Monday, November 23, 2009

The Fortune Cat of Asia

Maneki Neko - The Fortune Cat

Chinese or Japanese?
Many people would associate the Fortune Cat as having Chinese origins but in actual fact it originated in Japan. The Chinese equivalent of the Fortune cat would be a 3 legged toad. Still, the Chinese flourished this cat better than the Japanese. The cat is often associated with Feng Shui and many other Asian’s esoteric customs. Maneki Neko is the Japanese name for the cat, and besides being known as the Fortune Cat, it is also known as the Beckoning Cat, Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat or the Money Cat. Often, this cat would be made from porcelain or ceramic, sometimes in wood or plastic too. The sculpture of this cat is usually presented with one of its paws beckoning. However westerners perceive it as waving instead of beckoning. This cat is being placed on the reception counter in many shops by business owners. It is an absolute must to have this cat placed in all Japanese restaurants, shops and companies. This cat can be commonly found and purchased especially during Chinese New Year. There are many retail shops, hawkers’ centers, coffee shops, Chinese companies and even individual households particularly in Singapore, where this cat can be found as well. The cat is believed to bring in good luck and wealth to its owner. However, this cat can bring in more than just that if you know how to choose the cat wisely.

Variations of the Cat
The beckoning of the Left, Right or both paws by the cat has different meanings. Next, the cat can be tinted in gold, yellow, white, black flower, pink, red, purple, green, blue or gray in colour. The accessory on the cat also represents different things.

The left paw refers to the beckoning of people (customers, honorable people etc.), while the right paw beckons fortune (money, wealth, and prosperity). The higher the paw is being raised, the better and more benefits it will bring in. Should both of the paws be raised up, it symbolizes protection to the owner and the property.

Meanings of the colors
White - Purity
Black - Warding away bad things and evil spirits
Red or Pink - Relationships, Love, Romances and Good health
Green - Academic achievements, Family, Community harmony and unity
Blue - Wisdom, career and success
Gold - Finances, wealth, fortune and money
Purple - Promoting of lifestyle and opportunities
Yellow/Orange - Stability and good marriages
Gray - Safety, enjoyable travels and attracting of helpful people to you

The common accessories found on the cat can be a collar, bib, bell or coin. The collar, bib and bell can be in a form of a neckerchief or scarf around its neck, which is a common stereotype for cats belonging to wealthy people during the Edo period in Japan. The coin known as a Koban represents a thousand dollars, which is very popular during the Edo period in Japan. Koban is believed to bring in good wealth and fortune when tied onto the cat. Originally, the purpose of adding decorative to the cat is to keep track of the cat's whereabouts. This is also related to the decoration of divinity statues. Such accessories are being worn as a form of gratitude for blessings received. For the owner, the accessories channel the positive vibe in the cat, bringing its owner many additional benefits such as your incentives, bonuses, love, harmony, achievements and so on.

Couplets and Positioning
Lastly, for some of the fortune cats, there are couplets on their paw. When you purchased the cat, the couplets will come in together in a box set. The couplets represents exactly what is it in specific that you would want the cat to bring to you, thus the cat will be focusing on those things.

These cats are usually positioned in places such as living rooms, entrances, windows, and corridors in which there is abundant of human traffic, or in such a way that the cat is the first thing people would see from afar. Do bear in mind never ever to place it near exits. Placing or positioning the cat near exit will only bring you the opposite effect and results of what it is supposed to bring to you. The exit is for things that you want it to go away and never to return back to you. Please be very sure on what cat you are buying for what purpose and to place it at the correct place!


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