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Maneki neko 招き猫 (Beckoning cat)

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    As2001,16.25.a-b

  • Title (object)

    • Maneki neko 招き猫 (Beckoning cat)
  • Description

    Figurine, made of ceramic, in the form of beckoning cat (J: maneki-neko); a) cat sits on haunches, left paw raised up to ear (this supposedly attracts customers); painted white with black spots, red ears, yellow eyes, black pupils, black nose, red mouth, grey whiskers, red collar and gold bell at neck, red toes; b) mat: rectangle of red polyester.

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  • Date

    • 2000
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 5 centimetres (figurine a)
    • Width: 3.4 centimetres (figurine a)
    • Depth: 3 centimetres (figurine a)
    • Weight: 19 grammes (figurine a)
    • Length: 5.6 centimetres (mat b)
    • Width: 3.9 centimetres (mat b)
    • Weight: 1 grammes (mat b)
  • Curator's comments

    This is a 'maneki neko' (招き猫) or 'beckoning cat.' So named for the motion the cat is performing with its left paw, maneki neko are often displayed in the front windows or entrance areas of stores in Japan to encourage customers to enter. Culturally, the motion for beckoning in Japan is an extended pronated hand with continual flexion and extension of the fingers where the Western equivalent would be an extended suppinated hand with flexion and extension of the fingers. Due to this orientation the motion is reminiscent of a cat batting the air or extending its paw. The use of a cat for this figure could also be related to calicos being lucky with their particular patina of colours associated with luck.

    Maneki neko figures appear in a variety of materials, forms, and colours. White with black spots is the most common colour scheme, but there are also many black and gold maneki neko as well as some decorated in calico, orange, or red. Likewise, while maneki neko are usually depicted seated, extending their left paw with their eyes open, they are sometimes shown dancing, extending their right paw or both paws simultaneously, or with one or both eyes closed. Typically although not universally, an extended left paw is meant to bring in customers and money while an extended right paw is meant to bring in friends. In some cases the figures may be modiffied so that the paw moves forward and back approximating the beckoning motion.

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  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2001

  • Acquisition notes

    Bought on 25-28 January 2001 for the BP Showcase Exhibition on 'Souvenirs in Contemporary Japan'. British Museum Department of Ethnography; field collection.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    As2001,16.25.a-b

Figurine (with blanket); made of ceramic; in the form of cat ("maneki neko" good luck cat in Japanese); cat sits on haunches, left paw raised up to ear (this supposedly attracts customers); painted white with black spots, red ears, yellow eyes, black pupils, black nose, red mouth, grey whiskers, red collar and gold bell at neck, red toes.

Figurine (with blanket); made of ceramic; in the form of cat ("maneki neko" good luck cat in Japanese); cat sits on haunches, left paw raised up to ear (this supposedly attracts customers); painted white with black spots, red ears, yellow eyes, black pupils, black nose, red mouth, grey whiskers, red collar and gold bell at neck, red toes.

Image description

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Object reference number: EAS85772

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