Have you ever visited a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, Asian supermarket, or any Chinatown shop for that matter, you’ve probably noticed a little cat figurine perched quietly by the cash register.
Fortune cat has always been commonly known and used as the Feng Shui auspicious ornament. In the world of geomancy, there are meanings behind the colour of the cat and also the left/right raised paws and here in this articles, we will decipher the secrets behind it.
1. The Aliases
Fortune Cat is known as Maneki Neko in Japanese, which means “beckoning cat.” The cat has its paw raised as if it’s waving in good fortune for its owners. Other common monikers include Lucky Cat, Money Cat, and Welcoming Cat.
2. The Significance of the Raised Paw
There’s actually a meaning behind which paw the cat is holding up. If it’s the left paw, this is supposed to attract customers. If the right paw is raised, this invites good fortune and money.
They both sound pretty good to me, which is why sometimes you can find a Fortune Cat with both of its paws in the air. Two paws up can also represent protection.
3. The Symbolism Behind the Colors
While you’ll most commonly see a white Maneki Neko with orange and black spots, there are quite a few color variations and they each have a special meaning.
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
White: Happiness, purity, and positive things to come
Gold: Wealth and prosperity
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Red: Success in love and relationships
Green: Good health
4. The Meaning Behind What the Cat Is Wearing and Holding
Maneki Neko is a finely dressed cat usually adorned with a bib, collar, and bell. In the Edo period, it was common for wealthy people to dress their pet cats this way; a bell was tied to the collar so that owners could keep track of their cats’ whereabouts.
Fortune Cat figurines often holding other things in their paws. These include:
A koban worth one ryo: This is a Japanese coin from the Edo period; a ryo was considered to be quite the fortune back then.
The magic money mallet: If you see a small hammer, this represents wealth. When shaken, the mallet is supposed to attract wealth.
A fish, most likely a carp: The fish is symbolic of abundance and good fortune.
A marble or gem: This is another money magnet. Some people believe it’s a crystal ball and represents wisdom.