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Exploring Waving Cats in Chinese Restaurants

If you’ve ever dined at a Chinese restaurant, or even grabbed takeout from one, you might have noticed a little <a title="Statues &amp; Figurines" href="http://www.atgstores.com/statues-figurines_797.html" target="_blank">statue</a> of a waving cat sitting on the counter and wondered … well … why there’s a little statue of a waving cat sitting on the counter. In some ways, the answer is more peculiar than the cat. Here are a few things you might like to know about it, especially if you’re thinking about introducing this friendly little feline into your décor scheme: <strong>1. This cat is Japanese, even though it likes to hang out in Chinese restaurants.</strong> The cat’s name is Maneki Neko (or maneki-neko, in common noun form) and it is one ancient kitty. Historians believe it originated in the 17th century during Japan’s Edo Period, but came to prominence during the economic boom times of the Meiji Period at the beginning of the 19th century. <strong>2. This cat isn’t waving – it’s <em>beckoning</em>.</strong> It’s common for us as erstwhile Chinese restaurant patrons to assume that this cat is waving as if to say hello or goodbye, depending on whether we notice it on the way in or the way out. The truth, though, is that this cat is <em>inviting you in</em> and, if it had its way, you would never leave … <strong>3. This cat likes profit.</strong> The maneki-neko, in its most common symbolic form, is a talisman; a good-luck charm meant to invite fortune into shopkeepers’ doors. That’s why you often see the statue holding coins, or even surrounded by actual coins left by patrons who know what’s up with this lucky little kitteh – the idea being that wealth begets more wealth. <strong>4. This cat wears many hats.</strong> You may have also noticed that, from time to time, the cat (aka Fortune Cat, Lucky Cat, Money Cat) appears in different colors. The frequently seen gold cat symbolizes prosperity and wealth, while the equally popular white cat symbolizes happiness. But, there are also green cats (good health), red cats (lucky in love) and black cats (talismans against evil). <strong>5. This cat wants to be part of your décor.</strong> The overarching lesson here is that Lucky Cat (or any of its many, many cousins) can look good just about anywhere, as part of any cultural motif. It’s a business cat, it’s a good-luck cat, it’s a happy cat – it’s whatever you need it to be. He makes for a great greeter in the entryway, but you should feel free to put your Fortune Cat wherever you need good vibes, because that’s what it’s all about.
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