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Gallery 09
Maneki Nekos:  Bob-Tails of Mystery & Imagination: Odd or Unusual.
[Note:  Please click on the small pictures below to see larger images.]  [mix07a]

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A traditional (age unknown) folk-ware Japanese Lucky Cat in a non-beckoning style.  The large red fish is a symbol of abundance.  This kitty is 2.25" (6 cm) tall, a bank without a stopper hole, made of painted ceramic, & bearing a red oval "MADE IN JAPAN" sticker & other marks on the bottom.

A strange set of Lucky Cats -- A small one of porcelain standing inside a larger one of papier-mâché.  What does this mean?  Height of the large one is 2.5" (6.5 cm).  From Japan, 2005.

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"Tiny Bubbles" -- A beautifully redecorated ceramic Tokoname-style Maneki-Neko, from Viktoria of Lily Neko Studio in Portland, Oregon.  Purchased from the artist in 2001, size 8.5" (21.5 cm) tall.  ID: painted on the bottom is "Lily Neko 2000".  A one-of-a-kind item.

Don't quite know what to make of this guy.  He's glow in the dark plastic, wears a red suit, & goes squeeka-squeeka when he's squeezed.  One of my more unusual kitties I think.  Size: 4.5" (12 cm), no identifying marks.

This guy has a metal spring for his beckoning arm & his paw seems to always be in motion.  Note the unusual coin showing a dollar sign printed on a money bag.  He's a bank, glazed ceramic, & 4.75" (12 cm) tall.  His black rubber stopper says "Made in Taiwan".  From a Hong Kong seller.

This is what you call a Neko-With-Attitude!  Complete with blue-green Mohawk hairdo, pierced ear, chains, Anarchy symbol, & raised "CAT POWER!" fist.  A unique work of art by Joanna that I just could not resist.  2.5" (6.5 cm) tall, including Mohawk; painted plastic w/ a metal chain & troll hair.  Purchased from the artist, 2004.  A 1-of-a-kind item.

A small pearly white Maneki on a keychain.  But there's more:  He has a Stanhope lens installed in his belly where you can see the Seven Deities in their treasure boat.  1" (2.5 cm), plastic & metal, pink tag & a red oval "MADE IN JAPAN" sticker, purchased new in a Japanese specialty shop in Washington, DC.

A special Thai-style black lacquerware Beckoner!  Notice the moon & stars on the upraised arm. Custom made for me, w/ "Donald Moon 2003" & "Linda Tong 1 of 1" painted around the bottom edge.  8.75" (22 cm) tall.  Designed, carved, & painted by Ms. Linda Tong.  Ordered at the Pink Palace Crafts Fair, Memphis, 2002, & received there one year later.  Best cat in show.

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to cover this ceramic Tokoname with tiny seashells.  It gives him an odd, furry look!  Everything has been covered with shells, except for his collar, bell, coin, and eyes - which are of the plastic "googly" toy kind with moving pupils.  He's approx 6.5" (16.5 cm) tall, his bottom is covered by a piece of red felt, & he came to me from Hawaii.

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Most extraordinary!  A 3-piece Russian nesting doll set featuring Manekinekos wearing Hawaiian shirts.  From an Hawaiian seller, 2002.  Carved from wood, their sizes are: 4.5" (11.5 cm), 3.5" (9 cm) & 2.5" (6.5 cm).  On the bottom of the largest doll: a painted "B.O."; a white paper "03-19-90" sticker; some Russian characters; & another white sticker: "Workshop of gifts.  LLC  Made in Russia".

Hugging Maneki Neko salt & pepper shakers?  Yep!  These Lucky Cats look similar to each other; but they are not identical.  Besides the differences in their arms & their postures, one has larger holes in the top of his head (for pepper?).  They're hand-painted with red, black, & brown, have real cork stoppers, & are stamped "JAPAN" on their bottoms.  Ceramic, 2 1/4" (5.7 cm) tall, age unknown.


My friends Roz & Steve had this glass beckoning kitty made especially for me during their trip to Venice.  A wonderful surprise!  He's 2" (5 cm) tall & made of white, yellow, orange, red, & black glasses.  That's Steve, Roz, and the glassmaker in the photo above.


I know there's a great story to go with this wonderful wood netsuke. Wish I knew what it was! This is a nicely detailed, 2" (5 cm), Japanese Beckoning Cat with a man (spirit?) inside. The usual 2 holes for the cord are at the bottom; & it's signed by the maker.  Black onyx eyes.  From an eBay seller in San Francisco, CA, 2002.


A beautifully-decorated white-with-black-spots Beckoner.  There are quite a few of this style around (in some really great colors), but this is the first I've seen decorated in this fashion.  Ceramic, 3.5" (8.5cm) tall, a bank.  Purchased from "range-rider" of Okinawa, Japan.

A symbol of a shrine is its gate or "tori".  It represents the division between the everyday world & the divine world.  The pictured gate is the most famous in Japan - the gate to Itsukushima Shrine - a UNESCO World Heritage site.


On the front of this Welcomer's base is "HAWAII".  He appears to be molded of olivine (a green volcanic rock) particles.  4.5" tall (11 cm), with LOTS of ID!  Carved underneath is "A Hip Original Made In Hawaii".  On the back: a gold sticker: "Olivine / Made In Hawaii / Hip Originals"; a faded price sticker; & - glued fast - a folded cardboard note w/ "God Of Wealth / Maneki Neko" on the front & printed inside:
"MANEKI NEKO - GOD OF WEALTH.  This God is the cool cat who makes you a fat cat - he bestows the gift of wealth!  Legend says that the left paw raised to the left ear says 'Come, bring money!'  Point him at your boss, at the door of your business.  Put Maneki Neko to work for you - it's nice to be rich!  --Handcrafted in Hawaii by HIP Originals."


This is an unusual Maneki Neko from eBay; and I'm not sure what to make of him.  At first he appears to be one of the porcelain Meiji style cats, but he's not.  Not even close.  He's about 3.5" (9 cm) tall, hand-decorated in a folksy manner with gold & red-orange details, and, from the front, looks a bit like the Meiji's.
But from the side he has a much more catlike profile, his spots aren't colored - they're black & gray, his ears are colored gold - instead of red, and he's made of clay with a glossy white glaze & a very small vent-hole in the back.  His most outstanding feature is his finely formed face; his least outstanding feature is his solid,  rough, gray-clay, bottom, which is, of course, unmarked.  Could he be a European copy of an Asian Lucky Cat?


A small golden Neko who tells fortunes!  When he is shaken upside-down, a metal strip with Kanji on it falls out of a slot in the back of his head. These tiny fortunes (blessings) are known as "omikuji" (= sacred lottery).  He's made of metal, is attached to a keychain with a cryptic tag, stands 1.25" (3 cm), & is probably identified by that tag.  His coin says "kai-un" (meaning "Good Luck").
Omikuji translations, thanks to Wikipedia:  Great blessing (dai-kichi, 大吉) Middle blessing (chū-kichi, 中吉) Small blessing (shō-kichi, 小吉) Blessing (kichi, 吉) Half-blessing (han-kichi, 半吉) Near-blessing (sue-kichi, 末吉) Near-small-blessing (sue-shō-kichi, 末小吉) Curse (kyō, 凶) Small curse (shō-kyō, 小凶) Half-curse (han-kyō, 半凶) Near-curse (sue-kyō, 末凶) Great curse (dai-kyō, 大凶).


The most outrageous Lucky Cat that I've ever seen!  I found it in an Asian gift shop in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, 2006.  Approx 10" (24.5 cm) tall, made entirely of plastic (except for the red bow & some metal screws); & bearing no mark of origin, although that may be on the handy cardboard carrying box that it came in.

Lots to look at here:  The pot is decorated with a dragon & phoenix motif, with bats & square-holed coins around the rim.  Atop the pot are variously sized & decorated gold ingots, a green emerald, a bucket of gold, 2 oranges (?) with fuku stickers, & a pineapple with green leaves (hiding a hook for hanging the piece).  Behind, on the largest ingot of all, sits a 3" / 7.5mm red-eared, green-bibbed, gold Maneki Neko with an upraised hologram tablet in one paw & a flower (?) in the other.  I can't help wondering what this is all about ...


A small tricolor Lucky Cat living in a sake bottle.  Unglazed ceramic cat is 1 1/8" (3 cm) tall.  Glazed ceramic sake bottle with rope hanger is 2 7/8" (7.2 cm) tall.  There are two Kanji chars on the front of the bottle & a bit of writing on the bottom, which appears to have been done by hand.  From Steve on eBay.


More Lucky Cats!  Not only from Japan, but from every other cat-loving country in the world.  You can find Lucky Cats all over.  Some a'beckoning and some a'not. 


An American Money Cat -- He's holding a Lincoln head penny (1957D).  There's no marks, however, so I can't say for sure where he comes from.  Anyway, he's 7" (18 cm) tall, a bank w/o a hole to get the money out, made of glazed ceramic.

A pair of Chinese Money Cats -- Carrying gold coins with square holes inside.  Also there are gold ingots scattered around their feet.  Made of molded painted & glittered super-plastic, length 3" (7.5 cm), bought new.

It says right on it: "Lucky Irish Black Cat".  A friendly-looking red-stone (black-stone in this case) figurine being of height 3 1/4" (8.5 mm), bearing the image of a shamrock.  A souvenir present from Roz from the town of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland..

The felines below represent the Year of the Tiger.  (My birth-year.)  If you were born during any of the following periods, you too are a "Year of the Tiger" person:

8 Feb 1902 - 28 Jan 1903  /*/  26 Jan 1914 - 13 Feb 1915  /*/  13 Feb 1926 - 1 Feb 1927  /*/  31 Jan 1938 - 18 Feb 1939  /*/  17 Feb 1950 - 5 Feb 1951  /*/  5 Feb 1962 - 24 Jan 1963  /*/  23 Jan 1974 - 10 Feb 1975  /*/  9 Feb 1986 - 28 Jan 1987  /*/  28 Jan 1998 - 15 Feb 1999.

Note: Our last YEAR OF THE TIGER was in 2010.

This brass Lucky Tiger is made of brass and comes in a transparent plastic shell that allows you to wear him as a talisman.  He's 2 1/2" (6.5cm) long and is considered a very powerful charm.

A Lucky Money Tiger on a pile of gold coins & ingots.  Made of molded & painted super-plastic resin; approx 5" (12.5cm) tall & 7.5" (19cm) wide; with an oval gold-colored sticker underneath saying, "Made In China".  New from Chou's, Memphis.
doubletigers.jpg (36382 bytes) A double Maneki that goes up instead of sideways.  Tigers?  Cute!  4.25" (11 cm) tall, molded ceramic, w/ long tails.  ID: a square logo impression on the back, a round gold sticker with Japanese chars on the bottom, & a white "Made in Japan" sticker.  From Chou's.

This olde boy (Maneki Tora?) seems to have been made for a recent "Year of the Tiger".  (1986?  1998?)  He's a bank, painted ceramic, & 8" (20 cm) tall.  No ID except for his "Lucky Tiger" collar in English.  From an outdoor antiques market in Tokyo, 2006.

An outstanding yellow tiger cat from Japan.  His beckoning paw holds a crystal ball & his other paw a koban coin.  He has a real metal bell & a big red bag behind him - usable as a cache pot, perhaps for lottery tickets.  He's ceramic, about 3.75" (9cm) tall, & slotted to be used as a coin bank.  [Note that his coin is unusual as the currency is in yen, not ryo.  Still, 300 million yen means "Lots of Money!"]

A "2010 - The Year of the Tiger - Piggy Bank" made for the JA Group, aka The Japan Agricultural Cooperative Group.  Painted yellow plastic, height 4 1/2" (11cm), with a plastic plug in the bottom.  The green logo is interesting, described thusly: The large triangle represents nature & the earth; the small triangle represents a person.  The circle symbolizes the wealth of farming & the future of the harvest, as well as harmony based on a spirit of cooperation.  From Japan.

This guy is a specially painted "Year of the Tiger" figurine by my talented friend Micha.  Originally a gourd, he's now a cute carnivore holding the "moon" in his right paw, beckoning with his left, wearing a braided red & white tie with little bell ends, and sitting on his bean-bag pillow decorated with little gourds.  You can find out more about Micha by visiting her website, The Maneki Neko Room -- www.clockworkvoices.com/neko/.



A Large Lucky Tiger carrying an imitation gold coin (with a square hole) in his mouth.  Painted ceramic with genuine plastic whiskers; approx 6" (15 cm) tall & 17.5" (44 cm) long; with a white paper price sticker & an embedded rectangle containing some hard-to-make-out-characters underneath.  My carried-on-the-airplane souvenir from Chinatown in Victoria, B.C., Canada, 2005.


A handcrafted Lucky Tiger ("hariko no tora") bobble-head toy made of brightly painted papier-mache.  Height 4.7" (12 cm); length 6.4" (16.5 cm).  Made in the traditional manner by the Ichiroemon family and purchased in their shop, Ichironsan, located along Japan's Tokaido Highway.  From Japanese eBayer Kurt, 2008.

English Lucky Black Cats --

Solid black cats were once considered very lucky in England.  However, they didn't beckon as their Asian cousins did.  Often associated with other good-luck charms, such as horseshoes, thimbles, gold rings, 4-leafed clovers, a "pully" bone, an elephant, a coin, white heather, & even an old shoe, all they really had to do was be in the right place at the right time and be black.

  1          2          3

[1]  "The Lucky Black Cat", by Louis Wain.  Original painting transferred to 3" (7.5 cm) tall plastic with magnetic back refrigerator magnet.  (You can't talk about English cats without including Louis Wain.  He is partially responsible for our bringing the cats in off the streets & into our homes.)

[2]  A Lucky Cat from Whitby, England.  (Thanks again, Roz!)  A 4 3/16" x 5 7/8" (10.5x15 cm) postcard, #W007143L, "Good Luck From Whitby: The Abbey / The River Esk / The Harbour & Piers / The Harbour", published by E.T.W. Dennis & Sons Ltd. 

[3]  A little Black Cat figurine with goo-goo-googly eyes and "WHITBY" painted in gold.  Molded plastic, 2.25" (5.5 cm) tall, with "(c) EPL" engraved underneath.

4          5

[4]  This is a souvenir Lucky Black Cat from Tenby, England.  He has great eyes -- two lime-green rhinestones.  On the top of his green base is molded "LUCKY CAT".  He's about 3.5" (9 cm) tall, painted plaster, & dated "1985" in ink on his bottom.  From my English friend Roz.

[5]  The old-fashioned looking plaque above features two black cats and says "Here's GOOD LUCK to YOU!"  "May Fortune favour you all your days, Health and Gladness be yours always!"  5 1/8" x 8 3/16" (13x20 cm), cardboard with string hanger, very British.

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