Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Maneki Neko

2/18/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Van Gogh watercolors,
Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
If you’ve ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant, you’ve probably seen her: Maneki Neko (“beckoning cat”). A symbol of good luck, the kitty with the raised paw is often seen near the entrance of restaurants and other businesses as a welcoming gesture. It’s been speculated that Hello Kitty, that mouthless maven of merchandising, is based on the Maneki Neko image. I don’t know about that, but I learned that Maneki has been around since the Edo period. The Bellevue Arts Museum had an excellent exhibition last year of a private collection of more than 150 Manekis, including antiques as well as contemporary interpretations.

I can’t recall where my ceramic Maneki Neko came from (purchased from Seattle’s Uwajimaya, perhaps?), but she sits on our mantel welcoming guests. Until I sketched her, I hadn’t noticed that her toenails are painted gold.

(If these days and days of continuous rain and blustery winds don’t let up soon, you’re going to end up seeing everything else on my mantel and in the rest of my house.)


  1. You've taught me something I didn't know. I'll have to look for the welcoming cat when I go to a Japanese restaurant. Nice sketch of the welcoming cat. It is funny how when we are stuck indoors we will start sketching anything. lol Hope the weather improves for you.

  2. Good sketch. I had no idea they were so ancient.


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