Art lovers who seek for good fortune can make a trip to the Bellevue Art Museum, United States, to watch the exhibit “Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats – From Talisman to Pop Icon”. The exhibition displays a great collection of maneki neko or lucky cats, which are Japan’s talisman, and will run until August 4.
“They are believed to have the ability to (positively) change circumstances,” said Stefano Catalani, Director of Art, Craft, and Design at BAM. “I am fascinated by the idea of how we bestow on an object, something made by the human hand, the tradition of a certain culture, and the power to change lives.”
Maneki neko refers to “beckoning cat,” and the animals always have an upraised paw. The tradition of sculpting beckoning cats comes from the 17th century, when the legend says that a Japanese nobleman was saved from death by a cat who coaxed him away from a falling tree.
The exhibit includes 155 pieces made in the 19th and 20th centuries and is one of the largest organized outside of Japan, according to the international press. The sculptures included in the exhibition are made mainly of porcelain and clay, but also wood and papier-mâché are included.
“What is striking about this exhibition is that the first impression is that they are all the same, but when you look closer, you see the differences. It is engaging because it stimulates your curiosity and sense of wonder,” said Catalani. “These (cultural) themes are universal. It might come from Japan, but it is something that is interesting to everybody.”