Take a careful look around many of the independent shops or restaurants in Thailand and you may notice any number of lucky charms or mascots. One of these is the ‘maneki-neko’ cat mascot. Originally from Japan, these little good luck charms have been adopted throughout Thailand.
The cat adopts a raised paw posture which is beckoning rather than waving. A raised right paw is for general good luck and protection whilst a raised left paw is specifically for financial good luck and can often be seen on or close to the till. Some varieties are battery operated so that it appears the paw is constantly waving at you or beckoning you. The ‘Fortune Cat’ comes in a variety of colours which all have individual significance. For instance, white is for general luck, pink is for luck in love, red expels bad luck and gold is for wealth. The Japanese style lucky cat has found popularity with a modern generation of Thai people, but traditionalists in Thailand may still display the figure of the beckoning lady, known as ‘nang kwak‘, which serves the same purpose to bring good fortune. In the photo above you can just see the figure of the beckoning lady in red behind and to the right of the cat. I was obviously out of luck the day I took this picture because I missed getting her head in the frame so I guess you could call it a ‘paw’ photo. I need to go shopping for a lucky mascot that will improve my photography. And my puns.
Photo © Thaizer