This beautiful vintage Japanese Kutani lucky cat sculpture was made in the mid-1960s. The term kutani means “nine valleys.” The first mention of kutani was in 1655 during the Meireki era. Kutani itself is a style of Japanese porcelain, and according to tradition, stones suitable for making porcelain were found in the Kutani mines of the Daishoji clan.
The Japanese lucky cat, or maneki-neko (literally “beckoning cat”), is a common Japanese figurine (i.e., lucky charm or talisman) that is often believed to bestow good luck to the owner. In modern times, the lucky cat (traditionally depicted as a calico Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw is usually displayed in—often at the entrance of—shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
Maneki-neko comes in different colors, styles and degrees of ornateness. Common colors are white, black, gold and sometimes red. In addition to ceramic figurines, lucky cats can be found as keychains, piggy banks, air fresheners, house-plant pots, and miscellaneous ornaments, as well as large statues. The image is also sometimes called the "Chinese lucky cat" due to its popularity among Chinese merchants.
This Japanese kutani lucky cat is in excellent vintage condition. Its cream-colored body is ornately hand-painted with a floral motif. The cat also sports a red scarf in front and a blue neck piece in back. Though it has crazing throughout its entire body, this is part of the style of the piece and not a flaw, as the sculpture is very solid, free of chips and breaks. The bottom of the lucky cat is signed.
This vintage Japanese lucky cat would make for a delightful conversation piece in one’s living, study or office. Or, if you own a business, place this charm of good luck at the entrance of the shop. For those who love cat sculptures in general or specifically lucky cats, this one would make for a fun gift or an ideal find for a collection.