That little waving cat sculpture in Chinese restaurants is called a “Maneki Neko.”

The “beckoning cat” turns out to be Japanese, not Chinese, and is properly rendered as a ceramic sculpture, rather than shiny, gold plastic. It’s beckoning passersby to enter the establishment, although the gesture doesn’t really translate, since in the West, that’s how we wave hello and goodbye. They appear to date to the 1870s. 

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »