Faithful Felines: Cats In Egyptian Art with Annaliese Thomas

Through the history of Ancient Egyptians, there is a trail of paw prints that lead us to the conclusion of just how important this feline creature was to these ancient people. Cats in Ancient Egyptian art held places of sacred connection to different deities or were examples of well sought after characteristics; their intelligence was respected and they were also esteemed for their abundant fertility. In some cases, the felines were even considered to be demi-gods and this reflected in different works of art and how the animals were portrayed in the Egyptian culture, or better yet they were depicted as some gods’ alternative forms in the human world through statues, mosaics, reliefs, paintings and more. They stood for different characteristic with the various Gods, like fierceness with the goddess Mafdet or even motherly affection and fertility as with the goddess Bastet.

Though they had mythical superstitions and a great level of importance on a religious scale, cats in Ancient Egypt were also useful for their vermin-controlling skills to a people who relied heavily on grain and other crops and amenities that could be destroyed by rats, mice, and other creatures. The Egyptians’ abilities to domesticate the cats proved useful in that they cultivated a nature in the generations of cats after that produced a more symbiotic relationship between man and feline. The Egyptians would later take the reverence shown for cats even a step further by mummifying the felines and placing them in the family burial sites as an honor and a reference to their status to the family. This respect in their death has been noted as a marker for how cats would have been treated in daily life as well, with admiration and high regard.

As we see cats displayed in various forms throughout Ancient Egyptian art, let us take a closer look at some of history displayed in the following works of art to see just how felines were displayed in such a decadent and religious culture.

-Medium: Made out of Bronze -Object Type: Sculpture -Patron Goddess of Lower Egypt -Occasionally took form of lion, but was usually represented as a snake -Daughter of Ra, called "Eye of Ra"
-Medium-Faience -Object type: Amulet -Cats in egypt were significant for their skills -Cats has religious ties to Egyptians -Cats were seen as symbols of fertility, hence kittens
-Medium: Bronze -Object type: Statue -Depicts, possibly, Horus of Buto -Figurine cast by wax process -Has silver coating or eyes and nipples
-Bronze figurine -holding sistum (musical instrument) -holding aegis with cat's head -Bastet was Egyptian Goddess of Cats -Used to be goddess Bast of War
-Medium: Mummified cat wrapped in linens and painted -Mummified as a sign of respect -Sometimes sacrificed for offerings -Cat mummy's were buried in the family tombs -First Domesticated in Egypt
Credits: All media
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