Cats in Egyptian Art - Matt Chambley

This gallery showcases representations of cats in Ancient Egyptian art.  Ancient Egyptians widely worshipped the cat goddess, Bastet.  The Ancient Egyptians had strict penalties for harming cats.  There was even a holy site for worshipping cats in the Egyptian city Bubastis.  This level of devotion to cats and the feline form generated many extraordinary works of art.

This bronze statuette is from around 7-6 B.C. It has a smooth body, with the only dimples being around the mouth in the whisker area. The eyes are a focal highlight. The only color on the piece is it's bright yellow eyes. This statuette shows the cat standing tall and proud symbolizing the high esteem Ancient Egyptians held for cats. It seems like the holes in the ears and the divot in the top of the head were meant to hold some other piece.
This statuette of the goddess Bastet is from between 700-300 B.C. Bastet has the head of a cat, but the body of a human. She appears to be holding a sort of ceremonial headdress in her left hand. The vertical lines going up and down her robe are finely shaped and appear to give Bastet a female figure. Bastet also appears to be smiling.
This cat sarcophagus from 30 B.C.- 90 A.D. probably held the mortal remains of a house cat owned by someone in the Egyptian upper class. The diamond shapes on the sides are beautifully weaved. The face of the cat head is almost comical. This cat would have been revered by the family that owned it, yet it looks like a caricature of a cat.
This bronze statuette of a cat is from 664 -332 B.C. The cat seems to be looking upward, possibly towards is human caretakers or towards the heavens. It is interesting that the cat has a golden earring in its left ear. Although the bronze has corroded over time, the golden earring still stands out as a beautiful addition to the piece.
This holder for a mummified cat must have been a work of art that an Ancient Egyptian could have displayed in their home. This cat definitely is meat to be smiling. I cant help but see a certain human quality to the head. It is especially prominent in the nose and eyes. The eyes don't even have the vertical pupils that cats have. The cat is also wearing a necklace. It has an eye as the focal point and I assume that meant the cat was watching from the afterlife.
This cat figurine from 700 -300 B.C. stands out against the other figurines in this gallery because of the cats posture. He seems to stand proud and without reproach. He does not seem to be smiling and his body appears to be muscular. He wears a necklace which means this was probably a cat belonging to someone of nobility, or that the cat was himself nobility.
This finger ring made of Egyptian clay is from around 1550-1080 B.C. In the middle is the head of the Pharaoh with an elaborate headdress. On both sides he is flanked by cats standing in strong posture. The cats appear to be looking in the same direction as the Pharaoh rather than looking at the Pharaoh himself. Maybe this perspective meant the cats were protecting the Pharaoh.
These gold spacer bars with cats were worn as part of elaborate bracelets by Ancient Egyptians. This is another example of the Egyptians incorporating cats into every aspect of their lives. The cats appear to be looking back at the person viewing them. The simple lines of the ears and muzzle area combined with the elongated tails give the cats a welcoming feel.
This bronze figure of Bastet is from around 900-600 B.C. At Bastet's feet sit 4 regular size cats. They appear to be guarding her. Bastet holds an Egyptian rattle which signifies she is associated with music and fun. Bastet is always depicted in human form with a cat head. Her posture indicates strength.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.