Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Cat

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay
Dimensions:
H. 7.2 cm (2 13/16 in.); W. 2.8 cm (1 1/8 in.); L. 4.3 cm (1 11/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of David Dows, 1945
Accession Number:
45.4.6
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
Bastet was a powerful goddess of Lower Egypt, one who was protective and could bring about great prosperity. In zoomorphic form, she was represented as a cat and cats were considered sacred to her. This cat sits on a menat-shaped base in a typical pose, upright with its tail wrapped along its right side. It is poised and alert, on guard against external forces.

This small figure is exceptional because of the level of detail and attention that went into its manufacture. It has many of the same features as other seated cats: it wears an amulet, its fur is indicated by short repeated markings, and it has a ringed tail. On this example, however, these features are picked out in gold, which gives it a striking appearance. This piece also gives us insight into the mentality of those who dedicated such objects; it shows that even small statuettes were considered important and worthy of elaboration and extra cost. Dedications did not always have to be large to be significant or impressive.

Cat statuettes were among some of the most common zoomorphic dedications of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods. Small statuettes like this one would have been dedicated as offerings to temples or deposited in catacombs alongside cat mummies, as at the extensive catacombs at Bubastis and Saqqara. Sometimes larger hollow examples held a cat mummy inside.
Mrs. Jane S. Dows Collection; donated to the museum by David Dows, her son, 1945

Related Objects

Statue of a goddess, probably Nehemetaui or Nebethetepet

Date: 550–300 B.C. Medium: cupreous metal Accession: 26.7.845 On view in:Gallery 134

Ritual Figure

Date: 380–246 B.C. Medium: Wood, formerly clad with lead sheet Accession: 2003.154 On view in:Gallery 128

Statuette of Amun

Date: ca. 945–712 B.C. Medium: Gold Accession: 26.7.1412 On view in:Gallery 125

Statuette of a Royal (?) Woman with the Cartouches of Necho II on her Arms

Date: 610–595 B.C. Medium: Silver Accession: 30.8.93 On view in:Gallery 127

Cat Statuette intended to contain a mummified cat

Date: 332–30 B.C. Medium: Leaded bronze Accession: 56.16.1 On view in:Gallery 134