Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Cat

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 6.1 cm (2 3/8 in.); W. 2.1 cm (13/16 in.); L. 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in.) H. (with tang): 6.5 cm (2 9/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904
Accession Number:
04.2.477
Not on view
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. As a cat, she is poised and alert, on guard against external forces.

Like cat-headed Bastet statuettes, these seated cats often have special adornments. This figure has pierced ears for earrings, probably precious metal, and wears a wedjet amulet on its chest, a protective symbol associated with royal power. The wedjet eye, or Eye of Horus, was personified by the goddess Wadjet, who was closely linked with Bastet as both goddesses were feline protectors of Lower Egypt. 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.
Collection of Judge Elbert E. Farman, formed when he was U.S. consul general in Egypt 1876–84. Donated to the museum by Darius Ogden Mills, New York, in 1904.

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