H. 6 cm (2 3/8 in.); W. 4.6 cm (1 13/16 in.); D. 5.5 cm (2 3/16 in.)
Gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904
Not on view
The cat was sacred to the goddess Bastet, and was offered in sanctuaries and deposited in animal necropoleis throughout Egypt. On this cat, both ears are pierced and would have had earrings, probably of precious metal. The head is hollow and the walls of the casting are thin and even, which attests to the artist’s mastery of the lost wax casting technique, which was used to make this piece and others like it.
The function of these large cat heads is ambiguous. They have been found in offering contexts, and it is commonly assumed that they formed part of a composite statuette; the full statuette, when intact, probably would have had a hollow wooden body and held a cat mummy inside, much as similar large hollow copper alloy statuettes did. However, these figures are almost never found with the composite bodies, even at sites where wood is relatively well preserved. It is possible that in some cases these cat heads were dedicated on their own, or were purposefully disassembled from their bodies, which were then discarded or used in another way
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.