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Cat

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 11.2 cm (4 7/16 in.); W. 4.1 cm (1 5/8 in.); L. 6.7 cm (2 5/8 in.) H. (with tangs): 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904
Accession Number:
04.2.474
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. This figure has a broad collar on its chest, an item of both beauty and power. Incised marks on the tail imitate the ringed tail of a cat. The underside of the statuette is open, showing that it was hollow cast with the lost wax process, as the majority of these statuettes were; core material from the casting process is still visible inside.

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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