Head of a cat

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period

Not on view

The cat was sacred to the goddess Bastet, and was offered in sanctuaries and deposited in animal necropoleis throughout Egypt. This cat has a sensitively modeled face, with sharp, clean lines and attentive, large inset eyes.

The function of these large cat heads is ambiguous. They have been found in offering contexts, such as temples and animal catacombs, 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, bodies for these figures are rarely, if ever, found 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.

Head of a cat, Cupreous metal

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