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 thick, sturdy neck and eyes deep cut for the addition of inlay, which would have given it a life-like and arresting appearance. The left ear has an indentation on the lower part of the lobe, possibly a mark where the artist, if desired, could have later drilled a hole for an earring, a common feature for these cat heads and cat statuettes.

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.

Head of a cat, Cupreous metal

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