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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Masterpieces of Egyptian Art : Egyptian deified mummy of a crouching cat
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Egyptian deified mummy of a crouching cat - MS.1903
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 600 BC to 300 BC
Dimensions: 14.25" (36.2cm) high
Collection: Egyptian Art
Style: Late Kingdom

Location: Great Britain
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Cats in ancient Egypt were treated as sacred animals, as they were thought to be an incarnation of Bastet, goddess of music and joy and protector of women. Bastet was originally portrayed as a warlike lioness, but her image softened over time as she became more strongly associated with domestic cats. This cat from the Late Period (c.712-332 BC) is therefore depicted in a seated, gentle manner. Mummification was essential to ancient Egyptians because they believed if their bodies survived they could become immortal. The cats were often killed deliberately while still young, and the embalming process could be as elaborate as for humans. According to research at the University of York, the typical recipe would have been 80 per cent fat or oil, 10 per cent pistacia resin, 10 per cent conifer resin and a pinch of cinnamon. Presenting a mummified sacred animal to a god was a popular sign of devotion across all classes of society. One could pay to have an animal dedicated in their name and buried in a special cemetery by priests, such as the large cat cemetery in the ancient city of Bubastis – a practice attested to by Herodotus. - (MS.1903)


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