In Ancient Egypt, cats were highly revered and adored creatures; possibly indigenous to the land, they were held in such high esteem that to kill them was punishable by death. As Egypt was largely an agrarian culture, cats were used to kill the mice that ate the crops; they are known to have become domesticated around 2000 BC. They were also associated with a number of gods and goddesses and could even be considered half-deities themselves. The cult of the goddess Bastet who represented motherhood and protection was directly linked to cats.
This bronze statue from circa 664-343 BC illustrates how important cats were in Egyptian society. The details of the slender sculpture, such as the necklace, reflect the prominent position they held in Egyptian culture to the point of being treated like humans. Cats in Ancient Egypt were often mummified and mourned; the
‘Khepri-scarab’ on the top of the cat’s head symbolises death and rebirth.
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 22, 2012.