Height: 42.000 cm
Width: 13.000 cm
Gift of Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson
Room 4: Egyptian sculpture
Bronze figure of a seated cat
From Saqqara, Egypt
Late Period, after 600 BC
The sacred representation of the goddess Bastet
The domesticated cat is probably associated more with ancient Egypt than any other culture in the world. This cat is a particularly fine example of the many statues of cats from ancient Egypt. It has gold rings, a silvered collar round its neck and a silver protective wedjat eye amulet.
The cat is mostly identified with the goddess Bastet, whose cult centre was at Bubastis in the Nile Delta. Bubastis became particularly important when its rulers became the kings of Egypt, forming the Twenty-second Dynasty, sometimes known as the 'Libyan Dynasty'. The rise of the importance of Bastet and the cat can probably be dated to this period.
As with other creatures sacred to particular deities, it became very popular in the Late Period (661-332 BC) to bury mummies of cats in special cemeteries as a sign of devotion to the goddess. A number of cat cemeteries are known from Egypt. See, for example, a cat mummy dating to the first century AD from Abydos.
This sculpture is now known as the Gayer-Anderson cat, after its donor to The British Museum.
J. Malek, The cat in ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)
J. Clutton-Brock, The British Museum book of cat (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)