The Cat Bastet
replica: from the Staatlichen Museen, Berlin
gift of: Peter and Doris Bietenholz
date of the original: c. 600 BC
provenance of the original: Egypt, now in the Egyptian Museum, Berlin
description: Seated cat. Eyes painted white and gold. Inscribed ornate collar and breastpiece with the Eye of Horus. Plaster replica; bronze original. On base: height 23.5 cm, width 8.75 cm, depth 19 cm.
Bastet was the goddess of cats, fire, home and childbearing. She made her home in the city of Bubastis, which lay along the Nile’s eastern Delta. Bastet frequently adopted a feline form; originally depicted with the head of a lion, she later assumed the image of a woman with a cat’s head, or a fully cat-like form.
In the Late Egyptian Period (672-332 B.C.), the festivals of Bastet became very popular, honouring the goddess through dance, music, drink and sacrifice. Many people brought their cats, who had died, to this festival to have them embalmed and buried in sacred receptacles.
(See also: Faience Amulets.)