Head of a Cat with Amber Eyes

Bronze head of a cat represents goddess Bastet or Bast with inlaid amber eyes and a golden scarab on its forehead, it was part of a cat-shaped sarcophagus for a cat mummy, as a sacrifice to the goddess Bastet.

The little feline lived in the houses, that’s why it was associated to the goddess Bastet, protector of the domestic hearth. The attention she pays to the care of her puppies made it the perfect symbol of motherhood.

Head of a Cat with Amber Eyes
Head of a Cat with Amber Eyes. Photo: Katherine Piper

Cats were devoted to the cult of Bastet, the goddess of fertility and protector of the home, and they usually had their ears pierced so that gold earrings could be worn. The goddess Bastet, who had a cat’s head, was one of the multiple deities in Egypt’s polytheist religion and had her own temple in Bubastis, in the Nile delta.

In ancient Egypt, cats were highly valued as pets but also acquired religious significance. Cats were also popular because they kept granaries and the home free of mice, rats and snakes. Cats were considered to be a manifestation of the goddess Bastet, but were not quite sacred themselves.

Some tomb paintings show cats sitting by their owners, sometimes with food nearby. In parts of Egypt, cats were bred in large numbers, so that worshipers of Bastet could show their devotion to the goddess by paying for a cat’s ceremonial burial.

Late Period, 26th Dynasty, ca. 600 BC. Now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.