Ancient Egypt, Third Intermediate Period or later, ca. 1000 to 332 BCE. A cast bronze scepter head capped by a solemn, svelte cat with huge ears. Draped around the cat's chest is a large necklace/pectoral. This cat probably represents the goddess Bastet, who represented fertility and motherhood. Thousands of mummified cats and kittens were given as offerings to Bastet at temples in her honor. Beyond the goddess, cats, known in ancient Egypt as "mau," were honored and protected in Egyptian society. Famously, Herodotus wrote that in Egypt, men would protect cats from fire, and that when a cat died, a household would go into mourning as if a human member of the family had died, shaving their eyebrows to signify their loss. It was immediately before this Late Dynastic Period that worship of Bastet became immensely popular, and her chief center of worship, Bubastis, became a great city. This scepter may have been used in ceremonies pertaining to the goddess. Size: 2.125" L x 2.25" W x 3.75" H (5.4 cm x 5.7 cm x 9.5 cm)
Provenance: private Northern Colorado, USA collection acquired through descent
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