27 February 2015

You are the Great Cat

The most established record of a feline's relationship with people originates from Cyprus where, around 9,500 years back, it was found that a wildcat was buried with a human. It was the Ancient Egyptian culture however, that became prominent for its devotion to the cat. Cats became a respected creature and one essential to Egyptian culture and religion. Felines were so revered they received the same embalming after death as humans. An extensive Egyptian tomb with embalmed felines was discovered by a farmer in 1888. This revelation discovered outside the town of Beni Hasan had eighty thousand feline mummies, dated after 1000 BC.

The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue, in addition killing a cat was punishable by death. It is recorded that when a feline passed on, the family would go into grieving as though for a human relative, and would frequently shave their eyebrows to illustrate their misfortune.   
Nevertheless, the Egyptians' love for cats would eventually be the source of their demise. In the Battle of Pelusium (525 BC) Cambyses II of Persia conquered Egypt, defeating the forces of Pharaoh Psametik III. Cambyses had his soldiers round up cats and drive them before the Egyptian forces. The Persian soldiers then held cats in their arms, and decorated their shields with images of cats as they marched behind the wall of felines. Reluctant to defend themselves for fear of harming the cats, the Egyptians surrendered the city and let Egypt fall to the Persians.

An inscription in the Valley of the Kings states, "You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat."

You can find a wide variety of wonderful feline antiques throughout Grays. Here is a selection of our favourite pieces:

Broach, Egyptian style cat 1930s from Linda Bee
Vintage three head cat ring from Gillian Horsup vintage jewelery

Mother holding two kittens, Bronze, 1895-1910. From Mariad Antiques

1980's sterling silver cat earnings from Tings jewelery box

Porcelain cat from Gillian Horsup vintage jewelery
Cat taking photo with camera and Cat playing squash, Bronze, 1895-1910. From Mariad Antiques

1930s straw filled toy cat, from Linda Bee

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