Animorph, seated cats

Production date
Early 20th Century CE
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Object detail

An Egyptian amulet in the form of a cat. Fabric is olive green, with thin glaze, possibly made to suggest faience. Cat is seated, with prominent erect ears (one broken) atop an oversized head. The eyes and nose are roughly indicated and the mouth is flat. Tail wrapped around the body, and the legs are tucked in front. This set of 8 amuletic animorphs (cats) may represent jackals (the god Anubis) cats (the goddess Bastet). All have threading hole through neck. Likely strung on a necklace or bracelet. Tool marks present on the reverse of the amulet, probably made during manufacture. The whole figure rests on a thin plinth and is pierced through the neck. The back is faceted where the amulet has been pressed into the mould.
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Egyptian figure
Production date
Early 20th Century CE
Production place
H25mm x W18mm x D10mm
Media/Materials description
Glazed composition
History and use
In the First World War, many servicemen saw duty in foreign lands, collecting ancient items of material culture and sending these back to loved ones back home.

For the amateur soldier-archaeologist there were many opportunities to secure Egyptian antiquities. A short horse ride with a local guide to a rich gravesite, would secure a dozen scarabs after a few minutes of digging. Curios could be purchased from street sellers, authentic antiquities dug up from the desert sands, or faux objects ‘inspired’ by authentic pieces, such as large scarab paperweights.

Selling replicas as genuine antiquities has been big-business in Egypt for hundreds of years. At the start of the war the trade in Egyptian fake antiquities was large, and proved a decent money earner for street sellers in Egypt. The number of soldiers travelling through or training in Egypt would have been an absolute boon for the souvenir sellers, including those selling ‘genuine’ antiquities and faux objects ‘inspired’ by the genuine antiquities, such as this object.
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