Animorph, seated cat

Production date
Early 20th Century CE
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Object detail

Egyptian amuletic figure of a cat. Fabric is greenish brown with areas of brown discolouration and possible glaze. Cat is seated, with erect ears, and tail wrapped around the body. The rounded ears sit prominently on the top of the head. The eyes and nose appear to be moulded. The head appears too large for the body and the limbs are poorly indicated. 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.
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Egyptian figure
Production date
Early 20th Century CE
Production place
H20mm x W20mm x D9mm
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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