Animorph, seated cat

Production date
Early 20th Century CE
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Object detail

Egyptian amuletic figure of a cat. Fabric of orange-brown glaze, possibly with some poorly applied and preserved glaze, to suggest faience. Cat is seated, with erect ears, and tail wrapped around the body.The eyes and nose appear to be moulded. The head and body are in better proportion than other examples and the legs very thin and angular. The whole figure rests on a rounded plinth and is pierced through the neck. The back is slightly faceted where the amulet has been pressed into the mould. 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, probably made during manufacture.
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Egyptian figure
Production date
Early 20th Century CE
Production place
H20mm x W15mm x D7mm
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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