googlead166c37c697d4d3.html Glenn Ashton Author Blog: The Gayer Anderson Cat – Our first sight

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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Gayer Anderson Cat – Our first sight

In London Loraine and I set out to see for ourselves the wonderful Gayer Anderson Cat, that our research had unearthed, and just like our quest to see for ourselves the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin, it seemed that the fates had conspired to prevent us doing so.
The British Museum - home of the Gayer Anderson Cat
We marched into the British Museum, straight up to the main desk, and asked if we could see the Cat. The woman behind the desk clicked through the computer and announced in a no-nonsense voice that the Gayer-Anderson Cat was not on display, and probably would not be on display for many months.
Disappointed, we joined our museum tour group, and trailed through behind our guide. When we had a moment at the Rosetta Stone, we asked the guide if she knew where the Cat might be. No, came the answer. She had been guiding tours through the museum for almost two decades, and had never heard of, never mind seen, the Gayer Anderson Cat. Perhaps we were mistaken ...
Twice disappointed, we followed her to a large statue of Rameses the Great. Loraine slipped behind the pharaoh, and soon popped back into sight, a broad grin on her face as she beckoned to me. I pushed through the crowds and she motioned behind her.
There it stood, in all its glory: the famous Cat. And milling around her, snapping photographs furiously, were dozens of tourists.
Gayer-Anderson
We spent half an hour admiring the Cat, reading about its x-rays, photographing it from all angles.
Once again, the gods had smiled on us.
Or should we say, the cat goddess, Bastet?
Don't forget to click here for links to websites on the Gayer Anderson Cat, and here for photographs of the Cat in our website.
Cat mummy from Ancient Egypt
Our research unearthed several interesting facts about cats in ancient Egypt. The Persians knew of the love the Egyptians had for cats, and so during a battle in 525 BC or so they placed cats before their army; and the Egyptians left the battlefield because they feared that they might harm the cats if they fought. The Egyptians never worshipped the cats as such; they did see echoes of their god Bast in them, though.
Cats had an important place in Egyptian life because they protected Egypt's granaries from rats. The goddess Bastet - she was the goddess of family and protector of cats - is often shown with a woman's body and a cat's head; she sometimes had the eye of Ra, a wadjet, in her left hand - the all-seeing eye.
Loraine & the Gayer Anderson Cat
In the later period of ancient Egyptian history people who wanted a favor from the cat goddess would go to the Bastet temple to buy one of the cats kept at the temple. The priest would break the cat's neck and have it embalmed before stuffing it into a jar and burying it in the cat cemetery. The theory was that the cat would then seek out the goddess Bastet in its afterlife and deliver the petitioner's message to the goddess.
Cat's were significant to families, and a family would mourn its death. They would shave off their eyebrows as a sign of their grief, and chant. Sometimes cats would be buried with their owners.

Gayer Anderson Cat with its guardian in British Museum

Gayer Anderson Cat from the side

Gayer Anderson Cat - photoshopped



Gayer Anderson Cat with base

Gayer Anderson Cat from side on its base

The Eye of Ra





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