Ancient Egyptians idolized many animals inhabiting their world and connected them with a pantheon of the gods, but any of them did not use such respect as a cat. They were honored as the terrestrial embodiment of the goddess Bast, the respect for them reached that the died small animals were buried as people – mummifying also a system for them special tombs.
Role of cats in life of ancient Egyptians
Ancient Egypt was an agrarian civilization therefore the cat destroying mice and rats attempting upon their stocks and also posing a threat of life of snakes was of such value that over time it was brought to the level of a sacred animal. Only the Pharaoh could consider cats by the property therefore all of them were under his protection and murder of any of them was punished by the death penalty. At the same time for the Egyptian legislation there was no difference in what became a cause of death of a cat – accident or deliberate actions.
According to Herodotus, during the fire the Egyptians had to stand around the burning building to prevent a cat to jump in fire. Was considered that the animal could run into the house to check whether there are no kittens there.
Each Egyptian tried to entice a fluffy small animal into the house, was considered that the cat living in the house stores in it the world and rest. Those who could not secure with protection of the idolized animal ordered his figurines from a tree, bronze or gold. The poorest hung up in the house papyruses with the image of graceful small animals.
When the cat died, all members of household as a sign of deep mourning had to shave off eyebrows. The small animal was mummified in due form, having wrapped a fine linen in valuable fabric and having processed a mummy valuable oils. Cats were buried, having put in special vessels or sarcophagi decorated with gold and gemstones, there put all that had to brighten up their afterlife – small jugs with milk, dried fish, mice and rats.
Cats and Egyptian gods
The goddess Bast or Bastet is a daughter of god of the sun Ra, the wife of god Ptakh and mother of lvinogolovy god Maakhes was represented in the form of the woman from a-headed cat. She was a patroness of women, children and all pets. Also Bast was considered as the goddess protecting from infectious diseases and evil spirits. Her Egyptians esteemed and as the goddess of fertility. Often Bast represented with a rattle, it was connected with the fact that the cats who were giving birth often and in large quantities and also gently caring for posterity – were motherhood symbols.
The women asking from the goddess Bast of children carried amulets with the image of kittens. The quantity of kittens on ornament was equal to that how many children they want to have.
Also Ancient Egyptian cats were considered as "god R's eyes". This high rank probably was given them in connection with feature of cat's pupils – by the light of they are narrowed, becoming similar for a month, and in the dark extend, becoming round as the sun. Such Egyptians imagined two eyes of R – one solar, another lunar.