Cat figurine

Dublin Core


Cat figurine


Ancient Egypt, Middle Kingdom


Cat Figurine is a small, compressed figure resembling a wildcat, painted with black spots, and mounted on a flat rectangular base. Crafted in faience, a popular medium in ancient Egypt, Cat Figurine has a brilliant turquoise hue, which is polished to a light shine.

It is ultimately the figurine's design and natural imagery that should be regarded as most important in relation to its purpose: guarding over the deceased. The wildcat’s squat nature adds to the stability of the figurine, therefore aiding its long career as protector of the deceased's afterlife. Cat Figurine’s rectangular base also adds to its stability, and would allow for the statuette to rest nicely in its desired placement: an ancient Egyptian funerary temple. In a temple, the statuette’s frontality would allow it to gaze directly at rituals, and visitors that entered to pay their respects to the dead. Through its natural imagery, Cat Figurine shows how animals played a role in the religious beliefs and imaginations of the Egyptians. Wild animals were seen as chaotic beings, something the Egyptians strived to ward against in their goal to achieve order. By representing these animals in sculpture, Egyptians hoped to contain their wild characteristics. The use of a rectangular base can be seen as an additional method of containment.

In Janson’s History of Art, Cat Figurine could replace Female Figurine (fig 3.22) in the “Funerary Architecture” section of Egyptian Art. Similar to Cat Figurine, Female Figurine was made during the Middle Kingdom, and was placed in a funerary temple. Furthermore, the representation of a woman would aid the transition of the dead into their new life, much like how the representation of a wildcat would keep chaos from permeating the temple and affecting the deceased. Thus, they were both ideal protectors for the afterlife.



The Metropolitan Museum of Art


1981–1802 B.C. Middle Kingdom


Miah Tapper, '21


Public Domain




From Egypt; Possibly from Memphite Region, Heliopolis (Iunu; On)

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Blue faience with black spots, paint

Physical Dimensions

L. 6.2 cm (2 7/16 in.); W. 2.3 cm (7/8 in.); H. 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in.)


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“Cat figurine,” accessed July 18, 2019,