Happy #Caturday from the Brooklyn Museum! This is a monthly celebration of cats based on our exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.
most ancient Egyptian feline divinities are female, several male gods with
feline features were also venerated. The most popular of these are Bes and
Tutu, who often appear together as they are both closely connected with healing
and magic. Unlike most Egyptian deities, they were not portrayed in the form of
an animal or an animal-headed human. Rather, they appeared as human-feline
composites, bizarre by Egyptian standards. Bes is shown as an achondroplastic
dwarf with a frontal leonine face brandishing a sword; and Tutu as a sphinx with
the body of a lion and head of a king. Tutu’s power is emphasized by the seven
demons pictured above him - their heads of crocodile, bull, lion, baboon,
jackal, ibex and hare harness various powers of the animal world. The gods’
feline features signified protection of the most precious and dangerous aspects
of life. Reliefs
on stelae such as this one were intended to placate the gods, keeping them in a
favorable disposition. Alternately, likely placed in a temple, they served a
votive function, expressing the donor’s gratitude for protection against
illness and misfortune.
See Bes and Tutu and other ancient Egyptian cats on view now in #DivineFelines!