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Cat Coffin

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Some cat mummies were buried in elaborately carved cat-shaped wooden coffins covered with gold. Traces of gilding are clear on the head of this cat mummy coffin.
MEDIUM Wood, glass, gesso, pigment, animal remains (Felis sylvestris, Felis libyca, or Felis chaus), plant materials
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES 664–332 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26 to Dynasty 30
    PERIOD Late Period
    DIMENSIONS 24 1/4 × 7 1/2 × 16 in. (61.6 × 19.1 × 40.6 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.1946Ea-b
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Cat Coffin, 664–332 B.C.E. Wood, glass, gesso, pigment, animal remains (Felis sylvestris, Felis libyca, or Felis chaus), plant materials, 24 1/4 × 7 1/2 × 16 in. (61.6 × 19.1 × 40.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1946Ea-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1946E_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.1946E_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object is a wooden coffin for a cat shaped as a cat. It is made from several pieces of wood, joined with wooden dowels. The main joins appear to run lengthwise in the center of the coffin, splitting the coffin into two halves. A cat mummy was inserted inside, the coffin assembled and then the gesso and layer of dark material (paint?) was applied, affectively sealing the wood assembly seams. The coffin (a) was constructed to be inserted into a wooden base (b). The base is made from a single piece of wood and has hollow areas carved out to accept the mortise like joins at the undersides of the feet at both the front and rear of the cat. The tail of the cat is carved from three pieces of wood that have been doweled into the top of the base. In looking at the x-radiographs taken, the mummy inside appears to have the cat positioned so that the front legs are up and bent as opposed to long and crossed over the body as is seen on other cat mummies.On the coffin, there is a roughened depression at the top of this cat's head.
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