The Gayer-Anderson Cat on display in the British Museum
|Material||Bronze with gold ornaments|
|Size||42 cm High|
|Created||Late Period, 600 BC|
|Present location||British Museum, London|
Style and detail
The sculpture is known as the Gayer-Anderson cat after Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson who, together with Mary Stout Shaw, donated it to the British Museum. The statue is a representation of the cat-goddess Bastet. The cat wears jewellery and a protective wedjat amulet. The earrings and nose ring on the statue may not have always belonged to the cat. A winged scarab appears on the chest and head, it is 42 cm high and 13 cm wide. A copy of the statue is kept in the Gayer-Anderson Museum, located in Cairo.
The statue is not as well preserved as it appears. X-rays taken of the sculpture reveal that there are cracks that extend almost completely around the centre of the cat's body and only an internal system of strengthening prevents the cat's head from falling off. The repairs to the cat were carried out by Major Gayer-Anderson who was a keen restorer of antiquities in the 1930s. When he bought it, the surface of the cat was "covered with a heavy coating of crystalline verdigris and crisp flakes of red patina" which he carefully removed by chipping away at it.
The cat was manufactured by the lost wax method where a wax model is covered with clay, or clay and water, until there is sufficient thickness. The clay can then be fired in a kiln and the wax flows out. The now hollow mould can be refilled with bronze. In this case the metal was 85% copper, 13% tin, 2% arsenic with a 0.2% trace of lead. The remains of the pins that held the wax core can still be seen using x-rays. The original metalworkers would have been able to create a range of colours on a bronze casting and the stripes on the tail are due to metal of a differing composition. It is also considered likely that the eyes contained stone or glass decorations.
- Description of the Gayer-Anderson Cat, British Museum
- Oakes, Lorna, and Lucia Gahlin. Ancient Egypt: An Illustrated Reference to the Myths, Religions, Pyramids and Temples of the Land of the Pharaohs. (p. 229) Barnes & Noble, September 2003. ISBN 978-0-7607-4943-2.
- Gayer-Anderson Cat, Ancient Egypt.co.uk, retrieved 6 December 2014
- Clutton-Brock, J. The British Museum book of Cat. London: The British Museum Press, 2000.
- Warner, Nicholas. Guide to the Gayer-Anderson Museum, Cairo. Cairo: Press of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2003.
- Foxcroft, Louise, "The Irish Pasha" - the astonishing private and public lives of a maverick Edwardian Egyptologist (http://unbound.co.uk/books/the-irish-pasha)