Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cats in History

You never know where my mind will wander when left to ... well, wander. I was in a mood to create some cat earrings. And I decided to make 2 pair; one with a tortie look, the other a bit more glam. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I'm not totally sure what I want to create (just yet) I drag out all sorts of beads, findings, wire, string ... and play. Pairing things this way, and that way until something sticks. 

I'm not sure how I got to a place where I used hemp twine for these tortie earrings, but the black just sort of spoke to me, and once I finished I thought they almost had an Egyptian look to them. The mix of black, gold and warm brown I guess took me there. I decided to make a second pair of cats, but this time all white with a tiny labradorite round at the top. I'm not showing it here, but there is also a bit of a curl to the tail in back. These two cats remind me of another pair of cats I know named Isabella and Angel. You can see the real ones over on the Beaded Tail blog.

I decided to see what role cats played in Ancient Egypt, and found that they were first domesticated from wildcats 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. That is thousands of years before the rise of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Cats were praised for controlling the local vermin, you know like cobras snaking around outside. Egyptians loved their cats and took them to the afterlife; having them mummified along with them. There were deities of cats, one of the well known one called Bastet was known as the keeper of hearth and home, the protector of women's secrets, guardian against evil spirits and disease. Cats were sacred, and protected. The penalty for killing a cat in Ancient Egypt was death, and in households where a cat died people shaved their eyebrows as a sign of deep mourning which lasted until their eyebrows had grown back. What an interesting and strange thing to do?!

22 comments:

BIKBIK AND RORO said...

Ah, Bastet -- one of my favourites! I love your little white earrings -- so cute and elegant at the same time!

Halinka said...

Hello:

Fantastic post about the cats in history,beautiful photo of the Nubian cat:-)
I have also got the small figure of Nubian cat from Egypt,the replique of the authentic ancient figure,looking exactly,like in Your photo.
Your both pairs of cat earrings are really cat-chy:-)
I love the second-clear ones very much.
It is very difficult to buy the nice cat-beads here,in Sweden,but once I managed to buy and made the bracelet with it for my Daughter.
I love the topic and Your fantastic beadwork presented today.
Warm Greetings
-Halinka-

Swapna Dinesh said...

Nice post, Cynthia.. and lovely earrings..

BeadedTail said...

Love the kitty earrings! Isabella and Angel appreciate being mentioned too! They are certainly worshipped around here! :)

Patty Woodland said...

They do look like Isabella and Angel. I love that second pair of beads. So simple yet so present.

Caron Michelle said...

Love the use of the cording in the design - unique and lovely, certainly reflects this period in time. Also, have to say that the kitty cat beads are fabulous!

Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

I love these, Cynthia... lots of cool inspiration with our kitty beads :)

Miss Val's Creations said...

I love how the earrings turned out! Egyptians shaved their eyebrows to mourn their feline friends? That is a riot! So I guess you knew who to say your condolences to on the streets of ancient Egypt. Luckily cats are still talented in keeping vermin to a minimum.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love cats! I love Bastet! I love your earrings!!!

LisaS said...

Great earrings! I enjoyed your history, especially the eyebrow thing...

Gloria said...

Now you've got me imagining all those cobras taking over the streets, with cats in purrsuit. pun

Love to hear how you play with the pieces until inpiration strikes.

Memories for Life said...

Angel and Isabella are inspiring girls :) Great earrings!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

And cats have never forgotten how they were worshipped :)

Beautiful earrings!

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

I love visiting your blog not just for your gorgeous jewelry (love those Egyptian Earrings - LOVE), BUT I ALWAYS learn something new! As an animal-of-all-kinds lover, I completely understand the shaving of the eyebrows to mourn the death of a beloved animal! But....I still would not do it!

Duni said...

Those are awesome, Cynthia!!
Isabella and Angel would totally approve of these new creations :)

Christine Altmiller said...

Your the best and most fascinating history teacher I have ever met.
And those Tortoise Shell cats~all you and all cool!!!

Mama Zen said...

Shaved eyebrows? How weird!

Anna said...

Love how you wove together history and art making in this post! So interesting. The hemp and cat beads are a great combo of color and texture!

Claudia Aguilar said...

I am not a cat lover :(

Shaiha said...

What a great write-up! I love how you included the goddess Bast.

Janet Bocciardi said...

Interesting about the shaved eyebrows. It would be a good way to recognize someone that's grieving and give them some compassion!

Cute earrings, toO!

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