Did the ancient Egyptians dress living cats in jewelry?

Did the ancient Egyptians dress living cats in jewelry?

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Ancient Egyptians worshiped animals, and cats were one of the most popular objects of said worship. I know that they would dress up cat statues in jewelry, but did they dress their cats in jewelry while they were still alive? Or other animals for that matter? If so, what jewelry?

Cats in ancient Egypt were certainly revered, and there are suggestions that they may have been regarded as "demi-gods in their own right". In later periods, the cat came to be associated with the Goddess Baset, and it is because of this association that so many cats were mummified. Similar associations exist between other commonly mummified animals and a particular god or goddess from the ancient Egyptian pantheon, for example, the ibis (the god Thoth), baboon (also the god Thoth), and the bull (the god Apis).

The jewellery associated with the mummified animals is associated with the mummification rituals (and so has parallels with similar jewellery found with human mummies), but I'm not aware of any evidence that cats were adorned with jewellery while still alive.

In fact, ancient Egyptian language seems not to distinguish between wild cats and domesticated cats. All cats in ancient Egypt were known simply as "miu", if male, or "miut" if female (this is often translated in texts as "he or she who mews", but that is quite likely a modern gloss based on the phonetic similarity between the words "miu" and "mew").

The rare occasions where texts refer to cats by name are always in relation to royal pets. It is possible that cats kept as pets by royal princes would have been fitted with collars, or something similar, to reflect their status, but - as far as I know - there is no surviving evidence for this.

Did the ancient Egyptians dress living cats in jewelry? - History

T he ancient Egyptians were very particular about cleanliness and personal appearance. People who were poorly groomed were considered inferior. Both men and women used cosmetics and wore jewellery. One item of jewellery, the amulet, was believed to protect the owners and give them strength.

F lax grown by farmers was woven into fine linen for clothing. Working-class men wore loincloths or short kilts, as well as long shirt-like garments tied with a sash at the waist. Kilts were made from a rectangular piece of linen that was folded around the body and tied at the waist. Wealthy men wore knee-length shirts, loincloths or kilts and adorned themselves with jewellery – a string of beads, armlets and bracelets. Working-class women wore full-length wraparound gowns and close-fitting sheaths. Elite women enhanced their appearance with make-up, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

B oth men and women wore sandals made of papyrus. Sandals made of vegetable fibres or leather were a common type of footwear. Nevertheless, men and women, including the wealthy, were frequently portrayed barefoot.

Old Kingdom Middle Kingdom New Kingdom
Short kilt, pleated and belted shoulder-length hair necklace.
Female servant
Simple sheath dress with wide shoulder straps long hair, unplaited jewellery.
Mid-calf kilt with a large apron that was probably stiffened to maintain its triangular shape elaborate necklace.
Female servant
Simple sheath dress, long unplaited hair.
Elaborate pleated garment jewellery, wig and scented cone sandals with the extended curled toes typical of the period.
Elaborate gown jewellery plaited wig, hair ornaments and scented cone.
Drawings by John Ide

How Vikings Cats Were Different to Today's Cats

We know the ancient Egyptians loved cats, but what about the Vikings?

Recent genetic research has shown that these seafaring Nordic explorers brought domesticated cats on board their ships to kill rodents, helping the furry felines spread across the globe. But the Vikings also appear to have raised cats for another, even less savory reason: harvesting their pelts to wear as clothing.

Now, as reported in Science magazine, a team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen have mined the skeletons of cats recovered from Viking-era mass graves and other archaeological sites across Denmark to investigate how Iron Age, Viking, and medieval cats differed from modern house cats.

The new study, published in the Danish Journal of Archaeology, found that while most animals tend to shrink when they become domesticated𠅍ogs, for example, are on average about 25 percent smaller than their nearest wild relative, the grey wolf𠅎xactly the opposite is true for cats. In fact, cats have grown about 16 percent bigger, on average, since the Viking era.

Scientists have established that domesticated cats (Felis catus) are all descended from a single subspecies, the Near Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), which still roams wild today in the Middle Eastern desert. A large scale genetic study published in 2017 suggested that cats spread from Southwest Asia and Africa into Europe and beyond in two distinct waves. Viking-era cats descend from the second wave, which began as early as 1700 B.C., as sailors began bringing cats with them on their ancient voyages for rodent control, and accelerated after the fifth century A.D.

To find the valuable cache of cat skulls, femurs, tibias and other bones used in the new study, which range in age from the Bronze Age to the 1600s, the new study’s co-author Julie Bitz-Thorsen, then an undergraduate at the University of Copenhagen, had to dig through dozens of bags of mixed animal remains at the city’s Zoological Museum. Dog, horse and cow bones are much more common at many archaeological sites, making her task particularly difficult.

Skull bones from ancient and modern Danish house cats.

Cat remains were relatively sparse in Denmark before the Viking Age (around A.D. 650-1050), when they began to show up more frequently, particularly around urban settlements. Many of the remains Bitz-Thorsen found came from Viking-era pits, and bore marks of their grisly origins. “You can tell the cats were skinned—they have cut marks, or the neck has been broken,” she told Science.

As time went on, cats spread to rural settlements and estates as well as towns𠅊nd, as the new study shows, they began to grow in size. While it’s not clear yet why exactly why this growth occurred, it may have something to do with increased access to food, and better living conditions, especially after more and more people began treating cats as beloved house pets rather than strictly rodent hunters (or sources of fur). Beginning in the late Middle Ages, Bitz-Thorsen pointed out, cats became increasingly well-fed and well-treated, beginning their rise to the status of popular pet they hold today. 

Facts About Ancient Egyptian Living

To learn about the everyday lives of ancient Egyptians, archeologists use many different sources of information. In this article, you will find some of the information that researchers have learned by looking at the artifacts left behind in tombs, temples, caves, and under the ground.

The best details come from tomb paintings, reliefs, and the objects that are found in tombs that highlight how ancient Egyptians lived. Whenever an excavation takes place at an ancient site, the artifacts found shed light on the ancient past.

Every member of the ancient Egyptian family had specific roles. The father was responsible for making sure the family was economically stable, while the mother made sure the household was in order and tended to the needs of the children. Egyptian children did play with toys, but in actuality, they spent a great deal of time preparing for adulthood. For instance, the children of peasants would accompany their parents into the fields and the young males would serve as an apprentice to their fathers. The children of the wealthy would sometimes undergo formal education, and often follow the path of becoming a scribe or officer of the army.

The ancient Egyptian home typically possessed a simple design that did not accommodate many furnishings. The most common piece of furniture found in the household was a low stool, which found use in nearly every home , except for a pharaoh. The stools were comprised of wood with seats made out of woven rush or leather. There were either three or four legs that offered support.

The clothing of ancient Egyptians was usually plain in style. However, they dressed up their appearance with elaborate pieces of jewelry. Both men and women wore jewelry, which included bracelets, rings, earrings, anklets, and necklaces made out of beads. Minerals also found their way into the creation of many pieces of jewelry, such as garnet, jasper, onyx, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. It was not uncommon to find gold, copper, and shells as part of their jewelry.

To accommodate their superstitious ways, the ancient Egyptians often used their jewelry as a way to bring them good luck. These kinds of charms were called amulets.

Cosmetics were used to uphold hygiene and health practices, as well as to elevate their overall look. Archeologists know this because they have various cosmetics in the tombs of the dead. Tomb paintings also illustrated their use. In an attempt to beat the heat of the hot Egyptian sun and the unforgiving dry winds, oils and creams were important cosmetics. One of the most recognizable characteristics of Egyptian cosmetics is eye paint. Green and black were popular colors. The green pigment was fashioned from copper and was called malachite. The black paint was called kohl, and was made out of lead or soot. The kohl was kept in a small pot for easy use.

Dogs were man’s best friend even in ancient Egypt. Many families kept dogs as pets and gave them loving names. Dogs were also used for hunting and as guard dogs. The mummified remains of dogs have also been discovered by Egyptologists. These dogs were probably pets of the royal household.

Egyptians worshipped the jackal as the jackal God Anubis, the Egyptian God associated with afterlife and mummification. In ancient Egypt, jackals would wander in the deserts and approach towns and villages for opportunistic feeding. These creatures were also sighted in the cemeteries from where they came to be associated with the dead.

The Homes and Shelters in Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians used a fast and cheap material called adobe made of mud-bricks and dried in the sun and used to construct their temples, houses. Their houses were filled with beautiful decorations, enchanting amulets, and many ancient religious artifacts. The houses were divided into two floors one for the reception and the other for private housing, the houses were able to maintain a cool temperature on the inside, it also had a flat roof which they slept on during the summer heat. The houses were built around courtyards and all the cooking was performed outside. The people of high stature like the nobles occupied a larger house three times bigger than the rest of the farmers.

3 Toxic Goddess

The menacing cobra was also considered to be the expression of the goddess Wadjet. Wadjet represents Lower Egypt and wears a red crown. She is particularly concerned with the protection of the king or pharaoh. Although real Egyptian cobras do not spit venom, Wadjet spits venom at anyone who threatens a pharaoh or a royal tomb. The wearer of a cobra crown believed that Wadjet defended him and validated his claim to rule Egypt. Wadjet was a mother-figure to kings their royal status was, like life, a direct gift from her. A vulture goddess, Wadjet’s counterpart named Nekhbet, wears a white crown and represents Upper Egypt. The jeweled funerary pectorals buried with the boy-king Tutankhamun depict both Wadjet and Nekhbet, wearing their colored crowns and guarding the king, who has transfigured into the god Osiris.

Ancient Egyptian Fashion: So Understated We Had To Dig To Find It

Although Egyptian civilization is one of the oldest in the world, they manage to influence our modern society in many ways. One of those ways is fashion. Ever since the original Egyptian craze a century ago, Egyptian fashion has influenced modern designers on an off. The key to the timelessness of ancient Egyptian fashion is that they knew how to keep things simple and elegant. In the nearly 5,000 years of their empire’s existence the typical costume of Ancient Egypt didn’t change all that much. However, the small trends and fads that did occur often prove useful to Egyptologists who want to date an artifact and also for anyone wanting to dress like an Egyptian for Halloween. For those researching for an accurate costume, you may find it harder to sport the real deal in public than you thought. So let’s take a look at Egyptian trends and expand our knowledge and costume options.

Ancient Egyptian jewelry display in our Hall of Ancient Egypt.

These days we think of jewelry as an accessory. When dressing for work in the morning, you’re probably more concerned about putting pants on than strapping on your nicest wristwatch or favorite necklace. For the Ancient Egyptians, however, jewelry would have been considered essential and most Egyptians wore far more pieces of jewelry than they did articles of clothing

Clothes were an expensive commodity, most men and women commonly wore shentis (kilts) and nothing else. While working outside it was perfectly acceptable to go nude, partly to avoid damaging clothes and partly to stay cool, both men and women did it throughout Egyptian history. Basic body coverage was desirable, and essential in cooler months, but anything above that was considered an optional accessory and few could afford such luxury. Thus one major reason jewelry was so important in Ancient Egyptian society was because it was one of the few ways people could show off their wealth, however meager, and social status.

Another reason jewelry was so important was the supposed magical qualities certain pieces possessed. Certain amulets were considered to have protective powers, so some form of these amulets would be worn by most Egyptians at all times in order to avoid illness or ward off evil. In our collection at HMNS, we have several scarab-shaped beads with small prayers carved in the back, meant to invoke health or success. The spiritual protection provided by jewelry was considered far more important than the physical protection of clothes.

So, partly for magical protection, but also because it looks pretty, everyone wore jewelry. Even the poor would wear cheap jewelry made from faience or natural fibers.

Wigs were worn throughout Egyptian history. There are a number of theories as to why Ancient Egyptians wore wigs:

  • Shaving one’s head helped to prevent lice, wigs would be worn over shaved heads
  • Wigs helped to hide grey or thinning hair
  • It was good to have the option to take your hair off to stay cool in the North African heat.

Wigs were made out of a variety of materials, including plant fiber, wool and human hair. The finest wigs were made out of human hair. Most wigs were black, but blonde wigs were popular as well.

Most evidence for what the Ancient Egyptians wore comes from preserved statues, reliefs and paintings found in tombs and temples. The general trend is that as time went on, people wore more clothes. In depictions from the Old Kingdom (2,686 BCE-2,181 BCE) , both men and women are often portrayed wearing knee length kilts, called shentis, leaving their chests bare. Men of high class are only distinguished from commoners by their jewelry and the occasional leopard skin worn across the chest. Upper class women sometimes wore long, skin tight dresses called kalasiris that extended from just below the bust to just above the ankles and were held up either by a belt or by shoulder straps. These dresses did not always cover the breasts as the Egyptians had no taboo against women showing their chest in public.

An Old Kingdom Offering-Bearer. Source: Johns Hopkins Archaeology Museum.

Although the depictions show the dresses as being skin-tight, Egyptologists are uncertain whether the clothing actually fit this way, whether this is a little bit of “ancient photoshop” to make loose garments appear tight, or whether it’s an attempt to portray the sheer (and rather revealing) fabric that wealthy Egyptians wore, through which the outline of one’s body could be seen. The reason behind this uncertainty is that very few examples of women’s clothing exist from Ancient Egypt, so there’s not much of a sample to study. The dresses that are preserved are generally loose fitting. One thing that is for sure is that without stretchy fabrics it would have taken an incredibly skilled tailor to make a skin-tight dress out of the rigid linen and maybe cotton fabrics that were available and considering that only a few generations earlier everyone was wearing reeds and animal skins and that there wasn’t any other traditions of tailoring from nearby civilizations to borrow from, it seems unlikely that they would have possessed the requisite knowledge and skill to make form fitting dresses like the ones that appear in the art.

Egyptian bead dress, reconstructed from beads dated to the Old Kingdom, on display in our Hall of Ancient Egypt.

Sometimes women of the Old Kingdom are depicted wearing bead dresses over their white linen garments. The beads from the dresses have been preserved in several tombs and we have a reconstruction of one such dress on display in our Hall of Ancient Egypt. In the colder moths women would wear shawls or robes and men would wear robes.

During the Middle Kingdom (2055 BCE-1650 BCE) both women’s and men’s fashion remained pretty much the same, except for the addition of elaborate pleats to their garments and also the practice of tying men’s kilts in elaborate knots just above the crotch. The pleats are actually pretty significant because nobody knows how exactly they were able to keep the cloth stiff enough to maintain the creases. Most likely starch was used but where it came from is uncertain.

During the New Kingdom Egyptians began to significantly spice up their wardrobe. The New Kingdom (1550 – 1077 BCE) is the age of Imperial Egypt. The nation had been large and wealthy before, but during this period they spread their borders from Modern day Sudan in the South all the way up to present day Turkey in the North.

Image of woman from the New Kingdom. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Print showing a man riding a chariot, holding a bow and accompanied by a young man and some type of cat possibly a leopard, 1884. Author unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps benefiting from increased contact with other cultures, or maybe benefiting from technological achievements, Egyptian fashion took a huge step forward. New Kingdom attire is what most people imagine when they think of Egyptian fashion. During this period men wore longer kilts which stopped just below the knees. The kilts were pleated and sometimes tied at the front. Men also sometimes wore loose fitting, short sleeve blouses, often in a sheer material (if they could afford it). Women wore long dresses that were similar to those of previous eras, but were accented with ‘capelets’, which were shawl-like capes made of pleated sheer fabric that attached to a collar and covered the shoulders. It was still common for women to wear dresses which leave the chest exposed, however in this period sheer capelets now provide some coverage. Colorful textiles show up more commonly in the New Kingdom than in previous eras, with elaborate check designs being sported by certain queens. There are also depictions of queens wearing colorful sashes and patterned shawls over the still popular white kalasiris. Colorful beaded dresses continued to be worn. Men’s kilts and tunics often featured elaborate patterns as well.

If we’ve learned anything from our little foray into the study of ancient Egyptian fashion, it’s keep your clothes simple and understated but don’t be afraid to accessorize. Indeed that seems to be a common link between renown fashionistas of all eras, with a few notable exceptions. And as far as Egyptian Halloween costumes, well unfortunately the ancient Egyptian fascination with sheer fabric makes that difficult. Luckily,though, only the very wealthy could afford sheer fabric, so you can dress a modestly successful Egyptian, sporting the same style clothing but in coarser, non-transparent fabric, to avoid making anyone blush.

Adventure is my middle name. Well… actually it’s French. Literally, it’s Christopher French Wells. But the spirit of adventure lives in me, and has always inspired me to go out and seek new experiences. I’ve traveled to Europe, Mexico and South America, as well as few places in the U.S. I’ve seen different places with different cultures, learned some things about humanity and about myself in particular. My goal is to lend my unique perspective, carved out of my own triumphs and tragedies, fears and fancies encountered during my years of college and international travel, to the other great voices of this blog. Hopefully to the enjoyment of our readers…

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Did the ancient Egyptians dress living cats in jewelry? - History

Egypt is a hot country and so people wore lightweight clothes which kept them cool. We can see what they wore from the many paintings and sculptures they left behind.

Ancient Egyptian clothes covered most of their skin and were made from plant fibres such as linen.

Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant which the Egyptians grew.

What did the children of Ancient Egypt dress Like?

Most young children went around completely naked. When they were six years old they began to wear clothes that would protect them from the intense dry heat.

What did Egyptian men wear?

Men of the working classes wore a loincloth or short kilt and sometimes a type of shirt.

What did Egyptian women wear?

Women wore straight dresses with one or two shoulder straps.

Why did the Ancient Egyptians wear make-up and jewellery?

The Egyptians wore make-up and jewel to honour the gods. Both men and women wore blue and green eyeshadow and black eyeliner.

One item of jewellery, the amulet, was believed to protect the owners and give them strength.

More informaton about Egyptian clothing

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©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

Animals in Ancient Egypt

Animals played an important part in the economy, religion and society of the ancient Egyptians. Many gods were closely associated with one or more animals and certain animals were considered to be living incarnations of a deity.

Find out more about: cats in ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptian bull cults. The Egyptians also created animal mummies (including rather sweet mummies of pets).

Watch the video: Πως θα επιβιώσουν οι γάτες στο παραλιακό μέτωπο της Γλυφάδας χωρίς τροφή; (June 2022).


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