THE CAT IN ANCIENT EGYPT
By Jaromir Malek, published by the British Museum Press at £14.95. 144pp A4 HBk. ISBN: 0-7141-0969-X
This has to be one of the most charming, delightful and informative books I have read in a long time! Starting from the cat's wild origins in the deserts and marshes of pre-dynastic Egypt, Malek traces its gradual domestication, originally as a purely economic member of the household by about 2000bce through to its later association with the popular cult of Bastet from about 1000bce onwards. He also examines in depth the cat's depiction in sculpture and official tomb art, skillfully focusing on the small gestures which introduce a sense of individuality into the stock scenes, as well as its cartoon-like (such as a cat being beaten up by a goose) and occasionally blasphemous depiction in the personal and unofficial sketches of tomb-painters - plus what must be the earliest depiction of Tom and Jerry anywhere! Beautifully illustrated throughout with colour photographs and line drawings.
Overall this book somehow manages to be utterly enchanting and scholarly at the same time. A purrfect (I couldn't resist it ...!) gift for the moggy-lover or Bastet-freak in your life.