Breather #9

The hair of a goddess (3D)

A goddess and a cat

Many of you are probably familliar with this museum item, namely the “Gayer-Anderson cat”, preserved in the British Museum in London. It is the depiction of the goddess Bastet from the Ancient Egypt mythology.

Egyptian gods can take different forms and the way they are depicted change throughout history. One common trait probably originating from the old kingdom is the use of rare materials to describe them.

A very old description involving pyramids

The Pyramid Texts gives a description of the colors and materials related to the gods and the pharaohs, as studied in this article from M.Mathieu. The Book of the Heavenly Cow , thought to have begun within the Pyramid Texts, adds a vivid depiction of the appearance of Ra, column 2, verse 5 to 6 and column 3 verse 7.

I don’t know about you, but my hieroglyphics knowledge is somehow limited. So let’s just use what the specialists have to say (p32, note 38 from the Mathieu’s article).

sources and explanations about the texts can be found here:

“As to his majesty, let him live, be safe and in good health, be had grown old, his bones became like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair like real lapis-lazuli …”. It seems that the scholars admit that this description can be extended to other gods, as corroborated by the numerous artifacts representing gods in some or all of these materials.

The importance given to lapis-lazuli has been outlined many times in ancient orient, as in this study.

A cat with divine colours

The last scientific analysis of the Gayer-Anderson cat sculpture show it underwent different overcoats transformations, the last one being its distinctive green color. The original is believed to be a dark bronze with gold accents on the details.

Now what would happen if we were to digitally try to give the goddess the colours the ancient texts associated with her rank ?