Amulets were popular in Ancient Egypt and were worn by the living or buried with the dead. The common word for amulet in the dynastic period was mkt, which means protector: amulets were designed to protect their owners. Amulets were usually modelled in the shape of specific deities. The goddess Bastet was depicted both as a tame cat but also as a ferocious lion-headed figure. She retained a lion’s head when depicted as a woman which frequently causes confusion with identification and is often confused with the goddess Sekhmet. Bastet, like her animal counterpart, was associated with fecundity and commonly portrayed with kittens. Thus, she was adored as the goddess of fertility and protector of pregnant women and young children. Small amulets such as this one were intended to bestow such properties to their wearer. One popular depiction of Bastet depicts her seated, surrounded with a litter of kittens, to pronounce her fecundity. Usually made from faience this type appears after the Third Intermediate Period. Amulets of Bastet, because of her association with fertility, were often worn in life as well as in the afterlife.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.