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 considered to be the daughter of Ra, the sun god, and was originally shown with the features of a lion up until about 1000 BC when she started being portrayed as a cat or human with a cat head. The maternal, protective and hunting characteristics of the cat are the most obvious in Bastet and she is seen as a protector of pregnant women and young children. Bastet amulets would have been worn particularly by women not only to place themselves under the patronage of Bastet, but also in the hope that the wearer might be endowed with the goddess’ fecundity.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.