Thursday, 9 January 2014

Notable Cats

Bastet - in ancient Egypt mythology, a Goddess with the head of a cat.

Sekhemet - Goddess of war, healing, medicine, vengeance and fire - with the head of a lioness.

Maneki-Neko, the lucky beckoning cat of Japan, with an upright paw.  It is often seen at the entrance of businesses, restaurants and shops.  There are many folktales surrounding the Maneki-Neko's origins.  One of the favourite tales is:-

A young lady from Yoshiwara in eastern Tokyo, named Usugumo, owned a cat she was very fond of.  One day her friend, a swordsman visited her and the cat went mad clawing at the lady's kimono.  The swordsman, assuming the cat was attacking his friend, severed the head of the cat.  The head flew through the air lodging its teeth into a venomous snake on a board higher up, where it had been waiting to strike the lady.  Usugumo was so upset about the death of her cat, she couldn't sleep or eat and the swordsman felt so guilty he asked the best woodcarver in the land to make him a carving of the cat with a paw raised in greeting.  When he gave the carving to Usugumo, she became happy again, living a normal life.

Cat Sidhe - a fairy creature from Celtic mythology, resembling a big black cat with a white spot on the chest.

Some folklore suggests it wasn't a fairy, but a witch.

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