Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Etruscan Kitties

Tomb of the Leopards, Tarquinia
The Etruscans used many animal figures in their frescoes and sculptures and pottery, which feature creatures both real and legendary.  I am particularly enchanted with their depictions of cats - usually big cats - which, like the leopards above, tend to be stylized, sinuous, and exotic.

The famous Chimera of Arezzo
Herakles and the lion

So - were the Etruscans surrounded by lions and leopards and panthers, oh my?  Well, no, probably not.  But what they did have was the little versions - little cats.  Like the one shown on the wall, in relief, in this tomb:

Tomb of the Reliefs, Cerveteri
See the little guy arching his back under a coil of rope, also sculptured in relief, on the pillar?  Some argue this is not a cat, but it sure looks catlike to me.  And this particular tomb is filled with depictions of the objects of everyday life in Etruscan days.

And now, because I have pretty much no time for blogging this week, I'm going to get really lazy and show you some present-day descendants of Etruscan cats, photographed last spring in Tarquinia, Cerveteri, and Orvieto.   Enjoy!

Cat walking past Etruscan tomb (Cerveteri)

Images in this post are either our own, or in the public domain.

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