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Manwon Lender

The Ancient Origins of 8 Common Superstitions

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Manwon Lender

"It’s really weird how a completely ridiculous belief can live on through the ages. A black cat crossing the road will bring misfortune, but you can try to mitigate that by knocking on wood. What, are you not following the logic? 

We hold many fascinating superstitions about how completely inconsequential things can affect our lives. But where do these bizarre beliefs come from?""

https://www.oddee.com/the-ancient-origins-of-8-common-superstitions-60241/

 

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Abramelin

How about not stepping on a crack in the pavement, or crossing your fingers?

Btw., crossing your fingers is an American thing, right?

 

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jaylemurph
4 minutes ago, Abramelin said:

Btw., crossing your fingers is an American thing, right?

Americans do it, but it's an ancient, world-wide practice. I think the chi-rho things is bunk, but the site does have old images.

--Jaylemurph

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Wepwawet

The first superstition about "lucky black cats" in Ancient Egypt is wrong. It's a widespread assumption that because some statues of cats are black or very dark due to the material they are made from, like the bronze Gayer-Anderson cat, then either all cats, or some cats, in Egypt were black. It's unlikely that black cats had put in an appearance until much later, with all tomb paintings of cats showing them to be striped. The "black cat" statues are either marked with flecks, or, in the case of the Gayer-Anderson cat and others, have six lines inscribed around the end of their tails to represent their striped appearance without trying to replicate the markings over the entire statue. I assume that some people think these mythical Egyptian black cats are lucky is because the statues usually do not represent the household moggy, but Bastet, you can tell this if the statue has a wadjet eye, usually on it's chest.

Here's a title for an article "The modern origins of common misconceptions about the ancient world - or why people make stuff up"

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Abramelin
On 9/21/2021 at 9:23 PM, jaylemurph said:

Americans do it, but it's an ancient, world-wide practice.

--Jaylemurph

In Vietnam the gesture is considered rude,[9][10] especially to another person. Referring to female genitals, it is comparable to the finger in western culture.

In German-speaking countries and also Sweden and Latvia the gesture is a sign of lying.

 

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Orphalesion

There is at least one error in that list, it claims Baldr got killed in a fight to kick out Loki, the uninvited 13th guest at a banquet.

That's not true, in the surviving narrative Loki tricked Hodr into killing Baldr, long before that banquet took place. What Loki did during that banquet was flithing the other gods (basically doing the Viking version of a rap battle to point out somebodies flaws, failures and vices) and boasted about his role in Baldr's demise. It ended with Loki getting chained up underground. 

So, if they made that mistake in researching, then I don't trust the rest of the article either. Who knows how many other mistakes they made?

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Thanos5150
Posted (edited)
On 9/21/2021 at 1:17 PM, Wepwawet said:

The first superstition about "lucky black cats" in Ancient Egypt is wrong. It's a widespread assumption that because some statues of cats are black or very dark due to the material they are made from, like the bronze Gayer-Anderson cat, then either all cats, or some cats, in Egypt were black. It's unlikely that black cats had put in an appearance until much later, with all tomb paintings of cats showing them to be striped. The "black cat" statues are either marked with flecks, or, in the case of the Gayer-Anderson cat and others, have six lines inscribed around the end of their tails to represent their striped appearance without trying to replicate the markings over the entire statue. I assume that some people think these mythical Egyptian black cats are lucky is because the statues usually do not represent the household moggy, but Bastet, you can tell this if the statue has a wadjet eye, usually on it's chest.

Bastet was commonly portrayed as a black cat, like the Gayer-Anderson cat, not cats in general. A way to easily identify her who in DE art as a rule were tabby like this super cat: 

 

Tomb_of_Nebamun.jpg

 

Perhaps symbolic just as Anubis was depicted as a black dog. I've never heard of any superstition that only black cats in particular were good luck in ancient Egypt, but cats in general certainly were, including black cats, part of the very reason they became so venerated and one of their main functions.  

Edited by Thanos5150

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Thanos5150
1 hour ago, Thanos5150 said:

A way to easily identify her who in DE art as a rule were tabby like this super cat: 

I have no idea what happened to this sentence. It should read: "A way to easily identify her. In DE art as a rule common cats were tabby like this super cat:" 

 

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Wepwawet
1 hour ago, Thanos5150 said:

Bastet was commonly portrayed as a black cat, like the Gayer-Anderson cat, not cats in general. A way to easily identify her who in DE art as a rule were tabby like this super cat: 

 

Tomb_of_Nebamun.jpg

 

Perhaps symbolic just as Anubis was depicted as a black dog. I've never heard of any superstition that only black cats in particular were good luck in ancient Egypt, but cats in general certainly were, including black cats, part of the very reason they became so venerated and one of their main functions.  

It's thought that black cats did not appear until into the Late Period, possibly from cross breeding with non Egyptian cats. Tomb paintings of nobles and depictions of the various Netherworld Books in the tombs of kings show many cats, but all are pretty much the same as the famous Nebamun cat, likewise in the Saytirical Papyrus. Temple depictions have lost their colour, and no Temples to Bastet have survived anyway. Even if the millions of cat mummies were all unwrapped to try to see what coat colours they had, or to do a DNA test, which could show that it may have had the genes for a black coat, it wouldn't really help as the vast majority of these mummies are from the Late Period, when black cats are known. I suspect that these tales of black cats have been added onto the well known love for cats that the Egyptians had, because the Egyptians themselves, as far as I know, make no mention of black cats, and as you say, and I did in my initial post, It's only Bastet that can be black, and colouration of gods is symbolic of aspects of a god, not the real animal. Bastet was mostly a lioness anyway, so her "natural" coat would be sandy. Another issue which causes a perception of black cats in Egypt is the large amount of kitsch going around, typically based on the Gayer-Anderson cat, and showing it jet black with gold jewelry etc, because it looks appealing, and sells very well.

An example of making things up is the tale of the Roman official who was executed for accidently killing a cat, and this gets retold as it being a black cat, with no evidence at all, but it sounds better that way, and as it's such a minor and mundane issue, everybody just accepts it as the truth, and to be honest, it's really not important at all, except in giving the Egyptians a superstition there is no record of, and they had quite enough superstitions without new ones needing to be made up.

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Thanos5150
On 10/3/2021 at 10:44 AM, Wepwawet said:

It's thought that black cats did not appear until into the Late Period, possibly from cross breeding with non Egyptian cats. Tomb paintings of nobles and depictions of the various Netherworld Books in the tombs of kings show many cats, but all are pretty much the same as the famous Nebamun cat, likewise in the Saytirical Papyrus. Temple depictions have lost their colour, and no Temples to Bastet have survived anyway. Even if the millions of cat mummies were all unwrapped to try to see what coat colours they had, or to do a DNA test, which could show that it may have had the genes for a black coat, it wouldn't really help as the vast majority of these mummies are from the Late Period, when black cats are known. I suspect that these tales of black cats have been added onto the well known love for cats that the Egyptians had, because the Egyptians themselves, as far as I know, make no mention of black cats, and as you say, and I did in my initial post, It's only Bastet that can be black, and colouration of gods is symbolic of aspects of a god, not the real animal. Bastet was mostly a lioness anyway, so her "natural" coat would be sandy. Another issue which causes a perception of black cats in Egypt is the large amount of kitsch going around, typically based on the Gayer-Anderson cat, and showing it jet black with gold jewelry etc, because it looks appealing, and sells very well.

....But this was your original comment which I responded to:

The first superstition about "lucky black cats" in Ancient Egypt is wrong. It's a widespread assumption that because some statues of cats are black or very dark due to the material they are made from, like the bronze Gayer-Anderson cat, then either all cats, or some cats, in Egypt were black. 

Again, cats, including black cats, were considered good luck in Egypt. Very important part of their reverence. And also again, I am not sure where you are getting the notion of this superstition in the first place specifically related to black cats which is ultimately wrong as cats as again cats in general were "lucky". Who is saying this? And no, I don't think people think all cats in Egypt were black, not sure where you get this from, but clearly Bastet was portrayed at times as black which again as I said "Perhaps symbolic just as Anubis was depicted as a black dog." She started as a lioness but in later times, when these statutes of her as a cat appear and cat veneration exploded in general, she was a cat.  

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Wepwawet
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Thanos5150 said:

....But this was your original comment which I responded to:

The first superstition about "lucky black cats" in Ancient Egypt is wrong. It's a widespread assumption that because some statues of cats are black or very dark due to the material they are made from, like the bronze Gayer-Anderson cat, then either all cats, or some cats, in Egypt were black. 

Again, cats, including black cats, were considered good luck in Egypt. Very important part of their reverence. And also again, I am not sure where you are getting the notion of this superstition in the first place specifically related to black cats which is ultimately wrong as cats as again cats in general were "lucky". Who is saying this? And no, I don't think people think all cats in Egypt were black, not sure where you get this from, but clearly Bastet was portrayed at times as black which again as I said "Perhaps symbolic just as Anubis was depicted as a black dog." She started as a lioness but in later times, when these statutes of her as a cat appear and cat veneration exploded in general, she was a cat.  

My posts are in response to this from the link in the OP

Quote

 

Let’s start with the one we already mentioned. The belief that a black cat walking across the road ahead of you bring bad luck has its origins all the way back in ancient Egypt.

There’s one catch, though. The ancient Egyptians were famous cat lovers, and back in those days, people thought an encounter with a black cat actually brought good luck.

 

As you have pointed out, my first response was to say that this article is wrong. The reason I am saying it is wrong is that there is zero record of the AE having any superstitions about black cats, good or bad, and that black coated cats do not seem to have existed until no earlier than the Late Period, and perhaps later. The cat that the Egyptians domesticated was primarily Felis silvestris libyca, with Felis chaus somewhere in the mix, and the serval putting in an appearance in some scenes. All exist in their wild forms today, and they do not exhibit all black coats. There are no depictions of black cats from Ancient Egypt, I'm not even sure if Bastet was ever depicted as black except in modern reproductions and kitsch stuff, and as I mentioned in a previous post, for most of her existance, Bastet was depicted with the head of a lioness, not a domestic moggy.

Cats per se were not seen as lucky or unlucky, except for particularly large cats, which they called mii oa, and possibly saw a large cat as a potential manifestation, or reminded them of an epithet of Ra, miu oa, The Great Tomcat, and also perhaps with a manifestation of Atum as miit oa, the female determinative not being an issue with Atum. So a very good reason to see large cats as lucky as it seems that they represented the Sungod in various forms, but the rest of the moggies were just moggies, beloved of course, but otherwise neutral, and not black.

So, as I did point out, there's an issue with the article putting a later superstition about black cats onto the Egyptians with zero evidence, something I'm sure you will agree is lazy and sloppy.

Edited by Wepwawet
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