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Did you know?: Decorative arts
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The mother-of-pearl 19th century broach.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

The cat of Eden

What was a cat doing with Adam, Eve and the snake?

Although this column in our website is called “Did you know…”, for this passage it should be called “Do you know why?”.

This beautiful mother-of-pearl 19th century broach depicted on your screen made us wonder due to the presence of the cat dozing off near the feet of Adam and Eve. The first couple holds the forbidden fruit while the snake swirls around the tree. Adam, quite reserved, points upwards with his right hand. They are both naked.

It seems that Adam and Eve have not tasted the forbidden fruit yet. Consequently, the cat cannot be connected with the medieval folktales associating her with witchcraft and, finally, the devil.

A thought is that the cat symbolizes the couple’s lust, as cats are lustful and cuddly creatures, while the forbidden fruit is associated to sexuality. Still, we can simply suggest that the artist loved his cat and decided to immortalize her!