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Felis Spp., the small cats

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Chapter Summary

Cats of the genus Felis are elegant, graceful and agile small carnivores. Usually they hunt at night; their normal prey consists of hares, rodents and lizards. Sculptures of the small cats are limited to reliefs with the seven mother-goddesses, in which case the cat accompanies the sixth goddess, Sasthi, and to narrative reliefs in which a cat plays a role. Not all reliefs of the seven mother-goddesses depict the animal vehicles; only in less than half of them the animals can be discerned. Narrative reliefs depict the cat as witty yet not be trusted, such as in the Story of the Cat and the Mice as illustrated at Mammalapuram, Tamil Nadu, and in the Story of the Cat and the Rooster as represented at Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh. In both cases, the cat is a deceptive creature, not to be trusted and only aiming at getting a meal.

Keywords: divine vehicle; Felis species; narrative reliefs; rooster; small cats; stone sculptures



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