Mafdet

The cheetah symbolises POWER.

Cheetahs were known by our ancestors as “flying cats” because at a sprint they appeared to be soaring over the ground. Airborne over half the time, they could accelerate to 75 km/hr straight away and hit a top speed of 110 km/hr. Taller than a leopard, these predators used their tail as a rudder to make turns during a chase.

At the birth of the First Dynasty the Egyptians worshipped the feline goddess Mafdet, who was portrayed as a cheetah. Mafdet was known as “the runner” and represented swift death. The spotted design of this sacred killer reminded our ancestors of the stars.

In temples like Deer el-Bahari  in northern Africa, cheetahs were often depicted with collars and leashes which suggested a place within the royal household. To some extent cheetahs also displaced hunting dogs in ancient Egypt—although rarely used to obtain food, they were used in coursing.

Despite their awesome hunting skills, cheetahs were never considered man-eaters and when reared from cubs they displayed strong protective instincts. Due to this trait, it was believed that guardian cheetahs carried away the spirits of the pharaohs when they died.

Above: cheetahs were symbolic of royal power

Cheetahs wear a “death mask” when they are stalking. This leaves their prey under no illusions about their intentions. In essence, the cheetah becomes the embodiment of death. Sadly, we have long forgotten that our evolution is tied to this powerful predator with a sprinting stride of six metres.

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