History, myth, art Catherine Johns

History, myth, art Catherine JohnsAn entertaining look at the key roles cattle have played in human society throughout history, from beasts of burden to sacred creatures.

Though cattle have been key in shaping our society, they are not often studied and admired as they should be. For millennia they have provided labour, products and food for humans, as well as becoming religious and artistic focal points in many cultures. Richly illustrated, Cattle examines and celebrates the various positions of these majestic beasts.

This compelling and attractive book traces how cattle have permeated all areas of human living. From the bull-fighting of modern Spain to the water-buffalo racing of Malaysia, various objects depict the presence of cattle in sporting competitions across the globe. The past also reveals mysterious connections between cattle and religion: Mithraism had a strong hold over the ancient Egyptians while the cow still remains sacred in Hinduism. Greek myths of the Minotaur and Europa also demonstrate the fixation of cattle in folklore.

Illustrations of beautiful objects from the British Museum accompany the text, providing examples of the various ways cattle have been considered and celebrated throughout time. Egyptian paintings on papyrus, Indian graphites, funerary urns from Cyprus and sculpture from the Roman Empire are only some of the artistic treasures enclosed in the book. Folklore, art and history are brought together here and analysed in an engaging narration by a professional and well-established author. Showcasing some magnificent masterpieces, Cattle illustrates and explores the significance of cattle across the ages and throughout many different cultures.

Catherine Johns is a retired curator of Romano-British antiquities at the British Museum. Her other books include Horses: History, Myth and Art; Dogs: History, Myth and Art, and Sex or Symbol? Erotic Images of Greece and Rome.

Publishing November 2011 192 pages
200 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 0 7141 5084 0 PB £19.99