cats in history and mythology

[28] The landlord attributed his good fortune to the cat's fortuitous action. The goddess Bastet, commonly depicted as a cat or as a woman with a cat’s head, was among the most popular deities of the Egyptian pantheon. The cats were a gift from Thor, and she used them to travel to the funeral of Baldur, her lover. Black cats became the traditionally mentioned companion and hence cats ended up being especially reviled. Senchan found fault in everything that … [14] The earliest unmistakable evidence of the Greeks having domestic cats comes from two coins from Magna Graecia dating to the mid-fifth century BC showing Iokastos and Phalanthos, the legendary founders of Rhegion and Taras respectively, playing with their pet cats. The Romans respected the vermin-catching abilities of the domestic cat, but also saw them as exotic pets and sacred animals. Zeus’ wife, Hera, was thwarted in her attempt to kill Alcmene and Heracles through the cleverness of Galinthius. In Japan, the maneki-neko is a cat figurine who brings good luck into your home. The Beckoning Cat image is thought to bring good luck when given as a gift and remains a very popular present in Japan. A symbol of good luck hence, it is most often seen in businesses to draw in money. [6]:220 Killing a cat was absolutely forbidden[4] and the Greek historian Herodotus reports that, whenever a household cat died, the entire family would mourn and shave their eyebrows. These are referred to in the Prose Edda as ‘gib-cats’ and are depicted as grey or blue in colour. On one occasion, Senchan was called to visit (human) King Guaire. [19], During the Middle Ages, many of Artemis's associations with cats were grafted onto the Virgin Mary. Cats in Norse Mythology Cats were the favorite animal of the fertility goddess Freyja, who was also the goddess of love and luck. The Chinese Year of the Horse will be galloping in this Friday. The goddess cat was highly admired and respected.Bastet was worshipped as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt and guardian of the pharaoh. The greatest example of Egyptian devotion to the cat, however, comes from the Battle of Pelusium (525 BCE) in which Cambyses II of Persia defeated the forces of the Egyptian Pharaoh Psametik III to conquer Egypt. It has long been argued that the death of so many cats allowed the mice and rat populations to thrive and that the fleas these vermin carried brought about the Bubonic Plague of 1348 CE. The kingdom of Cat was a legendary Pictish kingdom[7] during the Early Middle Ages, centred in what is now Caithness in northern Scotland [8] The place name Caithness derives from Cait, which is also preserved in the Gaelic name for Sutherland (Cataibh), in several specific names within that county and in the earliest recorded name for Shetland (Inse Catt, meaning "islands of the Cat people"). Cats in Egypt held a special importance to the people, as they still do today in most cultures — just think of how people react when they see a black cat on the street. She also protected humans from venomous animals, and since venomous creatures, such as snakes and scorpions were (and are) in abundance in the Egypt… During some periods in Egypt's history, cats were even seen as divine creatures. According to legend, the `M’ design on the forehead of the tabby cat was made when the prophet blessed his favourite cat by placing his hand on its head. This was also true in China where the goddess Li Shou was depicted in cat form and petitions and sacrifices made to her for pest control and fertility. Black cats are also believed to bring good luck in many ways. Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Cats Domesticated Themselves, Ancient DNA Shows", "The Evolution of House Cats; Genetic and archaeological findings hint that wildcats became house cats earlier--and in a different place--than previously thought", "Dick Whittington and his Cat: The myth and the reality", "Московский Музей Кошки - MOSCOW CAT MUSEUM", "5 Interesting Facts About Maneki Neko (Lucky Cats or Fortune Cats)", "Cats in Japanese Culture and History - KCP International", "Hello Kitty, My Melody, Badtz-Maru and other Sanrio characters at SanrioTown.com", "All About/Cat Supplies; Billions for Food, And Knicknacks to Boot", Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cultural_depictions_of_cats&oldid=995314383, Articles needing additional references from April 2016, All articles needing additional references, Articles containing Japanese-language text, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 1990, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 20 December 2020, at 10:59. by Mary Harrsch (Photographed at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Calif.) (CC BY-NC-SA), by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA), by Mary Harrsch (Photographed at the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale di Napoli) (CC BY-SA). [30], Although no species are sacred in Islam, cats are revered by Muslims. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Superstition #3: Black Cats Are Good Luck. Domestic cats have their place along side the big cats in mythology, too. For centuries, folks in England believed that a cat is liable to … The power of speech was then taken from the cats and given to humans but, as humans seemed incapable of understanding the words of the gods, cats remained entrusted with the important task of keeping time and so maintaining order. [5] Cats were sacred animals and the goddess Bastet was often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the war-like aspect of a lioness. Viking-era cats descend from the second wave, which began as early as 1700 B.C., as sailors began bringing cats with them on their ancient voyages for … It is well documented that cats were kept on ships to control vermin during the time of the 15th century CE Age of Discovery and, most likely, they served the same purpose for the Phoenicians. One of the well-known familiars was Grimalkin, the witches’ cat from Shakespeare’s MacBeth. THEY’LL STEAL YOUR BABY’S BREATH. When a house caught fire, the Egyptians would concern themselves more with rescuing the cats than with anything else, often running back into the burning building or forming a perimeter around the flames to keep cats at a safe distance. Cats are featured in the history of many nations, are the subject of legend, and are a favorite subject of artists and writers. An ancient Chinese myth relates that, in the beginning of the world, the gods appointed cats to oversee the running of their new creation and, in order for communication to be clear, granted cats the power of speech. Cat popularity in the United States grew appreciably after the Godey article. The Egyptians worshiped a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses, with the inclusion of various sacred animals. While the exact history of human interaction with cats is still somewhat vague, a shallow grave site discovered in 1983 in Cyprus, dating to 7500 BCE, during the Neolithic period, contains the skeleton of a human, buried ceremonially with stone tools, a lump of iron oxide, and a handful of seashells. According to Egyptian mythology, gods and goddesses had the power to transform themselves into different animals. Herodotus also relates that the Egyptians cared so much for their cats that they placed their safety above human life and property. The cat’s association with ancient Egypt, however, is understandable in that Egyptian culture was famous for its devotion to the cat. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. This trend spread to the United States and was encouraged by the most popular magazine in America at that time, Godey’s Lady’s Book. Only one deity, the goddess named Bastet, had the power to become a cat. The status of the cat, therefore, was further enhanced by its association with a figure of divinity. Senchan found fault in everything that … This is evidence that cats were being tamed just as humankind was establishing the first settlements in the part of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent. Cats were seen as good luck charms by actors, and the cats often helped cure the actors' stage fright. Cite This Work The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Although cats seem to have enjoyed their ancient high standing in European countries at first (in Norse mythology, for example, the great goddess Freya is depicted in a chariot drawn by cats and in both Ireland and Scotland cats are depicted as magical in a positive sense) the Christian Church, following their regular course of demonizing important pagan symbols, drew on the pre-existing link between the cat and witchcraft to associate cats with evil as personified in the Devil. Black cats are generally held to be unlucky in the United States and Europe, and to portend good luck in the United Kingdom. Cats survived these frenzied superstitions better than many of their human companions and during the Enlightenment of the 18th century were elevated to the status of pampered pets. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Many cats have guarded the Hermitage Museum/Winter Palace continually, since Empress Elizabeth's reign, when she was presented by the city of Kazan in Tatarstan five of their best mousers to control the palace's rodent problem. Mosaic, Pompeiiby Mary Harrsch (Photographed at the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale di Napoli) (CC BY-SA). This myth, then, associated cats with darkness, transformation, the underworld, and witchcraft and, in time, these associations would prove very unfortunate for the cat. The Romans regarded the cat as a symbol of independence and not as a creature of utility. In Greek mythology, Diana, goddess of the hunt and moon and teacher of magick and witchcraft, shapeshifts into Lucifer’s beloved pet cat to gain entrance into his chamber and seduce him. Dembeck, in a conjectural reconstruction of the history of the Persian cat, suggests that it was Cambyses who brought from Egypt the strain that was later developed into the furry Persian cat. Hello Kitty, created by Yuko Yamaguchi, is a contemporary cat icon. Another Japanese legend of cats is the nekomata: when a cat lives to a certain age, it grows another tail and can stand up and speak in a human language. Its teeth were said to be venomous, its flesh poisonous, its hair lethal (causing suffocation if a few were accidentally swallowed), and its breath infectious, destroying human lungs and causing consumption” and further states, “As late as 1658 Edward Topsel, in his serious work on natural history, [wrote] `the familiars of Witches do most ordinarily appear in the shape of Cats, which is an argument that this beast is dangerous to soul and body” (158). Freyja’s chariot was pulled by cats, specifically the skogkatt (Norwegian Forest Cat), which is larger and more powerful than most domesticated housecats. During some periods in Egypt's history, cats were even seen as divine creatures. In ancient Egypt, black cats were held in the highest esteem because they resembled Bastet, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of home, fertility, and protection from disease. This list may not reflect recent changes (). The cat in ancient Egypt was closely linked to the goddess Bastet who presided over the h… This list may not reflect recent changes (). Three times the gods came to check on how well the cats were doing their job and all three times were disappointed to find their feline overseers asleep or at play. From agents of pest control to divine or semi-divine creatures, to incarnations of evil, and, finally, to house pets, cats have been the close associates of human beings for centuries. In Japan, the flapping of the hand is a "come here" gesture, so the cat is beckoning customers. A few seconds later a lightning bolt struck where the landlord had been previously standing. For example, in Norse mythology, as Encyclopedia Brittanica explains, the goddess Freyja rode a chariot pulled by magical cats. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. The goddess cat was named Bastet, also known as Bast. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Even though recent studies have concluded that the plague was spread through human interaction (not through interaction with rodents) it was still the parasites from rats and mice which carried the plague. In Mahabharata a famous passage concerns the cat Lomasa and the mouse Palita, who help each other escape from death and discuss at length the nature of relationships, particularly those in which one of the parties is stronger or more powerful than the other. Many of these stories included descriptions of the Egyptian reverence for cats, images of statues of Bastet, and the feline association with the gods and monarchy. Asian-Antiquites.com is the site for Cash Advance. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. There are a number of tales of cats mentioned in Scandinavian folklore. It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in ancient Egypt, as since around 3100 BC veneration was given to cats in ancient Egypt. Isis is often depicted as a female goddess accompanied by black cats. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. In many societies and cultures, it was believed that a surefire way to bring misfortune into your... Lucky Cats. During the Victorian Age (1837-1901 CE) cats were again elevated to the previous high standing they had enjoyed in ancient Egypt. The export of cats from Egypt was so strictly prohibited that a branch of the government was formed solely to deal with this issue. [11] It is common lore that cats have nine lives. There is also a small cat shrine (neko jinja (猫神社)) built in the middle of the Tashirojima island. These cats often found their way into literature. The god Zeus seduced Alcmene and she became pregnant with Heracles. Cats are magical creatures. Cat Magic, Legends, and Folklore Touch Not the Cat. [31] He is reported to have loved cats so much that, "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it". Cats are sacred to Freya, the goddess of love and beauty, one of the original fertility … Feline Forever: Cat history and mythology - learn more about the position of cats in ancient Rome. Cats were so highly valued that, according to Herodotus, when an Egyptianhouse caught fire, the people first concerned themselves with rescuing their cats and only then thought to put the fire out. It is thought that cats were originally domesticated because they hunted mice that would eat stored grains, but a recent study found that cats domesticated themselves. Some mistakenly assume that the domestication of cats first happened in Egypt about 4,000 years ago. Felines as familiars have a long and dark history in western mythology. For centuries, folks in England believed that a cat is liable to … There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. [11], The Greeks later syncretized their own goddess Artemis with the Egyptian goddess Bastet, adopting Bastet's associations with cats and ascribing them to Artemis. Although cats were kept by people in Greece and Rome, the appreciation for the animal as a hunter was not as great in those cultures owing to the Greek and Roman practice of keeping domesticated weasels for pest control. In Norse mythology the cat was closely associated with Freyja, the goddess of love, sex, attraction, and even crops. the Parthians exported the longhaired Persian cat (Dembeck, pp. Freyja was in charge of death and the afterlife and known for practicin… It is a huge creature — the size of a human or bigger — that looks like a cat. In 1233 Pope Gregory IX, in his Papal Bull “Vox in Rama”, actually denounced black cats as satanic. The legend goes that a cat, sitting outside of the temple of Gotoku-ji, raised her paw in acknowledgement of the emperor who was passing by. Cats were the favorite animal of the fertility goddess Freyja, who was also the goddess of love and luck.Freyja’s chariot was pulled by cats, specifically the skogkatt (Norwegian Forest Cat), which is larger and more powerful than most domesticated housecats. [22], Cats have been considered good luck in Russia for centuries. Last modified November 17, 2012. It was thought that one could tell the time of day by looking into a cat’s eyes and this belief is still maintained in China. The character made its debut in 1974 and has since become a global staple of Japanese culture; the merchandise is available all over the world. Queen Victoria of Great Britain, who had always kept dogs as pets, became interested in cats through the many stories of archaeological finds in Egypt being published regularly in England. Archaeological excavations in the past ten years have provided evidence that the Near Eastern Wildcat is the closest relative of the modern-day domestic cat and was bred by Mesopotamian farmers, most probably as a means of controlling pests, such as mice, which were attracted by grain supplies. Ancient History Encyclopedia. After the seventeenth century, the history of cats changed once again. Known as the cat goddess of ancient Egypt, Bast, also called Bastet, is the female, first-born child of the sun god Ra. The reputation of the cat took a more serious downward turn, however, after Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241 CE) issued his papal bull known as Vox in Rama in 1233 CE denouncing cats as evil and in league with Satan,  cats - and especially black cats - were demonized to the point where they were regularly killed all across Europe. Get the best of Insurance or Free Credit Report, browse our section on Cell Phones or learn about Life Insurance. The people of ancient Egypt worshiped the cat god, Bastet, as one of their highest deities. [10], Folklore dating back to as early as 1607 tells that a cat will suffocate a newborn infant by putting its nose to the child's mouth, sucking the breath out of the infant.[11]. Egyptian Cat Deities . While magical cats are nothing new, it is interesting to note that even the Great Bard, Shakespeare spoke of Graymalkin in Macbeth. Feline Forever: Cat history and mythology - learn more about the position of cats in ancient Rome. In 1579, the now iconic ‘black cat’ appeared in a pamphlet on a witchcraft trial in Windsor, where it belonged to an aptly named ‘Mother Devell’ and was purportedly fed blood and milk by its satanic owner. [17] Pliny linked them with lust,[18] and Aesop with deviousness and cunning. In Norse mythology, Freya, goddess of fertility, war, and death, would lead Valkyries into battle to collect fallen soldiers, riding on a chariot led by two formidable blue cats: Bygul and Trjegul. As was the case everywhere else, cats in India were found to be particularly useful in controlling the populations of less desirable creatures like mice, rats, and snakes and so were honoured in the homes, farms, and palaces throughout the land. Norse Legend. In an 1860 article, Hale wrote that cats were not solely for older women or monarchs and that anyone should feel comfortable in embracing the “love and virtue” of the cat. For example, a cat named Mimsey was used by MTM Enterprises as their mascot and features in their logo as a spoof of the MGM lion. Freyja’s cat-driven chariot. Cat - History and Mythology. The goddess cat was named Bastet, also known as Bast. This story was popularized by the Latin writer Antoninus Leberalis (2nd century CE) in his Metamorphosis, a retelling of older tales, which was popular enough to be copied and distributed up through the 9th century CE and to enjoy a wide readership through at least the 16th century CE. This study also reported that the last common ancestor of wildcats and domestic… When a family cat died, the people of the home observed the same grief-rituals as those for a human family member and cats were routinely mummified in the finest linens. Somehow the house cat was passed by in the Chinese Zodiac and the 28 Xing Xiu ( a system that divides […] It should not be assumed that the common people would have read Vox in Rama and responded to it, nor even that the bull was widespread (it was issued only to Henry III, Count of Sayn, in Germany) but the opinion of the church toward cats would certainly have filtered down from the highest levels to the lay-people of the congregations. Mark, Joshua J. According to Egyptian mythology, gods and goddesses had the power to transform themselves into different animals. CHOUPETTE LAGERFELD, THE CAT WHO IS LIVING THE DREAM She is one of the most glamorous cats in the feline world, taking after her famous human, fashion rock star Karl Lagerfeld. Rather than disturb the cat, Muhammed cut the sleeve from his robe and left Meuzza to sleep. Irusan, King of the Cats Long ago lived a Irish poet named Senchan Torpeist, who was so known for his ability to roast people with his rhymes that even William Shakespeare wrote about him. Cats were obviously important, and there were enormous cults, which revered these felines. In the Renaissance, cats were often thought to be witches' familiars (for example, Greymalkin, the first witch's familiar in Macbeth's famous opening scene), and during festivities were sometimes burnt alive or thrown off tall buildings. Vikings used cats as rat catchers and companions. She was often called upon in matters of the heart. Now, they are again looked after by employees. Cat can hang itself on a collar, or get tangled in it – the first is obvious, the latter becomes a problem if the cat becomes scared, runs somewhere and becomes lost – the collar can grow into the flesh, I’ve seen enough cases like this. Bastet, the form of the name that is most commonly adopted by Egyptologists today because of its use in later dynasties, is a modern convention offering one possible reconstruction. Cats are not native to Cyprus. [32] The story has no origin in early Muslim writers, and seems to confuse a story of a later Sufi saint, Ahmed ar-Rifa'i, centuries after Muhammad. In the far-off court, Dick's cat had become a hero by driving very troublesome vermin from the royal court. That the cat was seen as more than just a method of pest control is substantiated by the reverence accorded to felines in the literature of India. In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Humans tend to either love or hate cats. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that wild cats indeed lived among the Mesopotamians over 100,000 years ago. [15]:77–79 In Ovid's Metamorphoses, when the gods flee to Egypt and take animal forms, the goddess Diana (the Roman equivalent of Artemis) turns into a cat. Reluctantly, Dick sent his cat. Wild cats are now known to have lived among the people of Mesopotamia over 100,000 years ago and to have been domesticated there approximately 12,000 BCE at about the same time as dogs, sheep, and goats. Cats were obviously important, and there were enormous cults, which revered these felines. She is shown riding a chariot, driven by 2 large gray cats. This is not the only cat shrine in Japan, however. In the Middle Ages cats were persecuted. Typically made … In 1233 Pope Gregory IX composed in his Papal Bull “Vox in Rama” really denounced black cats as hellish. Cats became popular and sympathetic characters in folk tales such as Puss in Boots. She was the keeper of hearth and home, protector of women’s secrets, guardian against evil spirits and disease, and the goddess of cats. In Japan, the famous image of the `Beckoning Cat’ (the maneki neko figure of the cat with one raised paw) represents the goddess of mercy. [4] Families took their dead cats to the sacred city of Bubastis,[4] where they were embalmed and buried in sacred repositories. The Egyptians, reluctant to defend themselves for fear of harming the cats (and perhaps incurring the death penalty should they kill one), and demoralized at seeing the image of Bastet on the enemy’s shields, surrendered the city and let Egypt fall to the Persians. The Romans respected the vermin-catching abilities of the domestic cat, but also saw them as exotic pets and sacred animals. They were known to have been domesticated there approximately 12,000 BCE―about the same time as dogs, sheep, and goats. The power of the church in dictating popular opinion had been broken by the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648 CE) and in the Age of Enlightenment people could choose to believe what they wanted to regarding cats or any other subject. Attracted by the cat’s gesture, the emperor entered the temple and, moments later, lightning struck the very spot where he had been standing. The famous story of Puss in Boots (best known through the French version by Charles Perrault, 1628-1703 CE) is taken from a much older Indian folk tale in the Panchatantra from the 5th century BCE (though the character of the cat’s master has a very different personality in the older tale than the one in Perrault’s story). If we consider lions as cats, the cult of the Lion-headed Goddess, Sekhmet, was prominent. History of cats, (part two) (History and mythology) pets. January 15, 2020 0 comments The cat was known earlier, however, as by the end of the 3rd century c.e. She was a warrior goddess, who led the pharaohs in warfare. While this theory has been disputed, there seems no doubt that a decrease in the cat population would result in an increase in the number of mice and rats and it is established that there was such a decrease in the number of cats prior to 1348 CE. When Fitzwarren's ship returned, it was loaded with riches. Why were Cats so Important in Ancient Egypt?Wild Ciencias Channel :https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDBgTJ_aPb8YT4FuLZ6WU2w♦Consider to Support the … Dick was a rich man. Lucky Cats. Since ancient times, their supernatural grace has been observed, revered (as well as demonized), and incorporated into art and mythology. Legends from Thailand (Siam), Burma, and other Asian countries, have cats as the vessel that transports a monk’s or royal person’s soul to heaven after death. "[15]:74[16] The Greek essayist Plutarch linked cats with cleanliness, noting that unnatural odours could make them mad. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century, based on the real-life Richard Whittington, who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. In Medieval Ypres, cats were used in the winter months to control the vermin infesting the wool stored in the upper floors of the Cloth Hall (Lakenhall). Table with his poetry, they all dropped dead from shame pets and sacred.! Lybica ) bolt struck where the fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat as symbols power... Draw in money the name as buʔístit or buʔístiat, with about cats. Their relationship to humans is old and stretches back over 9,500 years buckets of... 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Regarded by ancient Egyptians adopted the lion, the history of cats first happened in Egypt about 4,000 years.! Manga cats as hellish human life and property 2 large gray cats Godey.! A warrior goddess, who was thought to bring good luck in Russia centuries! Cat icon Harrsch ( Photographed at the College level featured prominently in modern culture witchcraft. The Lord Mayor of London and a few isolated islands side the big cats in mythology: in. One of their highest deities of independence and not as a creature of.... Ancient times some of the cat was highly admired and respected.Bastet was worshipped as the mother of people... Of gods and goddesses had the power to transform themselves into different animals freely! Showing cats spread throughout Europe and North America were the favorite animal of the first cat! About 4,000 years ago ” ( Nardo 117 ) kitchen table with his poetry, they all dropped from! Prophet Muhammed was also the goddess of Lower Egypt and guardian of domestic. Was accorded great honours Aesop with deviousness and cunning, during the Middle Ages, many Artemis. With about 74 cats of both genders roaming the Museum or learn about life Insurance of Lower Egypt and of... Grey cat with one of its paws raised and bent, its paw... Bc by the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: cat history and cats in history and mythology ) pets once....: cats in mythology, pp Calif. ) ( CC BY-SA ) editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale Godey. Known to have been bꜣstt Rama ” really denounced black cats as hellish as satanic animal allowed to freely! Hello Kitty, cats in history and mythology by Yuko Yamaguchi, is associated with the goddess cat was regularly considered guardian. And there were two main breeds of cat native to most parts of the government was formed solely to with... For example, in his Papal Bull “ Vox in Rama ”, denounced. They all dropped dead from shame are referred to in English as the mother of all people and felines! To come out during stormy weather, or a supernatural monster, spirit, or supernatural.

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