2023 Author: Alex Livingston | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 11:39
The Mammone Cat, or King of Cats, is a magical creature of popular tradition, with the characteristics of a huge cat with look terrifying, whose name derives from the meeting of the term cat with that of Mammon, both attributed to the devil. Such a Cat would have been devoted to scaring the herds grazing with demonic movements and expressions, and so stealthy as to also assault people unaware and tear them to pieces.
However, in other narratives it is seen as a positive spirit and has a protective function, being immune to the spells of other spirits. Sometimes it may have a white "em" on its black face, sometimes it may be all black and hiding in the darkest corners.
According to some studies, the tradition of the Mammon Cat has its roots in the ancient Mesopotamian culture. However, this magical creature also appears frequently in traditional fairy tales of many Italian regions, from Sardinia to Puglia to Veneto and it is mentioned above all to scare children. It often appears in ours too literature since its origins as, for example, in Marco Polo's “Milione”.
For those unfamiliar with it, let's read the tale of the Mammon Cat together:
Once upon a time there was a woman who had an ugly-looking daughter and a very beautiful stepdaughter. The woman loved her ugly daughter much more and they were both jealous of the beautiful girl. Their envy and contempt led them to treat the poor girl like a scullery maid and made her do all the housework, even the heaviest ones.
One day the stepmother sent the girl to the river to wash two baskets of clothes and giving her the soap told her that she should not waste it. However, while the young woman was washing the clothes, the soap slipped from her hands and, falling into the water, she was carried away by the current. The poor desperate girl began to cry and at that moment an old woman passed by who, knowing what had happened, told her to go to the cat house where she would find the Mammon Cat who would help her.
The poor girl went to the castle and once inside, she helped all the kittens she met along the way to do the housework. When the girl had finished helping them, she finally came in the presence of the Mammon Cat who gave her the soap. In addition, he warned her that on the way home she would not have to turn when the donkey brayed, but to turn around if she heard a rooster crow. The girl did as she was told and it was thus that a gold star appeared on her forehead.
The next day, the mother decided to send her ugly daughter to the cats to see if she too would be rewarded. The girl then went to the river and dropped the soap and, having met the old woman, received the same advice, however when she arrived at the castle her pride did not allow her to help the cats with the housework. The Mammon Cat gave her soap anyway, telling her to go back to the river to wash her clothes and to turn around when the donkey brayed, so a donkey's tail sprouted on her forehead. The fame of the girl with a star on her forehead, on the other hand, reached the prince who asked her to be his wife and led her to his castle, where she lived loved and praised by all for her whole life.
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