In the syncretic Muslim belief of Lahij (located in northern Azerbaijan), the mummified cat, embedded in this wall above the samovars, is thought to ward off evil. There is also a history, around the world, of placing mummified cats within the walls of your home for the same reason.
Azerbaijani, located in the southern Caucasus, became part of the Persian Empire from the 6th century BC, and the ethnic groups speaking dialects related to Persian started to migrate up in the mountains. This move accelerated under the Sassanians (3rd to 7th centuries AD). Lahij is well known for its extensive range and skills in crafts making. Someday I hope to visit. For now I can check out the Azerbaijan Cultural Center which I recently discovered in my neighborhood!
The religious communities there today range from Persian, Sunni, Shiite, Armenian Christian, to Mountain Jews. Syncretism describes the fusion of these and other diverse religious beliefs.
Read more about Lahij here.