Bast: Observations and Pharaohs

The wild cat of antiquity was not something you wanted angry at you. In the worldview of the ancient Egyptians, the ferocity of many wild creatures was turned into the beneficial protection of a god. The precision of the hawk, the lion's calculating ruthlessness, the bull's strength -- all these things were turned into strengths the gods Themselves wielded to the benefit of Their worshippers.

As the Eye of Ra and punisher of the enemies of ma'at, Bast is invested with the cat's grace, strength, speed, and cruelty. She encapsulates the charm, patience, and wile of a domestic cat, as well as the potential for the raw brute strength of a lion.

Bast is shown wearing the White Crown and stretching the cord with an Old Kingdom pharaoh in one fragment from Her temple in Bubastis, a pose usually associated with the goddess Seshat. Bast is additionally referred to as the mother of Yinepu (GR: Anubis) in the Pyramid Texts. This may very well be a pun on Her name, which is written with the ointment-jar hieroglyph. The nome where Bubastis resided in -- the Heliopolitan nome -- was, until the later periods of Kemetic history, associated with both Bast and Aset (GR: Isis). And though Bast took prominence in Bubastis, She shared the city with three other goddesses: Sekhmet, Wadjet, and Seshmetet.

Pharaohs who were identified with Bast include:

  • Khaefre (Old Kingdom) - portrayed in sculpture together with Her.
  • Shepseskaf (Old Kingdom) - titled "the Beloved of Het-hert-Bast".
  • Amenemhet III (Middle Kingdom) - refers to Her in a hymn: "Bast is She who protects the lands."
  • Senwosret I-III (Middle Kingdom) - whose names mean, literally, "Son of the Strong Lady" in reference to Bast
  • Seti I (New Kingdom) - titled "the Priest of Yinepu [Gr: Anubis], the son of Bast".
  • Osorkon II (Late Period) - named the "son of Bast" in his cartouche (the Libyan kings especially took a liking to Her). [20]

Kemetic Religion
  Bastet Explained
  Cult Centers
  ...and Sekhmet
  ...and Artemis
  ...and Sex
  Modern Myths
Other Feline Gods
About Pasht


Essay copyright © 1996-2010, S.D. Cass; Site copyright © 2013, N. Baan
How to cite this work.