Bast: Depictions

On Temple Walls
Bast's most common depiction on temple walls is as a woman with the head of either a cat, a lion, or a large desert cat.

Note that by "desert cat", we do not mean the approachable domesticates as we now know them. This is the feral cat of the desert, a calculating hunter and survivalist that was far from the (relatively) sweet-tempered creature that stalks neighborhoods today.

As a Woman
Except in one Ramesside depiction where She is syncretized with Mut (Mut-Bast), Bast is never shown fully human.

As a Domestic Cat
Bast only became associated with the domestic cat ca. 1000 BCE, nearly two thousnd years after Her worship began. Previous to that, the cat was considered "beneath" representation except in rare cases involving Mafdet (in the Pyramid Texts) and Ra. In the Litany of the Sun, seventy-five names of Ra are mentioned, along with His seventy-five corresponding forms. Two of those names are cats -- Miuty and Miu-Oa or "The Great Male Cat".

While Bast is perhaps better known as a domesticate, Her representation as a lion or desert cat did not cease with the advent of Bast-as-a-housecat. Images of Bast as a lion-headed figure holding a was-scepter (from the Hall of Osorkon at Bubastis [4]) or with a lion's mane and holding the Eye of Ra [5] can be found throughout Egyptian art from the Late Period on. Bast is even shown in one particular Late Period depiction wearing the Double Crown (the red and the white "nested" together) and suckling the Pharaoh [6]--perhaps an allusion to Per-Bast (Bubastis)'s political rise during that period.

Additionally, there is no reason to believe that the lion device on the aegis wielded by the cat-headed Bast is not in fact a second representation of Her (a concept not unknown to ancient Egyptian art and symbology).

Bast is often shown holding the ankh or the papyrus wand, and sometimes the was-scepter (usually only in connection to Bubastis, which was the home of Her cult).


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


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