Bast: Cult Centers in Ancient Egypt

Bast's sacred city in Kemet was Per-Bast (Greek: Bubastis; modern-day Tell Basta, near Zagazig in Northern (Lower) Egypt [8]). Per-Bast translates into "the Domain of Bast" and has been excavated numerous times since Edourard Naville first broke ground there in 1887. Details on Naville's excavation can be found in a set of extremely rare books entitled Bubastis, 1887-1889 and The Festival Hall of Osorkon II in the Great Temple of Bubastis, 1887-1889 by Edouard Naville. Both of these books have long been out of print, and are now outdated by the more recent (mid-1970s) excavation information put forth by the late Dr. Labib Habachi in his book, Tell-Basta (also out of print and difficult to acquire). Finds dating from all periods of Kemetic history have been made at the Tell-Basta site; a current mission recently unearthed war-offerings and other materials dating from King Ahmose of the 18th Dynasty.

Other cities where Bast was venerated (with approximate time of establishment of cult when possible) were:

  • Memphis (Old Kingdom), where She was associated strongly with Sekhmet (the lion-headed visage Het-hert takes on when She becomes the Eye of Ra).
  • Heliopolis (Old Kingdom), where She was the "Daughter of Tem" via a possible connection to Tefnut.
  • Herakleopolis (???), in a city called the "Hill of Bast".
  • Eastern Delta (???), "Ba-ir-Ra-st on the Waters of Ra".
  • Denderah (???), via Her connection to Het-hert. Denderah is referred to in some cases as the "Southern Bubastis"--an important implication as it would mean that the worship of Bast from early on was country-wide and not regional. [9]
  • The Precinct of Mut in Thebes (New Kingdom), via Her connection to Mut.
  • Sais (Late Period), the city of Nit, where a statue of Bast existed.
  • Leontopolis (???), the city of Shu and Tefnut, at "'Ihy.n.B3s.t".

Cities in which festivals of Bast were celebrated included Thebes, Memphis, Bubastis, and Esna. [10] It should be noted that contrary to some modern-day claims, there was no festival of Sekhmet-Bast-Ra to coincide with the modern-day Halloween.

Today, no shrines or temples remain of Bast in Egypt; even Bubastis was mostly ruins by the time Naville got around to it. There is a "Portal of Bast" on the Giza Plateau (fittingly, near the Sphinx), and statues have been discovered showing Khaefre accompanied by Her. A painting of Bast is present within the tomb of Nefertari at Abu Simbel, and dozens of bronze statues dating from the Late Period have been discovered in the cat cemetery found at Per-Bast. A Bast shrine on display is located in the Field Museum of Chicago; benches flank a small enclosure within which stands a statue of the seated cat and the cat-headed woman (both behind glass). [11]


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
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