Bastet in her late form of a cat-headed woman, rather than a lioness
|Name in hieroglyphs|
|Major cult center||Bubastis|
|Symbol||lioness, cat, ointment jar, sistrum, solar disk|
|Parents||Ra and Isis|
|Siblings||Horus and Anhur (half-brothers)|
Bastet or Bast (Ancient Egyptian : bꜣstjt "She of the Ointment Jar", Coptic : Ⲟⲩⲃⲁⲥⲧⲉ /ubaste/) was a goddess of ancient Egyptian religion, worshiped as early as the Second Dynasty (2890 BCE). Her name also is rendered as B'sst, Baast, Ubaste, and Baset. In ancient Greek religion, she was known as Ailuros (Koinē Greek : αἴλουρος "cat").
Bastet was worshiped in Bubastis in Lower Egypt, originally as a lioness goddess, a role shared by other deities such as Sekhmet. Eventually Bastet and Sekhmet were characterized as two aspects of the same goddess, with Sekhmet representing the powerful warrior and protector aspect and Bastet, who increasingly was depicted as a cat, representing a gentler aspect.
Bastet, the form of the name that is most commonly adopted by Egyptologists today because of its use in later dynasties, is a modern convention offering one possible reconstruction. In early Egyptian, her name appears to have been bꜣstt. In Egyptian writing, the second t marks a feminine ending but usually was not pronounced, and the aleph ꜣ (
What the name of the goddess means remains uncertain.Names of ancient Egyptian deities often were represented as references to associations or with euphemisms, being cult secrets. One recent suggestion by Stephen Quirke (Ancient Egyptian Religion) explains Bastet as meaning, "She of the ointment jar". This ties in with the observation that her name was written with the hieroglyph for ointment jar (bꜣs) and that she was associated with protective ointments, among other things. The name of the material known as alabaster might, through Greek, come from the name of the goddess. This association would have come about much later than when the goddess was a protective lioness goddess, however, and is useful only in deciphering the origin of the term, alabaster.
Bastet was originally a fierce lioness warrior goddess of the sun worshiped throughout most of ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess that is familiar today, becoming Bastet.She then was depicted as the daughter of Ra and Isis, and the consort of Ptah, with whom she had a son Maahes.
As protector of Lower Egypt, she was seen as defender of the king, and consequently of the sun god, Ra. Along with other deities such as Hathor, Sekhmet, and Isis, Bastet was associated with the Eye of Ra.She has been depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra. In addition to her solar connections, sometimes she was called "eye of the moon".
Bastet was also a goddess of pregnancy and childbirth, possibly because of the fertility of the domestic cat.
Images of Bastet were often created from alabaster. The goddess was sometimes depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and an aegis in the other—the aegis usually resembling a collar or gorget, embellished with a lioness head.
Bastet was also depicted as the goddess of protection against contagious diseases and evil spirits.
Bastet was a local deity whose religious sect was centered in the city that became named, Bubastis. It lay in the Nile Delta near what is known today as Zagazig.The town, known in Egyptian as pr-bꜣstt (also transliterated as Per-Bastet), carries her name, literally meaning House of Bastet. It was known in Greek as Boubastis (Βούβαστις) and translated into Hebrew as Pî-beset, spelled without the initial t sound of the last syllable. In the biblical Book of Ezekiel 30:17, the town appears in the Hebrew form Pibeseth.
Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian who traveled in Egypt in the fifth century BCE, describes Bastet's temple at some length:
Save for the entrance, it stands on an island; two separate channels approach it from the Nile, and after coming up to the entry of the temple, they run round it on opposite sides; each of them a hundred feet wide, and overshadowed by trees. The temple is in the midst of the city, the whole circuit of which commands a view down into it; for the city's level has been raised, but that of the temple has been left as it was from the first, so that it can be seen into from without. A stone wall, carven with figures, runs round it; within is a grove of very tall trees growing round a great shrine, wherein is the image of the goddess; the temple is a square, each side measuring a furlong. A road, paved with stone, of about three furlongs' length leads to the entrance, running eastward through the market place, towards the temple of Hermes; this road is about 400 feet wide, and bordered by trees reaching to heaven.
This description by Herodotus and several Egyptian texts suggest that water surrounded the temple on three (out of four) sides, forming a type of lake known as, isheru, not too dissimilar from that surrounding the temple of the mother goddess Mut in Karnak at Thebes.These lakes were typical components of temples devoted to a number of lioness goddesses, who are said to represent one original goddess, Bastet, Mut, Tefnut, Hathor, and Sakhmet, and came to be associated with sun gods such as Horus and Ra as well as the Eye of Ra. Each of them had to be appeased by a specific set of rituals. One myth relates that a lioness, fiery and wrathful, was once cooled down by the water of the lake, transformed into a gentle cat, and settled in the temple.
At the Bubastis temple, some cats were found to have been mummified and buried, many next to their owners. More than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when Bastet's temple was excavated. Turner and Bateson suggest that the status of the cat was roughly equivalent to that of the cow in modern India. The death of a cat might leave a family in great mourning and those who could, would have them embalmed or buried in cat cemeteries—pointing to the great prevalence of the cult of Bastet. Extensive burials of cat remains were found not only at Bubastis, but also at Beni Hasan and Saqqara. In 1888, a farmer uncovered a burial site of many hundreds of thousands of cats in Beni Hasan.
Herodotus also relates that of the many solemn festivals held in Egypt, the most important and most popular one was that celebrated in Bubastis in honor of this goddess. 1380 BC) of Nefer-ka, the wab-priest of Sekhmet, provides written evidence for this. The inscription suggests that the king, Amenhotep III, was present at the event and had great offerings made to the deity.Each year on the day of her festival, the town was said to have attracted some 700,000 visitors, both men and women (but not children), who arrived in numerous crowded ships. The women engaged in music, song, and dance on their way to the place. Great sacrifices were made and prodigious amounts of wine were drunk—more than was the case throughout the year. This accords well with Egyptian sources that prescribe that lioness goddesses are to be appeased with the "feasts of drunkenness". A festival of Bastet was known to be celebrated during the New Kingdom at Bubastis. The block statue from the eighteenth dynasty (c.
Bastet first appears in the third millennium BC, where she is depicted as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness.Two thousand years later, during the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1070–712 BC), Bastet began to be depicted as a domestic cat or a cat-headed woman.
Scribes of the New Kingdom and later eras began referring to her with an additional feminine suffix, as Bastet. The name change is thought to have been added to emphasize pronunciation of the ending t sound, often left silent.
Cats in ancient Egypt were highly revered, partly due to their ability to combat vermin such as mice, rats (which threatened key food supplies), and snakes—especially cobras. Cats of royalty were, in some instances, known to be dressed in golden jewelry and were allowed to eat from the plates of their owners. Turner and Bateson estimate that during the Twenty-second Dynasty (c. 945–715 BC), Bastet worship changed from being a lioness deity into being predominantly a major cat deity. Because domestic cats tend to be tender and protective of their offspring, Bastet was also regarded as a good mother and sometimes was depicted with numerous kittens.
The native Egyptian rulers were replaced by Greeks during an occupation of Ancient Egypt in the Ptolemaic Dynasty that lasted almost 300 years. The Greeks sometimes equated Bastet with one of their goddesses, Artemis.
Zagazig is a city in Lower Egypt. Situated in the eastern part of the Nile delta, it is the capital of the governorate of Sharqia.
Mut, also known as Maut and Mout, was a mother goddess worshipped in ancient Egypt. Her name literally means mother in the ancient Egyptian language. Mut had many different aspects and attributes that changed and evolved a lot over the thousands of years of ancient Egyptian culture.
In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet, also spelled Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Sakhet, among other spellings), is a warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Upon death, Sekhmet continued to protect them, bearing them to the afterlife.
Nefertem was, in Egyptian mythology, originally a lotus flower at the creation of the world, who had arisen from the primal waters. Nefertem represented both the first sunlight and the delightful smell of the Egyptian blue lotus flower, having arisen from the primal waters within an Egyptian blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea. Some of the titles of Nefertem were "He Who is Beautiful" and "Water-Lily of the Sun", and a version of the Book of the Dead says:
Rise like Nefertem from the blue water lily, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day.
Maahes was an ancient Egyptian lion-headed god of war, whose name means "he who is true beside her". He was seen as the son of the Creator god Ptah, as well as the feline goddess whose nature he shared. Maahes was a deity associated with war, protection, and weather, as well as that of knives, lotuses, and devouring captives. His cult was centred in Taremu and Per-Bast, the cult centres of Sekhmet and Bast respectively.
Menhit was originally a Nubian war goddess in Egyptian mythology. Her name depicts a warrior status, as it means (she who) massacres.
Anuket was the ancient Egyptian goddess of the cataracts of the Nile and Lower Nubia in general, worshipped especially at Elephantine near the First Cataract.
Bubastis, also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or in Egyptian as Per-Bast, was an Ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis is often identified with the biblical Pi-Beseth. It was the capital of its own nome, located along the River Nile in the Delta region of Lower Egypt, and notable as a center of worship for the feline goddess Bastet, and therefore the principal depository in Egypt of mummies of cats.
The Eye of Ra or Eye of Re is a being in ancient Egyptian mythology that functions as a feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues his enemies. The Eye is an extension of Ra's power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet, Wadjet, and Mut. The Eye goddess acts as mother, sibling, consort, and daughter of the sun god. She is his partner in the creative cycle in which he begets the renewed form of himself that is born at dawn. The Eye's violent aspect defends Ra against the agents of disorder that threaten his rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal authority. The Eye of Ra is similar to the Eye of Horus, which belongs to a different god, Horus, but represents many of the same concepts. The disastrous effects when the Eye goddess rampages out of control and the efforts of the gods to return her to a benign state are a prominent motif in Egyptian mythology.
In Egyptian mythology, Pakhet, Egyptian Pḫ.t, meaning she who scratches is a lioness goddess of war.
Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of Ancient Egypt for more than 30 centuries. Several Ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat.
Iusaaset or Iusaas is a primordial goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion. In Egyptian texts, she is described as "the grandmother of all of the deities". This allusion is without any reference to a grandfather, so there might have been a very early, but now lost, myth with parthenogenesis as the means of the birth of the deities from the region where her cult arose near the delta of the Nile. There are many alternative spellings of her name, including Iusaaset, Iusaas, Juesaes, Ausaas, and Jusas, as well as in Greek Saosis.
Werethekau was an Ancient Egyptian deity. She served as the personification of supernatural powers.
In Ancient Egyptian texts, the "Two Ladies" was a religious euphemism for the goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, two deities who were patrons of the Ancient Egyptians and worshiped by all after the unification of its two parts, Lower Egypt, and Upper Egypt. When the two parts of Egypt were joined together, there was no merger of these deities as often occurred with similar deities from various regions and cities. Both goddesses were retained because of the importance of their roles and they became known as the Two Ladies, who were the protectors of unified Egypt.
Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld. He was the god of the sun, order, kings, and the sky.
Tutu was an Egyptian god worshipped by ordinary people all over Egypt during the Late Period. The only known temple dedicated to Tutu is located in ancient Kellis. However, reliefs depicting Tutu are seen in other temples, such as the Temple of Kalabsha. Tutu's title at the Shenhur temple was "Who comes to the one calling him". Other titles of his are "Son of Neith," "the Lion," "Great of Strength", and "Master of the demons of Sekhmet and the wandering demons of Bastet".
Ancient Egyptian deities that have appeared in popular culture include Set, Thoth, Khonsu, Ra and Horus.
Shesmetet(šsm.t.t) is an ancient Egyptian goddess. She was mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and was usually referred to as the deceased's mother. She was depicted as a lion or a woman with a lion's head, and thus was sometimes considered a form of Sekhmet or Bastet, but one of her epithets – "Lady of Punt" – differentiates her from them and may refer to a possible African origin. Her name comes from shesmet, a sash decorated with beads, which appears on the depictions of Old Kingdom rulers and the god Sopdu.