Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Bastet ( or Bast )
Bastet first appears in the 3rd millennium BC, where she is depicted as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness. Images of Bast were often created from a local stone, named alabaster today. The lioness was the fiercest hunter among the animals in Africa, hunting in co-operative groups of related females.
Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra, who was also a solar deity, gaining her the titles Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra.
Her role in the Egyptian pantheon became diminished as Sekhmet, a similar lioness war deity, became more dominant in the unified culture of Lower and Upper Egypt known as the Two Lands.
In the first millennium BC, when domesticated cats were popularly kept as pets, Bastet began to be represented as a woman with the head of a cat. In the 2nd millennium, domestic cats appeared as Bastet's sacred animal. After the 11th century BCE, Bast was commonly depicted as a woman with the head of a cat or lioness, often carrying a sistrum (sacred rattle) and an aegis. When the Greeks started to settle in Egypt, around the 5th century BCE, Bastet started to gain some of the characteristics of Artemis, such as transitioning from a sun goddess to a moon goddess.