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Bastet, protector of kings

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posted on Apr, 16 2017 @ 11:45 AM
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So I'm doing a paper (homework) on three bronze votive figurines of Bastet (such as this extraordinary one at the New York Metropolitan Museum) and in running through various references, including Routledge's Egyptian Deities, I come across this statement:



A magnificent example of precise engineering in the Old Kingdom, namely the valley temple of King Khafra at Giza, carries on its façade the names of two goddesses only – HATHOR of Southern Egypt and Bastet of Northen Egypt. The goddess is invoked as a benign royal protectress in the Pyramid Texts where, in a spell to enable him to reach the sky, the king proclaims that his mother and nurse is Bastet.

Hart, George. The Routledge dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses. Psychology Press, 2005, page 46


This, of course, distracts me from the paper (Khafre? Builder of the second pyramid at Giza? Talking about Bastet in his temple??) and I wander off to see what I can find out about Khafre's Temple because I'm a crazy cat lady at heart. BTW, it's Khafre's pyramid that the Great Sphinx sits in front of.

So what about the Valley Temple?

In contrast to what many pages about the pyramids would have you believe, Giza plateau is FULL of temples, walls, and monuments as well as the remains of the workers' city and quays where material for each pyramid arrived. A lot of red and black granite was used at this site. In the time of the Old Kingdom, it must have been a marvelous place, full of color and vegetation and brightly polished and painted statues and temples.

Each of the three pyramids had a separate wall around it and each has its own Valley Temple, which functioned as the main entrance to the grounds of that pyramid. Inside these walls (around the pyramid) are a "cult pyramid", a "mortuary temple" with a causeway that leads to the Valley Temple, and royal cemeteries for immediate family members and favored servants.

From the TourEgypt page:


The temple was laid out in almost a square ground plan. It is situated just next to the Great Sphinx and its associated temple. Not surprisingly, since the valley temple was a gateway or portal to the whole complex, it is very similar to the fore part of Khafre's mortuary temple. Its core wall was built of huge blocks that sometimes weighed as much as one hundred and fifty tons. This inner core was then covered by pink granite slabs, a material used extensively throughout the complex that was quarried near Aswan far to the south. This wall was slightly inclined and rounded at the top, making the whole structure appear somewhat like a mastaba tomb.


You can see pictures of it... and yes, the northern doorway has the king's name and the name of Bastet inscribed there, according to sources. Can't find a picture of it, but I'm sure it's around somewhere.

Bastet is not in all of the Pyramid Texts (there are over 10 known ones now, and each one is unique. The "pyramid text" books that you may have seen are a combination of ALL the pyramid texts plus some of the Coffin Texts.) She first appears in the pyramid texts of Pepi I (the third king to have something written inside his pyramid) and in those of Merenre (who follows him) but not elsewhere.

So - in addition to being the Eye of Re (bringer of justice) and the Lady of Perfumes and the Sex Kitten of Egypt (yeah, really. Ptolemaic times were weird), she was also one of the early protectors of the king and important enough to be one of the two main deities at the entrance of the second pyramid.


TourEgypt's page on the pyramid and temple

One page with some interesting detail

Met Museum's got a lot of Bastet things

You can also browse the Petrie Museum's collection




posted on Apr, 16 2017 @ 02:07 PM
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If it is a paper you may also need to make sure that you explain the differences in terms of names and sometimes appearances between Bastes and Bast; both the name but in different periods.



posted on Apr, 16 2017 @ 02:08 PM
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a reply to: Byrd

khafre had bastet in his temple? hmm makes sense



posted on Apr, 16 2017 @ 02:46 PM
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When I was about 10 I was given an academic "reward" scholarship and chose to go from Memphis Tn to Norman OK to study Egyptology under Prof Phipps. At the end of the course we got to go to Egypt.. and though Anubis was my favorite, I did see some amazing Bastet statuary and depictions... and the beauty of the mummified cats really made an impression on me. Sort of South of Tanis is a place called Bubastis in Lower Egypt.. like the center or capital of Bastet worship. Herodotus gives us a good description of what it looked like and where the oracle of Bastet is/was located :


Temples there are more spacious and costlier than that of Bubastis, but none so pleasant to behold. It is after the following fashion. Except at the entrance, it is surrounded by water: for two canals branch off from the river, and run as far as the entrance to the temple: yet neither canal mingles with the other, but one runs on this side, and the other on that. Each canal is a hundred feet wide, and its banks are lined with trees. The propylaea are sixty feet in height, and are adorned with sculptures (probably intaglios in relief) nine feet high, and of excellent workmanship. The Temple being in the middle of the city is looked down upon from all sides as you walk around; and this comes from the city having been raised, whereas the temple itself has not been moved, but remains in its original place. Quite round the temple there goes a wall, adorned with sculptures. Within the inclosure is a grove of fair tall trees, planted around a large building in which is the effigy (of Bast). The form of that temple is square, each side being a stadium in length. In a line with the entrance is a road built of stone about three stadia long, leading eastwards through the public market. The road is about 400 feet (120 m) broad, and is flanked by exceeding tall trees. It leads to the temple of Hermes



Barges and river craft of every description, filled with men and women, floated leisurely down the Nile. The men played on pipes of lotus. the women on cymbals and tambourines, and such as had no instruments accompanied the music with clapping of hands and dances, and other joyous gestures. Thus did they while on the river: but when they came to a town on its banks, the barges were made fast, and the pilgrims disembarked, and the women sang, playfully mocked the women of that town and threw their clothes over their head. When they reached Bubastis, then held they a wondrously solemn feast: and more wine of the grape was drank in those days than in all the rest of the year. Such was the manner of this festival: and, it is said, that as many as seven hundred thousand pilgrims have been known to celebrate the Feast of Bast at the same time


Look for some info Shafik Farid might have online.. he was the discoverer of certain things in Bubastis and look into the Decree of Canopus.. I cant recall who discovered that.Youll find a lot more on Bast/Bastet if you look into her worship BEFORE Greek influence. There is also a temple of Bastet in Alexandria... and is a post Greek influence temple. If it were me writing a paper I would rely very heavily on the pre Greek influence information and depictions. If I can actually remember other things Ill post it in here, but dont hold your breath.

edit on 16-4-2017 by Advantage because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2017 @ 06:16 AM
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Nice post Byrd!


Advantage: I'm glad you added that bit. The Greeks indeed heavily Influenced Culture during it's Reign.



posted on Apr, 17 2017 @ 10:03 AM
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originally posted by: Neith
Nice post Byrd!


Advantage: I'm glad you added that bit. The Greeks indeed heavily Influenced Culture during it's Reign.


Indeed. The three votive statues that I'm looking at date to the late New Kingdom/Ptolemaic period - but when you do a long research paper you also have to discuss the origin. Her iconography goes through a number of changes in 3,000 years and a lot of times we're not sure if a feline is Bastet or one of several other feline deities. Luckily, there's a few common signs that a humanoid figure is Bastet (she carries a basket of kittens, holds a sistrum (rattle) or carries an aegis (a symbol that adorned the top of a staff) of another deity, or has a striped dress.

There's a charming legend about a feline goddess (sometimes identified as Bastet) who gets disgusted with everyone and runs off to the desert. Thoth goes to bring her back, and she comes back a milder, and more even-tempered deity... perhaps an echo of the time when she changed from being the lioness to being the cat.

Although we think of her as the black cat with jewelry, to the Egyptians she was a golden tabby... it's thought that the tabby stripes are reflected in the pattern of the cloth dress she wears (which has stripes and in several statues is either painted or of a slightly different material to emphasize color.)
edit on 17-4-2017 by Byrd because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 17 2017 @ 02:17 PM
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originally posted by: Byrd

originally posted by: Neith
Nice post Byrd!


Advantage: I'm glad you added that bit. The Greeks indeed heavily Influenced Culture during it's Reign.


Indeed. The three votive statues that I'm looking at date to the late New Kingdom/Ptolemaic period - but when you do a long research paper you also have to discuss the origin. Her iconography goes through a number of changes in 3,000 years and a lot of times we're not sure if a feline is Bastet or one of several other feline deities. Luckily, there's a few common signs that a humanoid figure is Bastet (she carries a basket of kittens, holds a sistrum (rattle) or carries an aegis (a symbol that adorned the top of a staff) of another deity, or has a striped dress.

There's a charming legend about a feline goddess (sometimes identified as Bastet) who gets disgusted with everyone and runs off to the desert. Thoth goes to bring her back, and she comes back a milder, and more even-tempered deity... perhaps an echo of the time when she changed from being the lioness to being the cat.

Although we think of her as the black cat with jewelry, to the Egyptians she was a golden tabby... it's thought that the tabby stripes are reflected in the pattern of the cloth dress she wears (which has stripes and in several statues is either painted or of a slightly different material to emphasize color.)


Her story is most interesting and I'm glad you included this part of it. It's been a while since reading of it, I wasn't familiar with the tabby /stripes, and makes complete sense in light of the changes she's endured over time, how and when, and how she evolved into what we see now.

Excellent information




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