Statuette of standing cat, Bastet - ROM2018_16121_65


Statuette of standing cat, Bastet

Medium:Bronze, cast
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
7.2 cm
Object number: 933.4.5
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

During the Old Kingdom, Bastet was imagined as a fierce lioness, a war goddess who nursed the king. Her character and iconography changed over time so that the domestic cat became her sacred animal, and in the Middle Kingdom the goddess was depicted as a woman with the head of a cat.  Along with this change in her appearance, she became more gentle and friendly. The cat’s motherly qualities became prominent in her make-up and she helped women in pregnancy and guarded the newborn.  She can be shown in feline form, nursing her kittens, or as a cat-headed woman with kittens at her feet and sometimes on her shoulders. 

Our Bastet is a cat-headed woman dressed in a patterned sheath who carries a musical instrument, the sistrum in her right hand, and an aegis, a sort of magically protective shield, in her left. The purse-like object she carries over her left arm appears here as a small basket, though in other images it is often a situla, a small jug of sacred milk to be used as an offering in the temple.

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