Post by Senbecc on Jan 30, 2007 4:50:16 GMT -5
Bast (Ubasti; G/R Bastet, Bubastis) - "Devouring Lady" (from bas, to devour, with feminine ending); One of the earliest-documented Names with an appearance in Dynasty II, Bast is first and foremost a protectress; specifically of the royal house and the Two Lands. During Dynasty IV, She was a patron-Name of Lower Kemet, paired with Hethert as a patron-Name of Upper Kemet, as Wadjet and Nekhbet are often depicted in later times; the Valley Temple of the Pyramid of Khafra at modern-day Giza next to the Sphinx had a "Portal of Bast" as well as statues of Bast in the company of the king. Over time, Bast's image metamorphosed to become more similar to that of Hethert; eventually, into the Greek period, She would be equated with the virgin huntress Artemis and considered the protectress of children and pregnant mothers, musicians and a goddess of all sorts of excess, especially sexual excess. However, Bast's original visage did not include the "cat as sex symbol" archetype. (Incidentally, it is also from the Greeks that the erroneous belief in Bast as a daughter of Aset and Wesir derives; Bast as Artemis had to have a twin brother, Apollo (equated with Heru-sa-Aset by the Greeks).) A play on words in Bast's name resulted in Her being equated in Greco-Roman times with the "soul of Isis" (ba-Aset), probably in keeping with Aset's gradual syncretism into the Roman Isis of Ten Thousand Names.
Egyptian cat goddess. A goddess of the home and of the domestic cat, although she sometimes took on the war-like aspect of a lioness. Daughter of the sun god Re, although sometimes regarded as the daughter of Amun. Wife of Ptah and mother of the lion-god Mihos. Her cult was centered on her sanctuary at Bubastis in the delta region, where a necropolis has been found containing mummified cats. Bast was also associated with the 'eye of Re', acting as the instrument of the sun god's vengeance. She was depicted as a cat or in human form with the head of a cat, often holding the sacred rattle known as the sistrum.
The word "Bastet" is the most common mistranslation of Her name. Toward the beginning of the New Kingdom, the "-t" at the end of words began to vanish from the spoken language due to foreign influences. In an attempt to preserve the pronunciation of some of the words, scribes added an additional -t to stress that it should be pronounced. This is where we get the "double loafs" that spell out "Bastet". This was the scribes' way of telling the reader to pronounce the word as "Bast", and not "Bas", and it should not be taken to mean that Her name is pronounced "Bastet".
When dealing with something as enduring as Bast, it's easy to forget just how old She really is. Since She has been dated to at least the Second Dynasty (c. 2890-2686 Before Common Era [B.C.E.]), this means She predates the following events:
The founding of America.
The Industrial and French Revolution.
The European Crusades.
The Dark and Feudal Ages of all the major world cultures.
Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah.
The Roman Empire's fall.
Christ and the Apostles.
The Roman Empire's rise.
Alexander the Great.
The Trojan War.
Lao-tzu, Confucius, and Buddha.
Ramses, Tutankhamen, Akhenaten, Thutmose III, and Hatshepsut.
The building of the Pyramids, Khaefra (Cheops), Senefru.
If you sit back and think about it, this means She has existed--in name--just under five millennia.
That's a long time.
Bast's sacred city in Kemet was Per-Bast (Greek: Bubastis; modern-day Tell Basta, near Zagazig in Northern (Lower) Egypt ). 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. 
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.  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).