Bast - Bastet Picture

The third in my series of modern interpretations of Netjeru series features Bast (sometimes spelled Bastet although that spelling isn't quite accurate). She has probably been the most difficult Deity for me to illustrate so far as I have not been able to find a great deal of solid information about Her (and much of the existing information is conflicting) and also because I'm really not that well acquainted with Her personally. She seems to be rather multi-faceted. I hope I have done Her some sort of justice.

In trying to represent Her, I was somewhat torn between the two personages She developed over time. The more popular personage was shaped not only by traditional Egyptian perceptions of Her but by Greek thought and perspective (for instance Her association with the moon derives from the Greeks equating Her with Artemis), and She has also gained some strange associations in more modern times (e.g. some like to claim She is a Goddess of marijuana and lesbians, which is not supported by any actual academic research). The other personage, which is older and likely more true to form, is less acknowledged. In keeping with the theme of my series based on Kemetic Deities, I have chosen to lean towards the more ancient personage.

Bast is well-known for Her association with domestic cats, but it seems to be less recognized that before the house cat came along, She was associated with lions and other decidedly non-domesticated felines, hence the leopard pattern on Her headband and the tiger pattern in the backdrop. Her facial piercings, particularly Her septum ring, are derived directly from ancient sculptures of Bast in cat form. Although She is often presumed to have the temperment of a typical cuddly, modern house cat, in ancient times She was an instrument of divine vengeance and retribution much like Sekhmet with whom She is inaccurately contrasted. In one text, Amenhotep II's skill at destroying enemies in battle is compared to Bast's own penchant for slaughter. In this image I hoped to show Bast as a woman who initially appears sweet but upon closer inspection reveals a creature capable of some serious damage. Later in Egyptian history though Her ferocity seems to have become somewhat quenched and She gains associations with Hathor. One attribute Bast and Hathor share is the sistrum, a type of hand-held metal percussion instrument. Another famous statue shows Bast in cat-headed form holding a sistrum and a necklace, protectively standing by a group of kittens. The shape of the sistrum is deliberatly similar to the shape of the upper part of the guitar in this illustration. Her earlier, more ferocious form is evoked by Her environment, which is either on the stage of a show featuring some S&M theatrics or at a BDSM club of some sort, as well as her body modifications and clothing, while her later form is evoked by Her seemingly placid role as a musician.

Other images in this series:

Size: approximately 8.25" x 10.5" (some was cropped off at the top)
Medium: Prismacolor colored pencils, pen and ink, acrylic, watercolor
Continue Reading: Moon