Figure of the goddess Bastet

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A bronze votive sculpture made with the lost-wax technique. The figure represents the goddess Bastet in her animal form, as a cat. The feline is resting on her haunches, her tail circling the right back leg and with the front legs standing straight upright. The head is held erect with the gaze to the front and the ears pricked up. The pose is one of expectation and vigilance of what is happening in the vicinity.

The animal would normally be on a flat rectangular base of the same material, although the base could also have been made from wood. A bronze peg can be seen under the figure which would have been used to hold the feline in place on a base.

Baset or Bast was the goddess protector of the home and of the joy of living. She was considered the deity of harmony and happiness. She was equivalent to the Greek goddess Artemis and was represented as a domestic cat or as a woman with the head of a cat. She carried a sistrum to indicate her love of music.

She was considered to be the personification of the warming rays of the sun, as well as the incarnation of the peaceful aspects of gods such as Sekhmet, who represented the evil qualities of the sun. As the eye of Atum (creator and solar god) she was associated with the moon and protected births and pregnant women. At the same time, from the time of the Late Period she was considered mother of the pharaoh, whom she helped and protected so that he could reach the heavens. Her cult had one of its important centres in the city Bubastis, where hundreds of mummified cats have been found.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out through expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To release the final piece the mould must be removed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

- BLEIBERG, E. Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. Brooklyn Museum. 2013.
- MALEK, J. The Cat in Ancient Egypt. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1997.

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