Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 30th Dynasty, ca. 380 to 343 BCE. A beautiful, mold-formed faience pendant of Bastet, the cat goddess whose cult was centered on Bubastis on the Nile River Delta. The goddess of cats, Bastet is displayed in a striding pose while wearing an ankle-length sheath dress, holding both arms gracefully at her sides, and posing with her leonine mane draped atop the lappets of her tripartite wig, all enveloped in sage green glaze. Her protruding visage exhibits almond-shaped eyes, a powerful snout with a petite nose, a slit-form mouth, and a gently plateaued brow surmounted by a royal uraeus cobra; a perforated suspension loop is situated behind the uraeus. A column of inscribed hieroglyphs down the dorsal column reads, "Words said by . . . Bast(et), may she grant life." Size: 1.125" W x 3" H (2.9 cm x 7.6 cm)
Bastet was initially a lioness goddess associated with the solar god and channeled its destructive power. However, by the early first millennium BCE, she assumed a more domestic feline form and became understood as a goddess of fertility and a guardian of the home. Ever since, statuettes comprised of various materials have characterized her as a doting mother cat. Her cult expanded decisively when her town in Bubastis (derived from per Bastet or "house of Bastet"), became the royal residence of the kings of the 22nd Dynasty, during the 10th century BCE. The city hosted an annual festival honoring Bastet in celebration of the Nile flood waters, and she was honored throughout Egypt through the first millennium BCE.
Provenance: private Toronto, Ontario, Canada collection, by descent, acquired in Egypt in 1894 to 1896
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Minor nicks and abrasions to plinth, body, and head, with fading to glaze pigment in scattered areas, and light encrustations within some recessed areas, otherwise intact and excellent. Figure has a slight forward lean formed during the molding process. Old remains of soldering material beneath plinth from old display mounting. Great preservation to finer details along obverse as well as inscribed hieroglyphs along dorsal pillar.