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Bast was originally a fierce lioness warrior goddess of the sun throughout most of ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess that is familiar today, becoming Bastet. Even later, Greeks occupying ancient Egypt toward the end of its civilization changed her into a goddess of the moon.

As protector of Lower Egypt, Bast, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra. Along with the other lioness goddesses, she would occasionally be depicted as the embodiment of the Eye of Ra. She has been depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra.

Images of Bastet were often created from alabaster. The goddess was sometimes depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and an aegis in the other—the aegis usually resembling a collar or gorget embellished with a lioness head.

Her name became associated with the lavish jars in which Egyptians stored their ointment used as perfume. Bastet thus gradually became regarded as the goddess of perfumes, earning the title of Perfumed Protector. In connection with this, when Anubis became the god of embalming, Bastet came to be regarded as his wife for a short period of time. Bastet was also depicted as the goddess of protection against contagious diseases and evil spirits.

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