Bat

Bat’s name combines the common Egyptian theological term ba, ‘soul’ or ‘manifestation’, with the feminine suffix; hence her name means something akin to ‘feminine potency’ or ‘the ensouled one’, or perhaps, in more conceptual terms, the power of manifestation itself. Bat is depicted frontally and only from the neck up, with a human face, bovine ears and horns. Sometimes her head is surmounted by a configuration of five stars, one at the tip of each horn, one atop the forehead, and one at the tip of each ear. Generally Bat’s image forms a pendant, the top of a column, an ornamental frieze, or, somewhat later, the top of a sistrum. The bat-sistrum becomes especially popular in the cult of Hathor, largely replacing an earlier, plainer form of sistrum, and Bat’s cult center in the seventh nome or district of Upper Egypt comes to be known as ‘Mansion of the Sistrum’. Bat’s frontal, semi-bovine depiction as well as the bat-sistrum are increasingly seen as attributes of Hathor in the Middle Kingdom and thereafter, leading to Hathor’s assimilation of Bat’s nature. A Bat pendant is part of the regalia of a class of official in the Old Kingdom known as ‘director of the palace’, such officials sometimes given the title hqa-bat, ‘bat-governor’ (Fischer, 12f).

Bat is mentioned in PT utterance 506, the deceased king affirming “I am Bat with her two faces,” referring perhaps to Bat’s visage on some portable object, such as that seen on the famous Narmer Palette, from the Early Dynastic period (c. 3000 BCE), where the king is depicted wearing an item on his belt on which Bat appears to be depicted, while an image of Bat adorns the top of the palette itself. “I am one who is saved,” the utterance continues, “and I have saved myself from all things evil.” Later in the same utterance, the king affirms that he is “a living soul … who saved himself and removed himself from those who disturb Her-who-does-what-has-to-be-done when She-who-does-what-has-to-be-done, and who commands what-has-to-be-commanded, is at rest.” This string of female identities may refer to Bat, who is the only Goddess named in the utterance. CT spell 334, for “becoming Ihy,” the sistrum-playing son of Hathor, characterizes the pre-cosmic period in which the operator identifying with Ihy came into being as that “before the face of Bat was knit on.” CT spell 411, for remembering one’s name in the netherworld, invokes Bat: “O Bat, my name is ‘Isis in the sealed place’; I am in my name and my name is a God; I will not forget it, this name of mine.”

Fischer, Henry G. “The Cult and Nome of the Goddess Bat.” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 1, 1962 (pp. 7-18) & 2, 1963 (pp. 50-51).

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One Response to “Bat”

  1. […] is known about Bat, because many of her aspects were  credited to Hethert. Her name consists of “Ba” (the […]

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