Menat of Taharqo: the King Being Nursed by the Lion-Headed Goddess Bastet

Period: Late Period, Kushite

Dynasty: Dynasty 25

Reign: reign of Taharqo

Date: 690–664 B.C.

Geography: Possibly from Nubia; From Egypt and Sudan

Medium: Faience

Dimensions: h. 9.5 cm (3 3/4 in); w. 4.4 cm (1 3/4 in); th. 0.8 cm (5/16 in)

Credit Line: Bequest of W. Gedney Beatty, 1941

Accession Number: 41.160.104


Taharqo, son of Piye, who succeeded his younger brother Shebitqo, was raised in Nubia but established his capital at Memphis and began an extensive program of temple restoration throughout Egypt and Nubia. Capitalizing on the weakness of the Assyrian empire during the reign of Sennacherib, he made military incursions into the Levant and Libya. Unfortunately, during the reign of Esarhaddon, the Assyrian army descended on the Delta, driving Taharqo from Memphis back to Napata, the Kushite capital of Nubia, where he died.

This faience menat represents part of a heavy necklace carried in ritual scenes associated with the great female goddesses, although, given the material, it was itself probably created as a votive offering rather than for actual use. It shows the king being suckled by the lion-headed goddess Bastet. Below is a Horus falcon wearing the double crown of Egypt, which represents the king and is flanked by the vulture and uraeus, symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt. Such an object might have been offered at the temples of the great female goddesses or at the mammisi temples celebrating the birth of a juvenile god identified with the king.