This solid cast figure of the goddess Bastet represents her as a woman with cat’s head wearing a heavily patterned long garment. Her eyes have gold inlays and her ears are pierced for earrings. Of all the maned lion goddesses who were revered for their ferocity, Bastet alone was later transformed into the less terrible cat. The female cat was particularly noted for her fecundity, and so Bastet was adored as goddess of fertility and, with less obvious logic, of festivity and intoxication. As evidence of her fecundity no less than four kittens sit at her feet. Another perches inside the sistrum or Egyptian rattle, which she carries in her hand to symbolize the other facet of her personality, for it is a musical instrument connected with merrymaking. Originally there were two horizontal rods inside the hoop bearing metal discs intended to make a clashing sound when the instrument was shaken. The face of the goddess Hathor, who was also connected with music, appears on the sistrum’s handle. Across her chest Bastet carries an aegis or broad collar, surmounted by a lion goddess’ head wearing a sun disc, perhaps representing Bastet herself in her original fierce manifestation. The ‘aegis’ is probably to be interpreted as the top of the counterpoise to a ‘menyet’ collar of loosely strung beads, another musical instrument connected with merrymaking; when shaken the beads would clack together. There is a hieroglyphic text around the edges of the plinth, largely eroded or erased.
This section of raised relief shows Mentuhotep II, wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt, embraced by the god Montu. Montu embraces the king with both hands as a sign that Mentuhotep is the recipient of the god’s blessings and benefits. Although Montu’s figure here is almost entirely gone, he can be recognized from the traces of his headdress. Montu wore a sun disk circled by two cobras; part of the disk and the cobras are still preserved. Behind Mentuhotep stood a goddess, probably Hathor. But a closer look at the king’s shoulder reveals too many hands: one hand of Montu and two others, both of which cannot belong to the goddess. It is possible that something went awry here when the relief was restored during the New Kingdom, as we know it was. But it is also possible that this was an ancient mistake, which would have been hidden under plaster and paint. The proportions of the figures are quite natural, and there is a good deal of modeling in the king’s face. Most of the detail, however, was painted, rather than carved. The paint is well preserved, although it has darkened with time and with early preservation treatments. We can still see that the red crown was indeed red, and we can make out the details of the king’s elaborate costume. In addition to the usual collar necklace he wears a single-strap tunic and a plain, short kilt. Attached to the belt is an apron of bead strings. This partially covers a beadwork panel wrapped across one hip, from which is suspended an amulet representing a swallow with a sun disk on its back.