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Amulet of Bes

Amulet of Bes
© BA Antiquities Museum/H. Mady


showcase 5

Amulet of Bes

Category:
  • Religious / Cult objects, amulets, amulets in the shape of a god / goddess, Bes
  • Tomb equipment, amulets, amulets in the shape of a god / goddess, Bes
Date:
Ancient Egyptian period, Late Period (664-332 BCE)
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Man made material, faience
Height:
4.5 cm
Hall:
In the Afterlife, showcase 5


Description

Amulet representing Bes with bandy legs, wearing tall plumes on his head.

Amulets of Bes

Surprisingly, few amulets of deities, whether in human, animal-headed, or sacred animal form, predate the New Kingdom. The most popular forms were the minor deities related with birth, such as Bes. Amulets of Bes were particularly worn in life, especially by women and children, but they also served a protective purpose in the tomb, as they help rebirth in the afterlife.

Bes

Bes was a good-natured genie who warded off evil influences at the moment of birth by noisy music-making or by wielding a knife. He is depicted full-faced, with a complete lion’s mane, surrounding his very leonine features. He also has a lion’s tail. Always naked, dwarf-like with bandy legs, and wearing tall plumes, Bes usually rests his hands on his hips. In Graeco-Roman times, however, he sometimes carried a shield and brandished with a sword as tangible evidence of his protective qualities and reflecting his original name, Aha, “the Fighter”.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • Andrews, Carol. Egyptian Amulets. London: British Museum, 1994.
  • D'Aria, Sue et al. Mummies and Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1988.
  • Freed, Rita E. A Divine Tour of Ancient Egypt. Memphis, Tenn.: Memphis State University, c1983.
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