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Limestone stela with three figures of Bes


Length: 40.600 cm
Height: 34.400 cm

EA 1178

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Limestone stela with three figures of Bes

    From Egypt
    Ptolemaic or Roman Period, 100 BC- AD 100

    Bes brandishing a sword

    Bes was very prominent in the religious concerns of the ordinary people of ancient Egypt. Bes was thought to help ensure fertility and keep women safe in childbirth, as well as looking after children and mankind in general. He is conventionally depicted as a dwarf with a grotesque mask and lion mane. Like many deities important to private people, he never had a state cult, but was worshipped in local shrines and in private homes. His cult goes back at least to the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), although he is most prominent in the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) and later.

    This stela illustrates Bes' concerns with protecting people. It was probably set up outside a house and was intended to keep away evil. Each figure of the god brandishes a sword, and in the other hand he holds a serpent, the embodiment of evil.

    V. Dasen, Dwarfs in ancient Egypt and Gr (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993)

    G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


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