- Museum number
Glazed composition staff-terminal in the form of a figure of Bes: highly modelled in dark green blue glazed composition, Bes is depicted as usual with leonine features, ears and mane, sticking out his tongue and baring his teeth. He is dwarf-like with bandy legs, naked and wears a tall feather headdress. Between his feet, which are set on top of two crouched, outward facing frogs in three-dimensions, is a high relief seated vervet monkey in profile, its paws to its mouth. On the monkey's head rest the feet of an infant figure carved in high relief with plumed headdress and leonine features, whom Bes cradles in the crook of his left arm while offering him a dom nut in his right hand. Two more vervets, in the same posture as the first, facing front, sit on the frogs' heads. Two much larger vervets, again in the same attitude and carved in three-dimensions sit on the shoulders of Bes. At the back, behind the headdress, is a hobbled oryx in high relief, its front legs bent under it. On this side of the piece Bes' bandy legs and lion's tail are clearly visible. The whole tableau is set on a three-dimensional papyrus column with short hollow shaft. Carving enhances various details of the piece and the bodies of Bes, the monkeys and the oryx have black mottling.
- Production date
Height: 18.50 centimetres
Length: 2.50 millimetres
Weight: 0.18 kilograms
Width: 7 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Bes was the good-natured genie who drove away harmful forces at the moment of birth. The bound oryx symbolizes his dominion over them, which as a desert dwelling creature, was associated with the malevolent god Seth. However, he was connected not just with birth, but with the subsequent nurturing of the newborn infant represented here by the baby Bes cradles and the food he offers it. The frog and papyrus were both symbolic of new life. The vervet monkey was associated with sexuality and fertility, especially in the context of family love. Visually this object unites the themes of protection at the moment of birth, care and nurturing of the newborn baby and perpetuation of the family. The hole in the papyrus shaft was obviously for the insertion of a handle of some kind. There are also holes in the headdress, ears and monkeys' faces, which might have held attachments. Perhaps the object was actually shaken like a sistrum to make a noise and drive away evil forces at birth or during nursing.
'Egyptian Treasures' [exhibition catalogue] (Shanghai, 1999), 102-105 No 27.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2005-2006 Oct-Feb, Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, Mummy: The Inside Story
2006 7 Mar-6 Aug, Mobile (Alabama), Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, Mummy: The Inside Story
2006-2007 6 Oct-18 Feb, Tokyo, National Museum of Nature and Science, Mummy: The Inside Story
2007 17 Mar-17 Jun, Kobe City Museum, Mummy: The Inside Story
19th Nov 2011- 11 Mar 2012. Richmond , VA, Virginia museum of Fine Art. Mummy. The inside story.
Mar - Oct 2012. Brisbane, Queensland Museum South Bank. Mummy: The Inside Story
2012/3, Nov-Apr, Mumbai, CSMVS, Mummy: The Inside Story
2013, Apr-Nov, Singapore, ArtScience Museum, Mummy: The Inside Story
2016-2017 10 Oct-30 Apr, Sydney, Powerhouse Museum, Ancient Lives
2017 16 Jun-18 Oct, Hong Kong Science Museum, Ancient Lives
2019-2020 14 Sept- 28 Jun, Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, Ancient Lives EXTENDED DUE TO COVID19
2020-2021, 19 Sept - 21 Mar, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, Ancient Lives
2017-2018 14 Nov-20 Feb, Taiwan, National Palace Museum, Ancient Lives
2018 16 Mar-22 Jul, Brisbane, Queensland Museum of Art, Ancient Lives
2019-2020 14 Sept- 29 Mar, Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, Ancient Lives
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number