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ID number:  ECM 114
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Bes Amulet
Object type:  Amulet
Culture:  Egyptian
Collector:  Warre, Agnes
Materials:  Faience (blue)
Measurements:  overall: 3.04 cm x 1.35 cm x 0.41 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Unknown

Flat-backed, moulded amulet of a frontal Bes figure. The god rests his hands on his thighs and an animal tail or phallus drops between his legs. A suspension lug attached at the top of Bes' head may replace the usual plumed headdress.

Bibliography:  For further discussion of amulets, see:
Andrews, C. 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. London. (p. 39)

Petrie, W. M. F. 1914. Amulets. London. (p. 40-41, pl. XXXIII - XXXIV)

Romano, J. 1980. ‘The Origin of the Bes-Image’, Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 2, 39-56.

Notes:  Amulets depicting the god Bes first appeared during the 18th Dynasty, although the iconography of Bes can be seen in earlier Middle Kingdom ivory knives/wands. Amulets of Bes remained popular into the Roman Period and exhibit a number of variations.

Many Bes amulets represent him frontally, with his hands resting on his hips or bandy legs, which have been shown to hearken back to his leonine origins. However, the anthropomorphism of Bes during the 18th Dynasty also resulted in the introduction of amulets depicting Bes in profile, striding forward playing a musical instrument, usually a tambourine or drum. It is also during this period that Bes develops his iconic dwarf-like character that typifies his iconography for the rest of dynastic history. During the Third Intermediate Period Bes-head amulets became popular, very often depicting the god sticking out his tongue or bearing his teeth. The protective qualities of these amulets are most obviously shown in Graeco-Roman examples when the god is shown brandishing military weapons or shields.

It is thought that Bes amulets were probably worn during the lifetime of their owners, particularly by pregnant women and children. In this capacity they served to protect these vulnerable groups through childbirth and infancy.

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