Composite or pantheistic Bes figurine
This elaborate figurine of the dwarf god Bes falls into a class of amuletic objects which can be categorized as apotropaic; they were intended to ward off malefic powers or influences from the fortunate owner. It is possible that such figures were also offered as votive gifts in temples and shrines.
Figures of Bes showing pantheistic attributes are not rare, but the present piece is an especially fine example with much iconographical detail meriting full description. The god has his usual feathered head-dress, and sun-disk with horns, set above a circular coronet modius. He is provided with two sets of arms, the upper pair outstretched above two pairs of wings and grasping objects which can be interpreted as knives. The right hand of the lower set of arms holds a was sceptre, symbol of ‘dominion’, and the left an ankh, the sign of ‘life’. On the left side of the head are placed the forepart of a crocodile (Sobek) with the head of a jackal (Anubis) below it. On the right side are seen feline (?) and hippopotamus heads. In place of the customary phallus, the figure is provided with the head of a jackal, now slightly damaged. The left leg of Bes is shown advanced, his feet being in the form of jackals’ heads.
The back of the figure, which has the folded wings of a falcon (Horus), is equally informative. Behind the head are represented four smaller heads; a baboon (Thoth, top right), a bull s head with sun-disk and horns (probably Apis, top left), a cat (Bastet, lower left) and a ram (Amun or Khnum, lower right). The suspension loop above is broken.
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection 3 volume catalogue, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997).
Purchased by the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia from Peter Sharrer in 1977 out of funds provided by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury.
Title/Description: Composite or pantheistic Bes figurine
Object Type: Figure
Measurements: h. 87 x w. 85 x d. 27 mm
Accession Number: 682
Historic Period: Dynasties XXVI-XXX (c. 650-342 BC)
Credit Line: Purchased with support from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, 1977