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Bes with Lute

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Bes was popularly worshipped as protector of women and infants, and as a facilitator of fertility. Shown standing on the head and shoulders of a woman with a baby, in Bes with Lute the god protects the mother and newborn by driving away potential harm with the sounds of his musical instrument. The large, round ears and facial folds seen on the Finial are reminiscent of a snarling lion and connect Bes with powerful felines. Because Bes was a multifaceted god who offered protection during such times of transition as pregnancy and birth, women wore his images, like the Amulet, while giving birth or during rites of passage.
MEDIUM Copper alloy
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 664-343 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26 to Dynasty 30
    PERIOD Late Period
    DIMENSIONS 4 1/2 × 1 1/16 × 7/8 in. (11.4 × 2.7 × 2.3 cm) With Mount: 8 1/2 × 1 1/16 × 2 1/2 in. (21.6 × 2.7 × 6.4 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bes stands, his right foot planted on Bast’s head, his left on her left shoulder. His instrument is of the lute family. The infant clings with his legs and to the goddess’ body but is also supported by her, her left hand is against his back, her right holds his left hand. There are three eyelets on the top of the headdress behind in a vertical position. The details of the headdress are rendered in front by incised lines. Green to black patina. The tail looks more as if a part of Bes and not a skin with tail thrown over the figure as in other figurines from the collection. The lower legs and feet with square plinth which have been broken off are lead. It looks as if the whole figure were lead which has been painted over to give the appearance of bronze. The brown to green surface is opaque and thick. There are three holes between right knee and body, between tail of Bes and body, between left elbow of Bes and body, and between the child’s left hand and the goddess’ body. Child’s right arm molded very deep. The whole may have been a harp. Hardly a mere votive statuette. Condition: Cu/black patina. Female figure is missing her lower legs. Much pitting on rear. One piece, solid cast. Surface in poor condition.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Bes with Lute, 664-343 B.C.E. Copper alloy, 4 1/2 × 1 1/16 × 7/8 in. (11.4 × 2.7 × 2.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.921E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.921E_front_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 37.921E_front_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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