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Stela with Bes and Tutu

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Two powerful gods stand on either side of a table with offerings: Bes, shown brandishing a sword, and Tutu, depicted as a sphinx with a snakeheaded tail. The seven demons controlled by Tutu are pictured above him.

Reliefs on stelae such as this one were intended to placate the gods, keeping them in a favorable disposition. Alternately, placed in a temple, they served a votive function, expressing the donor’s gratitude for protection against illness and misfortune.
MEDIUM Limestone
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 332–30 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 10 7/16 x 18 3/4 x 3 9/16 in., 47.4 lb. (26.5 x 47.7 x 9 cm, 21.5kg)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by 1958, acquired by Münzen und Medaillen A.G., Basel, Switzerland; June 11, 1958, purchased from Münzen und Medaillen A.G. by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Limestone stela in rather bold low relief, framed by two plant columns supporting a cavetto cornice decorated with winged sun disc flanked by uraei. The main representation shows a sphinx striding to the right. The sphinx's tail ends in a serpent's head and crosses over the left-hand column. In front of the sphinx, to the right, is an offering table on a high stand. Other food offerings are on the table top. Further to the right is a figure of Bes, in front view, with feather crown, a raised sword in his right hand and a scaled serpent in his left. Over the sphinx head is a small panel with an illegible incised line of text. To the left, in a separate panel, are seven male demons walking to the right. They hold an oblong object in the near hand hanging down. Their heads are: 1) crocodile, 2) bull, 3) lion, 4) baboon, 5) jackal, 6) ibex, 7) hare. They all have long striated wigs. The walking sphinx represents the god Tutu (Tithoes). Condition: Good; somewhat chipped and discolored in several places.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Stela with Bes and Tutu, 332–30 B.C.E. Limestone, 10 7/16 x 18 3/4 x 3 9/16 in., 47.4 lb. (26.5 x 47.7 x 9 cm, 21.5kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 58.98. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 58.98_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 58.98_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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