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Finial with Figure of the God Bes

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.
CULTURE Egyptian
  • Reportedly From: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1075–656 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 21 to Dynasty 25
    PERIOD Third Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 15 15/16 x 2 13/16 in. (40.5 x 7.2 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by December 1926, acquired by M.A. Mansoor; December 17, 1926, sold at Sotheby's, London, "Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman Antiquities" lot 222; between 1926 and 1936, provenance not yet documented; before July 1936, acquired by an unidentified collector; July 28, 1936, purchased at Sotheby's "Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Roman Antiquities Native Art etc.," lot 20 by the Brummer Gallery, New York, NY; June 27, 1946, purchased from the Brummer Gallery (P13050) by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bronze figure of the god Bes on papyrus column with swelling shaft and plain capital in the form of papyrus umbel. The god is nude and represented with broad face and lion's mane and ears, crowned with feather crown consisting of five plumes on the back of each of which is a ring. The left hand rests on his thigh, the right is raised, palm outward. A lion's tail growing from his body, in back reaches to the papyrus umbel. The figure apparently solid-cast in one piece with papyrus umbel which is fitted to separately cast hollow column. Crown also separately cast and inserted in head. All details apparently present in wax model. Condition: Practically perfect.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Egyptian. Finial with Figure of the God Bes, ca. 1075–656 B.C.E. Bronze, 15 15/16 x 2 13/16 in. (40.5 x 7.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 46.127. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 46.127_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 46.127_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    Egyptian. <em>Finial with Figure of the God Bes</em>, ca. 1075–656 B.C.E. Bronze, 15 15/16 x 2 13/16 in. (40.5 x 7.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 46.127. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 46.127_SL3.jpg)