Bes. Demon god – Protector of Egypt

Special Exhibitions /01.05 - 20.09.2020

Say ‘Egyptian gods’ and it is usually the sun god Ra, Anubis god of the dead or the goddess Isis that spring to mind. But in Ancient Egypt, there were other types of gods that were much closer to the everyday lives of the Egyptians. The most important of these gods was Bes.

This special exhibition, Bes. Demon god – Protector of Egypt offers visitors an opportunity to meet the little deity Bes, who in Ancient Egypt protected people against all imaginable ills.

Bes is easily recognisable. He has short, stumpy legs, his tongue pokes out of his mouth, his beard resembles a lion’s mane and he has a feather ornament on his head. Bes was present in people’s lives at all levels of Ancient Egyptian society, in the homes of both pharaohs and slaves. He provided protection against diseases, took care of pregnant women and frightened children, prevented snake bites, and had the power to scare away all enemies.

The exhibition invites visitors into Bes’s universe, where magic and the belief that good demons can ward off all kinds of evil are a natural part of life. The exhibition takes us into Egyptian homes, where Bes played an indispensable role in everyday life. There was a huge risk of death in childbirth, and the rate of infant mortality was high. Bes offered protection against everything, so he was present everywhere in the homes of the Ancient Egyptians – on beds and headrests, on cosmetic containers and mirrors, and on so-called ‘Bes jars’ and magic wands.

The exhibition has been organised by the Glyptotek in collaboration with the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam and the Museum August Kestner, Hannover with additional loans from Römer-Pelizaeus Museum Hildesheim, the University of Aberdeen Museum and Ägyptisches Museum Leipzig.


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