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. As a special activity children and their adults can listen to a “radio programme” in the exhibition. Bes will be in the studio playing songs about all the different things he’s able to do.
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.
A part of the exhibition has been made into a listening room where children and their adults, besides listening to radio with Bes, are encouraged to discover some of Bes’s different characters in the exhibition.
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.
A fantastical universe for children
Bes. Demon God – Protector of Egypt is aimed at both adults and children, all of who can look forward to a really close encounter with this popular little deity. This exhibition includes a brand new, specially-devised feature – a fantastical musical universe, which visitors can experience in a special family room.
Here, you can listen to Bes singing songs and talking about his many different roles – as a soldier, a protector and a dancer. We actually invited Bes into the Radio Glyp studio to appear in the fantasy radio programme Music of the Gods. He sings and talks about his various talents. The music was newly composed for the exhibition by the composer and musician Emil Jensen.
Radio Glyp is a result of the Glyptotek’s ongoing commitment to new, sound-based public engagement, providing both children and adults with fascinating museum experiences that pique their curiosity.
Listen to the song ‘Hugger hakker stikker’ (Slash, Chop, Stab), in which Bes sings about being a soldier god.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue in Danish and English designed by Rasmus Koch Studio. It features in-depth articles about the exhibition’s themes by various Danish and foreign researchers. You can find the catalogue in the museum shop or the webshop.
Architects: TREBEN – Alexander H. Damsbo & Henrik Ingemann Nielsen
Graphics: All the Way to Paris
Catalogue: Rasmus Koch Studio
Composer: Emil Jensen
Our sincere thanks for generous support for the exhibition from:
Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond
Glyptoteket's exhibitions present artworks and cultural-historical objects.
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