Egypt or Nubia

Bes, spirit of domestic happiness, lord of love, music, and dancing, was among the most beloved popular deities of ancient Egypt. Spirit of pleasure and a woman’s best friend, Bes protects the family, especially children and pregnant women. He guards against evil spirits and trouble. Bes keeps malicious spirits away from women especially at crucial moments of conception and childbirth. Bes guards the childbirth process, guarantees fertility, may ward off venereal disease, and shields against the Evil Eye.

Bes’ distinctive image was ubiquitous in Egypt, carved onto bedposts and unguent pots, painted upon walls and tattooed onto the left thigh of female entertainers. Bes has long been perceived as a popular deity, beloved of the masses, rather than as a member of the official cult, but recent archaeological evidence indicates that Bes was a favourite with royalty and the upper classes, too. Some scholars believe that Bes originated in Nubia and traveled north. He was venerated as far afield as Mesopotamia.


Bes is a small man with a lion’s mane. He usually wears a lion or leopard skin and sometimes a crown of tall plumes. He dances with a small drum or a tambourine, slashing about with knives. His dance is intended to provoke laughter, which helps chase away malicious spirits. His association with drums is unusual and significant in a culture where drumming was associated with women. He is the only Egyptian deity who is consistently depicted full face.


Bes holds a knife for defense and the sa, an instrument of protection. He also holds various musical instruments whose sounds are meant to terrify evil spirits. He plays the harp, lyre, drums, and tambourine.


Taweret; they have a wonderful marriage and are happiest if venerated together.



Place: Bes is rumored to dwell in the southern gate of the Karnak Temple, where he reputedly enjoys startling unwary tourists.


Beset; Taweret


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

Bes In Egyptian mythology, a patron god of art, music, and childbirth as well as a god of war and a strangler of antelopes, bears, lions, and serpents; derived from a lion deity. He was a kind of divine exorcist, driving away evil by dancing and banging a drum or tambourine. The dual nature of Bes in Egyptian belief is reflected in the various images of the god.

Usually he is portrayed as a dwarf with a huge bearded head, protruding tongue, flat nose, shaggy eyebrows and hair, large projecting ears, long thick arms, and bowed legs. Around his body he wears an animal skin whose tail hangs down, usually touching the ground behind him. On his head he wears a tiara of feathers, which suggests his primitive nature. In later Egyptian art, however, Bes is given a handsome body because he absorbed the character of the sun god and became identified with Horus the Child as well as Ra and Temu.

As Horus he wore a lock of hair on the right side of his head, which is the symbol of youth. All of these images suggest the various phases of the sun during the day. Bes was frequently portrayed on steles, vases, and amulets, often in ithyphallic form. His image was hung over headrests as a charm to keep away evil spirits. His female counterpart was Beset.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante


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