Under the Spell of Bes

Branko F. van Oppen de Ruiter & Robert Steven Bianchi

This volume brings together an international roster of authors to reassess themes related to the leonine dwarfish figure conventionally identified as Bes. Starting with apotropaic ivory implements portraying an array of frightful entities, Fred Vink re-examines the origin, iconography and significance of the leonine Aha, “The Fighter,” and his female counterpart. Taking a cue from the Lahun mask identified as Bes, Rune Nyord reconsiders the role of masks and masking in ancient Egyptian religion and society. Next, Hedvig Győry proposes the first typology of the earliest amulets representing dwarfish beings like Bes or Pataikos. A ceramic Bes mug allows Enrico Greco and his team to perform state-or-the-art scientific analyses of its organic residue with astonishing results. Another type of leonine head vase shows features that are so unlike that of Bes, that Robert S. Bianchi identifies the figure rather as “leonteios” and argues that such ceramic vessels were used for drinking wine. In her overview of the diffusion of Bes and other dwarfish figures across the ancient Mediterranean, Isabelle Tassignon connects that spread beyond Egypt with the westward expansion of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. Lastly, Fabio Spadini offers the first in-depth study of the magical gemstones engraved with Bes images, which he connects with divination, the worship of Isis, and the protection of mothers from conception through pregnancy and labor through childrearing. In all, we believe that the concoction of contributions has all the ingredients to put the reader under the spell of Bes!

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Imprint: Abercromby Press

ISBN: 978 1 912246 25 0

Pages: xxvi + 205

Format: Hardback

Published: 4/8/2024

Copyright: 2024