Bes in the Egyptian Pantheon
Bes is a popular Egyptian deity, always depicted as a grotesque and deformed bearded dwarf, with the huge face of a mask with hybrid monkey-lion features and widened legs between which hangs a long animal’s tail. Bes is the only deity in the ancient Egyptian pantheon to be represented exclusively in front perspective. Dwarfs enjoyed elevated social status in Ancient Egypt, as they were considered to have been celestially blessed.
Sexuality, Music and Dancing
Bes was also associated with sexuality, humour, music, and dancing, and was immensely popular with the people of everyday Egypt. The frequent occurrence of his image throughout the later Dynastic Period is testament to this popularity: during this time, he was seen as the protector of all things good, and as the destroyer of evil. There is evidence of people dressing as Bes in the ancient world, and of girls getting tattoos of the deity on their thighs. He was also often carved on mirrors and toiletries, on account of his role as a deity overlooking women’s adornment habits.
Bes, Women and Children
In Egyptian culture and mythology, Bes acted also as guardian of women, the household, and children, and he was particularly linked to the critical events of labour and birth. He was also a protector of sleep, ensuring sweet dreams; in fact he was often depicted on the beds to prevent evil spirits from appearing in dreams.