You are in: Collections > Ancient World > Egypt > Galleries Online > Egyptian Galleries Home

[Back to results screen]

This full record display is using an old version of our collections database until it has been reconfigured to work with our new Collections Explorer.
In the meantime, if the record has been edited recently, the version you see here may contain out of date information. To be sure of finding the most up-to-date records please run the search again in Collections Explorer. This is a temporary measure, in place only whilst the new system is being developed, and we apologise for any inconvenience. If you have any questions about the data in this record please contact the Documentation Office

Clay figure of Bes as a soldier

Click on image(s) for larger view


Clay figure of Bes as a soldier








Nile silt clay, mould-made in three parts: the front, which was pushed into a mould and sealed with a flat clay back, the shield and the base, which is also sealed at the top. The back of the piece is not modelled but there are the remains of four points of clay which indicate that the figure was fired on its back and was propped during this process on account of the depth of the base. There are traces of a plaster wash on the surface. Bes is always shown as a dwarf-like figure with leonine ears and ruff. His face is exaggerated, with mask-like features and he usually extends his tongue. Traditionally, he was a household deity who protected sleepers, women in childbirth and women from each other's jealousy. In the Roman period, however, he became associated with new and more specific social groups in society. Here we see Bes as a Roman soldier. He wears a tunic and skirt that is moulded in a fashion to suggest that it is made from a series of tongues. In his left hand he holds an oval shield. His right arm is raised and holds a small sword or dagger towards his crown. The headdress is made up of five plumes in the traditional form for Bes. His tongue is not obviously projecting, but the surface in this area is rather worn. Bes appears with a sword in the Ptolemaic period but he usually stands with only a panther skin and is not dressed in military attire. He became enormously popular with Roman troops in Egypt, who may have mistaken the sword that Bes used to fight off household spirits as a piece of military equipment. Although no temples were dedicated specifically to him, he remained popular as a household deity and his statue was often included in temples to other gods. Only the sword indicates his warrior status in the Ptolemaic period; Roman examples show him in full military dress.

Field Collection



height 21 cm


circa 30 B.C. — A.D. 395


bequeathed: Whyte, Edward Towry 1932 (Filtered for: Antiquities)


  1. Ashton, S.A.
    (2004) Roman Egyptomania , London : Golden House Publications (2004) London: Golden House Publications [page: 98 & 99]



Accession Number

E.207.1932 (Antiquities)
(Reference Number: 52934; Input Date: 2003-03-25 / Last Edit: 2011-07-12)

Related Image/s

[back to top]