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Blue faience Bes pendant with Bes playing a round circular drum, tambourine, or possibly cymbals. 15mm high. From depictions where it is easier to see what he is holding, the object looks like a round hand-drum. Such pendants are typical of Amarna and Malqata. Bes in profile is known from the reign of Amenhotep III. Bes seems to have been a household god connected with fertility and the protection of women in childbirth. He is often shown as a dwarf god, with a sticking out tongue and a leonine mane.  

In Hathor’s temple at Denderah Bes beats a round musical instrument for the goddess.  For a similar amulet see Lacovara et al., 2001,147. The drum, in the Near East was particularly associated with female musicians (Meyers 1993). But the circular drum is an instrument of both men and women. 

The number of Bes amulets from Amarna show that the city was not entirely given over to worship of the Aten. Stevens (2006, 31-33) states that over 500 Bes images from jewellery have been found at Amarna.  

From Cyril Aldred at the Royal Scottish Museum Edinburgh.


We have a separate information sheet on Bes.  

Other items associated with music in the Egypt Centre


 Further Reading  

Lacovara, P. Trope, B. T. and D’Auria, B. 2001. The Collector’s Eye. Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from the Thalassic Collection, Ltd. Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum .    

Meyers, C. 1993. ‘The Drum-Dance-Song Ensemble: women’s Performance in Biblical Israel.’ In Rediscovering the Muses, Women’s Musical Traditions edited by K. Marshall. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 49-67.

Stevens, A., 2006. Private Religion at Amarna. The Material Evidence. BAR International Series 1587.  Oxford: Archeopress