Bisu, Aha – ‘The Fighter’
Symbol: Ostrich feather, rattle
Family & Other Connections
Husband of Beset, who was essentially a female version of himself.
Information & Stories
Bes was depicted as a short, squat man, with a thick, dark beard. Often he is seen sticking out his tongue and shaking a rattle. Because of his short stature he is thought by some to be a dwarf, but as he is also often depicted with a lion’s tail it may be that he is meant to resemble a lion rearing up on its hind legs.
Traces of Bes’ worship can be traced back through the Middle Kingdom to the Old Kingdom, but it was not until the New Kingdom that he became really popular. He was a protector of households, and many homes would contain an image of Bes. These depictions were unusual for Egyptian art in that they showed Bes face-on instead of the side-profile which most people associate with Egyptian pictures. This signified that Bes was ready to meet any foes head-on, and he would scare demons away from houses.
Bes would protect the people inside the home as well, watching over births and guarding the children. Because he was known to drive away evil, Bes became associated with such luxuries as music, dance and sexual pleasure. Archaeologists have found chambers painted with images of Bes and Beset, and these are thought to have been used for rituals involving healing or fertility.
Due to Bes’ affinity for dance and music, entertainers would sometimes have a tattoo of Bes in order to gain his prorection. Bes himself would entertain small children, and it was said that if a baby laughed for no reason, Bes was pulling funny faces at it.
Bes is a protector; of households, mothers and children. He is the defender of everything good and the enemy of everything bad.
Later on in the history of Ancient Egypt it became common to wear an amulet depicting Bes’ face, and Bes masks and costumes have been discovered which show too many signs of wear to have been kept for special religious purposes. They may have been used on stage by professional entertainers.