Furniture lion leg

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Life (first floor), Woodwork case
Object Type
Furniture, Furniture element
Egypt, Akhmim
Height: 242mm
Number of Elements
Divine Name

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The leg of a piece of furniture in the form of a lion leg, with a depiction of Bes in blue paint. Bes appears to be standing on a sa-sign. A snake can be seen on another face. Household objects were often designed in reference to religious belief appropriate to their function. Just as the lion was symbolically associated with the rebirth of the sun at dawn, and therefore a lion shaped bed might confer refreshed awakening from sleep for the occupant. The qualities of manly strength and fecundity possessed by Bes and Taweret respectively would promote marital happiness and successful birth. It is possible that the leg is part of a 'woman's bed' upon which a woman would have given birth and/or rested shortly after birth. Janna Toivari-Viitala (2001, 178) notes the purchase of 'women's beds', along with birth amulets, and suggests therefore that such beds were used for birth and nursing. See Pinch 1983, 406, pl.V who shows that such beds shown on ostraca had Bes legs. This item was purchased by Wellcome from the Rustafjaell collection, 1906, and is probably from Akhmim.


Janna Toivari-Viitala (2001, 'Women at Deir el-Medina. A study of the status and roles of the female inhabitants at the workmen's community during the Ramesside Period' page 178. Pinch, G. 1983. Childbirth and Female Figurines at Deir el-Medina and el-Amarna, 'Orientalia' 52, 405-414.


Other Identity
906 (Rustafjaell) (rectangular serrated label) | 2055 (number given by G Killen)
Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge: 19–21 Dec 1906, Lot 152
Previous Owners
Robert de Rustafjaell (1859–1943) | Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936)
Long-term loan, The Wellcome Trust (15 Feb 1971)
Last modified: 17 Feb 2021

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