Ancient Egyptian Bi-chrome Faience Ushabti Fragment


A very finely modelled Ancient Egyptian bi-chrome glazed ushabti head. The piece displays the remains of a tripartite wig, coloured a dark blue. Remnants of a plain, flase beard is also visible. The shabti displays large, almond-shaped eyes, a long nose and gently smiling lips. Overal this is a very delicate piece and rendered with naturalistic features. Once part of a full shabti figure.

Measurements given are of the head alone. With the stand, the head measures 5.5cm height x 3cm width.


Date: Circa 332 BC
Period: Ptolemaic Period
Provenance: Ex Ancient Art acquired 2014. Ex private English collection, MT.
Condition: Very fine condition. Fragment.


SKU: AH-940 Category: Tags: , ,

Shabtis  or ushabtis are among the most numerous of all Egyptian antiquities, as they played a major role in funeral rites. Indeed, they were intended to act as servants for the deceased and to perform any manual labour for their master in the afterlife. For this to be possible, it was necessary that each shabti present in the grave had the name of their master inscribed on it and also a summoning spell to which they replied. In fact, shabti – or ushabti – translates as “the answerer”. Such figurines could also be inscribed with passages from the Book of the Dead, the intention of which was to secure safety for the deceased in the afterlife.

This particular shabti fragment bears a great resemblance to the late Late Period/early Ptolemaic ushabtis belonging to an individual named Petosiris. He was a priest for the two goddesses Hathor and Wadjit and his body was found together with his parents and brothers in a two-chambered tomb at Abydos. A total of 385 shabtis were found belonging to Peteosiris, 36 of which were inscribed with chapter 6 of the ‘Book of the Dead’ and represented the 36 overseer shabtis needed in a full ‘set’. The remaining shabtis, with 83 bi-chrome shabtis, were undecorated, representing the ‘workers’ needed in the afterlife. The tomb of Petosiris was located in Abydos, cemetery G, tomb G50.

To discover more about Egyptian shabtis, please visit our relevant blog post: How Ancient Egyptian Shabtis and Funerary Statuettes Watched Over the Dead.

Weight 38.5 g
Dimensions W 3 x H 3.4 cm




Reference: For similar full shabti: The British Museum, London, item EA37332

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