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.
The name Sematawi (also seen as Semataui) appears on shabtis of this design, but also with those that include chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead. The name Sematawi means ‘Uniter of the Two Lands’ and was associated with a falcon-headed god, Her Sema Tawy. The Greek version of this name was Harsomtes and he was considered a child of Horus and Hathor/Isis. In Herakleopolis, the god was worshipped as two seperate entities, Horus and Somtes.
The vertical bar of hieroglyphs begins with two signs, the duck sign and a crude ‘child’ sign. The duck sign translates as son whilst the second sign, translates as Srj or Sheri. Most translations label this as the father’s name, however it also translates as ‘child’. Thus, the shabti could only mention Sematawi’s mother’s name.
To discover more about Egyptian shabtis, please visit our relevant blog post: How Ancient Egyptian Shabtis and Funerary Statuettes Watched Over the Dead.