Ancient Egyptian Named Faience Ushabti for Sematawi


A very finely modelled Ancient Egyptian turquoise glazed faience shabti, featuring a dorsal pillar to the reverse. The shabti is shown wearing a tripartite wig and a false beard and holding a pick and a hoe in his crossed arms, the right arm crossing over the left. A basket hangs behind him on his left shoulder. The body has been inscribed with hieroglyphs in a T-shaped bar formation. The moulded details remain very well preserved, with very clear facial features and hieroglyphs.

The horizontal bar transliterates as:

Sḥḏ Wsir sA-mr=f Hrj-mSa smA-tA.wj

The vertical bar transliterates as:

sA Srj ms (n) mAa-xrw

The translation of the hieroglyphs reads:

The Illuminated, the Osiris, the Sameref priest, commander of the troop, Sematawi (Semataui), son [of Sheri], born of Tashepsether, justified.


Date: Circa 525-343 BC
Period: Late Period, 27th - 30th Dynasty
Provenance: Ex English private collection, A.B., acquired before 1970. Ex Bonham's 8th May 2013, lot 337. Ex English private collection, MT.
Condition: Very fine condition. Some loss of glazing.


SKU: AH-936 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.

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.

Weight 75.7 g
Dimensions L 12.9 x W 3.4 cm

Egyptian Mythology