Egyptian Faience Shabti with Hieroglyphic Inscriptions


An Egyptian, light turquoise, glazed faience shabti with 6 rows of horizontal hieroglyphic inscriptions. The figure wears a tripartite-wig decorated with striations. The face is finely modelled in relief with delicate facial features, highlighting the eyebrows, nose and mouth. The hands are crossed above the waist, holding a pick and hoe. The hieroglyph inscriptions are not fully legible due to the deterioration of the glaze. However, it is possible to make out vaguely in the centre of the first row, the sign 𓄟  “ms” which is usually used in the construction “born  to”, followed by the names of the mother or father of the deceased. The hieroglyphic inscription is thus a form of the shabti spell that starts with naming the deceased “The illuminated Osiris, X, justified, born to, Y”. A stylised seed-basket hangs over the left shoulder of the shabti. This is to symbolise the work shabtis are expected to carry out, as they labour for their owner (the deceased) in the afterlife. There is also a back-pillar and a plinth beneath the feet. A modern plastic base has been attached to the plinth.

Date: Circa 664-525 BC
Period: Late Period, 26th Dynasty
Provenance: From a Private Dorset collection, 1980s-1990s.
Condition: Fair condition. Encrustations and diminutive cavities to the surface. Peeling of the glaze on the top of the head, nose, feet and pillar region. Deterioration of the hieroglyph inscriptions consistent with age.

In stock

SKU: XJ-45 Category: Tags: , , ,

Shabtis or ushabtis were small figurines buried with the deceased, intended to carry out menial labour on their owner’s behalf in the afterlife. To reflect this function, they are usually depicted in the form of a mummy holding tools in their hands – baskets, mattocks and hoes. Shabtis are among the most numerous of Egyptian antiquities, as they played a major role in funeral rites. A typical elite burial would contain hundreds of shabtis. Many shabtis are inscribed with the title and name of the owner. Some were even inscribed with a spell in which the deceased summons the shabtis to work. The “Shabti spell” is taken from chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead  and is also attested in the coffin text spell 472.

“The illuminated one, the Osiris, [title and name of the deceased], justified, born to [mother or father’s name], justified. He speaks:

O shabti figure(s)
If [name of the deceased] is called up to do any work that is done there in the underworld
Then the checkmarks (on the work list) are struck for him there
As for a man for his (work service) duty
Be counted yourself at any time that might be done
To cultivate the marsh, to irrigate the riverbank fields
To ferry sand to west or east
I am doing it, see, I am here, you are to say”

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

Weight 174.1 g
Dimensions L 5 x W 3 x H 17 cm



Reference: For similar: Liverpool World Museum, UK, item M13875

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