Ushabtis

Egyptian

originals

date: see below, if known

provenance: see below, if known

description:

#1: Gift of Mr. John L. George. Date and provenance unknown. Original ushabti of green faience. Mummiform shape. Hieroglyphs inscribed on back. Height 11 cm, width 2.5 cm, depth 1 cm.

#2: Bequest of W.A.S. Sarjeant. Date: New Kingdom. Purchased by donor; was found in a child's tomb excavated in Carthage in 1944. Original ushabti of green faience. Hieroglyphics inscribed on back. Mummiform shape. Height 8 cm, width 2 cm, depth 1 cm.

#3: Bequest of W.A.S. Sarjeant. Date: New Kingdom. Purchased by donor; was found in a child's tomb excavated in Carthage in 1944. Original ushabti of green faience, now blackened. Hieroglyphs inscribed front and back. Mummiform shape. Height 14.5 cm, width 4.5 cm, depth 3 cm..

#4: Gift of Prof. Thurston Lacalli. Date and provenance unknown. Original ushabti of blue faience. Mummiform shape. Height 4 cm.

#5: Gift of the Minden Family. Date: 1st c. CE. Syro-Palestine or Egypt. Pale green faience with added brown. Height 6.2 cm, diameter 2.2 cm.

Shabtis or shawabtis were mummy-like servant figurines. In pre-dynastic times real servants were sometimes buried with their masters. By the time of the New Kingdom, people were buried with all-purpose shawabtis (meaning persea-wood figures) instead. These later came to be called ushabtis or shabtis. It was thought that in the afterlife a ushabti would come to life when called and perform the duties demanded of the dead person. Therefore, most are inscribed with the name of the dead.

(See also: Canopic Figures; False Door.)