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ID number:  ECM 360
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Shabti of Ptahhotep
Object type:  Shabti
Culture:  Egyptian
Date made:  Twenty-Sixth Dynasty (ca. 664-525 BC)
Materials:  Faience
Measurements:  overall: 16.71 cm x 4.48 cm x 2.71 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Unknown

Pale blue faience shabti of Ptahhotep. The shabti is a typical example of the 26th Dynasty, with long, striped tripartite wig and plaited beard; a hoe in the left hand and a mattock in the right; a grain basket hanging over the right shoulder on a rope; a back pillar; and a pedestal under the feet. The shabti is inscribed with the shabti spell (text A; chapter 6 of the ‘Book of the Dead’); the text is written in hieroglyphs.

Inscriptions / Translations:  A: Shabti spell:
(1) The illuminated one, the Osiris, the overseer of the treasury [P]tahhotep, justified, son of Hornakht, he says: (2) O shabti which has been allotted, if one summons the Osiris, the overseer of the treasury, [Pta]hhotep, (3) justified, son of Hornakht, in order to do any work which is done in the (4) netherworld; indeed, (if) an obstacle is implanted there as a man at (5) his duties, 'Here I am', you shall say. If you are summoned (6) at any time to act there in order to (7) cultivate the fields, in order to flood the riverbank, to transport (8) sand (from) west to east (9) [or vice versa, 'He]re I am', you shall say.

Bibliography:  H. D. Schneider, ‘Shabtis. An introduction to the History of Ancient Egyptian Funerary Statuettes with a Catalogue of the Collection of Shabtis in the National Museum of Antiquities at Leiden’, 3 vols., Leiden 1977.
For background on shabtis, see, for instance, J. H. Taylor, ‘Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt’, London 2001, 112-135.

Notes:  Compare also ECM 361 and 1708.

Shabtis are funerary figures whose purpose was to act as a substitute for the deceased in the corvée labour required in the afterlife to produce food. They developed during the Middle Kingdom directly from the servant statuettes of the Old Kingdom. They usually display one of several variants of chapter 6 of the ‘Book of the Dead’, also known as the ‘shabti spell’, whose purpose was to enable the shabti to fulfil its duties and to answer (wesheb, a possible stem of the word shabti/ushabti) when called for the corvée labour.

A downloadable 3D Model is available here.

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Myers, William Joseph
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