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ID number:  ECM 1708
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Shabti of Horwedja
Object type:  Shabti
Culture:  Egyptian
Date made:  30th Dynasty (380-343 BC)
Materials:  Faience
Measurements:  overall: 26.70 cm x 7.52 cm x 4.63 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Hawara, Faiyum Oasis, Egypt

Pale blue faience shabti of Horwedja, a priest of Neith. The shabti is a typical, yet high quality, example of the 30th Dynasty, with long, striped 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. This shabti was discovered by Sir W.M.F. Petrie in the late 1800s as part of a set of 399 shabtis belonging to Horwedja within his submerged tomb in Hawara, Egypt.
Much of the original blue colour has been lost or has faded, particularly on the top half of the figure. This fading is due to water damage, which occured within the tomb. The shabti has been mounted on a base in modern times, which is inscribed with the erroneous dating of the shabti to the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.

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

Bibliography:  For background on shabtis, see, for instance, J. H. Taylor, ‘Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt’, London 2001, 112-135.

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.

Notes:  Compare also ECM 360 and 361.

For more information on the discovery of the shabtis of Horwedja, see “The Discovery and Accessioning of the Shabti of Horwedja”, by Sigrid Nilsson,

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.

The Manchester Museum has a collection of over 55 shabtis of the same Horwedja; a discussion of these figures was published in Janes, G. 2012. The Shabti Collections 5. A Selection from the Manchester Museum.

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Myers, William Joseph
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