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ID number:  ECM 361
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Shabti of a Priest
Object type:  Shabti
Culture:  Egyptian
Date made:  Twenty-Sixth Dynasty (664-525 BC)
Materials:  Faience
Measurements:  overall: 16.86 cm x 4.41 cm x 2.85 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Unknown

Pale blue faience shabti. The shabti is a typical example of the 26th Dynasty, with a long tripartite wig and an artificial plaited beard. The face is large and plain, with plain lips and eyebrows. The ears are quite large and not exactly at the same level. The crossed arms are not visible, but the hands are clear and bear the typical agricultural implements (hoes, type C according to Schneider 1977: 169) required to fulfil the work described in the shabti spell.

Traces of light blue glaze are visible on the wig, face, beard, hands, the lower part of the back pillar and the base.

The inscription (the shabti spell, chapter 6 of the ‘Book of the Dead’) is carved in framed lines running around the body, beginning immediately under the line of the arms, and also covering the feet. The back of the shabti is supported by an undecorated back pillar (Schneider 1977: vol. 3, fig 18, no. 3b).

Inscriptions / Translations:  Shabti spell.

Bibliography:  On Shabtis, see:
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 ECM 360 and 1708.

Dating is based on stylistic criteria such as the plaited beard combined with the plain tripartite wig; cf. Schneider 1977: vol. 1, 167 and vol. 3, fig. 11, no. 36.

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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