Egyptian Faience Ushabti: Nesankhefmaat

An ancient Egyptian blue faience ushabti; the mummiform figure wears a tripartite wig and beard with crossed hands holding hoes and seed bag; the painted vertical inscription reads, “The Osiris, God’s servant of Amun, Nesankhefmaat.”

Third Intermediate Period
Ca. 1069 - 664 BC.
Height: 5 in. (12.5 cm).

Shabtis were first introduced in the Middle Kingdom as substitutes for the the mummy in case it was destroyed. During the Second Intermediate Period inscribed wooden figures called shawabtis (after the Egyptian word for wood, shawab) began to be placed in tombs. During the New Kingdom, shabtis assumed a new role as servant figures for the deceased. They were now depicted with agricultural equipment. By the Third Intermediate Period, the number of shabtis placed in the tomb was set at 401 (365 workers and 36 overseers). During the Late Period the tomb figures became known as ushabtis (‘answerers’), these figures represented servants who would magically answer when called upon to perform agricultural duties for the Pharaoh (in the form of Osiris) in the afterlife. Their main function was to ensure the individual’s comfort and freedom from daily labor in the next life.

cf.: for an ushabti of the same individual in the British Museum inventory number EA32717, found at Abydos, donated by the Egyptian Exploration Fund in 1900.
Formerly in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inventory number RES.22.18.
Inv#: 8680
Guaranteed Authentic


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