Detail View: The AMICA Library: Shawabty of Nebseni

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Name: 
Creator Nationality: 
African; North African; Egyptian
Creator Dates/Places: 
Ancient Egypt Africa,North Africa,Egypt
Creator Name-CRT: 
Shawabty of Nebseni
Title Type: 
front view
Creation Date: 
New Kingdom, early Dynasty 18, c. 1570 B.C.
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Wood (tamarisk), pigment
Classification Term: 
Subject Description: 
A shawabty (also called a ushebti or shabti) is a mummiform statuette that was thought to be able to serve the deceased in the afterlife. Here, the simplified rendering of the human figure represents the body of Nebseni in his mummy wrappings. This representation, as well as the presence of the false beard, stresses Nebseni's association with the god Osiris, the principal deity of the afterlife. The finely incised and pigment-filled inscription is a version of chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead. Suppliesof these funerary figures were placed in tombs, often as many as one for each day of the year, along with a group of thirty-six overseers. Many shawabty statuettes are supplied with representations of seed baskets, picks, and hoes with which to accomplish their duties.
Creation Place: 
Africa,North Africa,Egypt
H.: 28.2 cm (10-3/4 in.); W.: 8.2 cm (3-1/4 in.)
AMICA Contributor: 
The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: 
Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Henry H. Getty and Charles L. Hutchinson
Inscription: O [thou] ushabti whom N. has instructed, lo, obstacles have been set up for him yonder. If (N.) is counted off for any work that is to be done in the god's domain, as a man to his duties,to cultivate the fields, to irrigate the shores, to transport sand of the east (and) of the west, 'Here am I' shalt [tyou] say.The inscription indicates that Nebseni served as a scribe for a woman who held the title 'God Wife,' the rank of a priestess who was considered to be married to the god she served.
Shawabtys appeared in Dynasty 13 (c. 1784 B.C.), and they continued to be a feature of mortuary furnishings through the Ptolemaic era.
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