The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
African; North African; Egyptian
Ancient Egypt Africa,North Africa,Egypt
Shawabty of Nebseni
New Kingdom, early Dynasty 18, c. 1570 B.C.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
Wood (tamarisk), pigment
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.
H.: 28.2 cm (10-3/4 in.); W.: 8.2 cm (3-1/4 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
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.
Related Image Identifier Link: