Egypt, Late Dynastic Period. 26th Dynasty, ca. 672 to 525 BCE. Tall turquoise ushabti for a man called Ankh-em-maat, who was a sa-mery-ef ("his beloved son") priest of the god Herishef at Herakleopolis. Depicted mummiform, with smiling expression, hands holding crook and flail, wearing a striated tripartite wig and braided beard and with 10 lines of hieroglyphic inscription. An exceptional example - ex-Sotheby's! Size: 7.375" H (18.7 cm)
An inscription consisting of several lines with hieroglyphs covers the body of the shabti from its arms to the feet, and translates "He was prophet of Herichef a ram headed god who was revered in the Heracleopolis area". Shabti were placed in tombs as grave goods, created to do manual labor for the deceased in the afterlife. As a result, they are frequently depicted with arms crossed, holding agricultural tools, and baskets. Towards the end of the Pharaonic period, they had become so necessary and elaborate that some tombs contained one worker for every day of the year and thirty-six overseers, each responsible for ten laborers. Workers like this one are from that period of enormous proliferation, and are some of our best surviving insights into ancient Egyptian funerary practices. Some, like this one, are inscribed with pleas to Osiris.
Provenance: Ex-private Virginia collection, acquired in 1981. Ex. Sotheby's New York, June 12 1993
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