Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, ca. 712 to 332 BCE. A tall faience ushabti (shabti) of an absolutely gorgeous, very pale blue color. The ushabti is very detailed, with nine registers of hieroglyphs wrapped around the front of its legs and well-rendered farming implements in its crossed arms. The face similarly has a high level of detail, including wave lines on the false beard and clearly delineated earrings. Size: 1.5" W x 6.5" H (3.8 cm x 16.5 cm)
Ushabti dolls are figures shaped like adult male or female mummies wearing the traditional ancient Egyptian headdresses. The ancient Egyptians believed that after they died, their spirits would have to work in the "Field of Reeds" owned by the god of the underworld, Osiris. This meant doing agricultural labor -- and it was required by all members of society, from workers to pharaohs. The wealthier nobility in Egyptian society were able to have shabtis made of faience; blue faience was meant to reflect the color of the river Nile both on earth and in the afterlife. The hieroglyphic inscriptions gave the shabti their power, telling Osiris that they were to do work for him.
Provenance: private Kahn collection
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