Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, ca. 1077 to 943 BCE. An ushabti (shabti), made of faience that is a beautiful sky blue color, painted with black details - hairline, eyes, brows, and hoe. The wealthier nobility in Egyptian society were able to have ushabtis made of faience like this example, and blue faience was meant to reflect the color of the river Nile both on earth and in the afterlife. Ushabtis' role was to perform the laborious task of farming Osiris's fields after death in lieu of their deceased owner. A full set of ushabtis had 365 workers, one for each day of the year, and thirty-six overseers who were responsible for coordinating the workers. Size: 1.75" W x 4.25" H (4.4 cm x 10.8 cm)
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. For this reason ushabti 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 and holding agricultural implements.
Provenance: private A.G. collection, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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