Egyptian Shabti Research Paper

1130 Words 5 Pages
Cultural Context and Meaning of Egyptian Shabtis
Huiyun Wu
Nov. 30th, 2015
African Art History

Shabti, sometimes called Shawabti or Ushabti, is a sort of mummy shape funerary figurine that is designated to serve the deceased in the afterlife in Ancient Egypt from around 2000BC. They are servants that answer “Here I am” when called by the wealthy owner, who continued their afterlife in the netherworld. Placing shabtis in the coffin is a method to indicate the power and wealthiness the departed owned.
Through the appearance of the turquoise faience shabti, social status of the shabtis can be revealed. Most of shabtis were produced in either late period or Ptolemaic dynasty in Ancient Egypt. Although the outline of it was obscured since it was produced between 713-30 BCE, it is nevertheless easy to observe that the body is covered by several layers of linens, which forms it a mummy, and the facial features are still recognizable.
The head of the shabti is lowered to show its respect and submission to its proprietor. Together with the fact that only upper class ancient Egyptians were able to include these faience statues in their coffins magnifies the power and wealth of the master again.
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Content of the sixth chapter of The Book of The Dead reveals the purpose of the shabtis again:
Oh! Ye Ushabti [another name for shabti], if there be any labors to be done by the Osiris in the other world let all obstructions be cast down before him. Be ye ready always to plough and sow the fields, to fill the canals with water, and to carry sand from the east to the west.” Then the Shabtis reply: “When thou callest here we are.”(Nash 37)
Another example is that there were three shabtis found in the grave of a high-rank ancient Egyptian official named AMiotep, “Two of the shabtis were inscribed with his name” (Lobell

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