Ancient Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, 21st to 25th Dynasty, ca. 1070 to 664 BCE. A wonderful cache of thirty mold-formed faience ushabti (or shabtis) of roughly the same size and form. Each ushabti stands in mummiform with fused legs and holds a pick and hoe in arms crossed atop the chest. The softened faces bear ovoid eyes and petite noses, and a column of hieroglyphic text is presented in front of the legs. The similarities between the faint inscriptions as well as the blue-green glazing suggests that these ushabtis came from the same tomb. Size of largest: 0.8" W x 2.9" H (2 cm x 7.4 cm)
Shabti (or ushabti) dolls are figures shaped like adult male or female mummies wearing 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, which was required by all members of society, from workers to pharaohs. The wealthier nobility in Egyptian society were able to have shabtis made of coveted faience, and blue faience was meant to reflect the color of the river Nile both on earth and in the afterlife.
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA, acquired around 2013; ex-Mike Sigler collection, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
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Repairs to five figures with chips and light adhesive residue along break lines, and loss to feet of one figure; remaining 24 figures are intact and very good. All items have abrasions and fading to original glaze, with light encrustations, and softening to facial details and hieroglyphs. Great remains of glaze pigment throughout.