Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, ca. 1085 to 715 BCE. This is a shabti doll with a faience coating and black heiroglyphic markings/decoration. Its arms are crossed over its chest and are holding hoes (for a clearer photo of a shabti holding a hoe in the similar manner, see the Faience shabti of Sety I on the British Museum website). Shabti (or 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 pharoahs. The more wealthy and 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 heiroglyphic inscriptions gave the shabti their power, telling Osiris that they were to do work for him. The translation of this shabti's inscription is included with it. Size: 4-3/4"H x 1-1/4"W (12 cm x 3.2 cm).
Provenance: Ex-private H. Berk collection, Chicago, IL. Before 2005
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The bottom of the ushabti has been repaired but the piece appears intact, with some wear and minor chipping. The hieroglyphs are legible.