Ancient Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th Dynasty, ca. 664 to 525 BCE. A fantastic faience ushabti figure of a tall, dignified form covered in pale turquoise glaze made for the overseer of the treasury named Psamtek, son of Bastet-iry-di-su. The figure stands in mummiform with fused legs atop an integral trapezoidal plinth, grasps the handles of a pick and hoe in arms crossed atop the chest, and has a finely delineated seed bag draped behind the left shoulder beside the dorsal pillar. His fine visage is executed with almond-shaped eyes with elongated outer canthi, a broad nose with flared nostrils, a plaited false beard, and indented mouth corners, all framed within the lappets of his gently striated tripartite wig. The abdomen and legs are wrapped with 8 full lines and 1 partial line of inscribed hieroglyphic text that provide Psamtek's name as well as an ushabti-specific spell from Chapter 6 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (or the Book of Going Forth by Day). Size: 1.7" W x 7.625" H (4.3 cm x 19.4 cm); 8.8" H (22.4 cm) on included custom stand.
This ushabti and many others like it were meant to be placed inside a tomb for Psamtek to aid them both in their journey to the afterlife as well as the duties prescribed to them. When translated, this ushabti reads, "The Illuminated, the Osiris, overseer of the treasury, Psamtek called Ahmose, son of Bastet-iry-di-su, justified, he says: O these ushabtis, if counted upon, the Osiris, overseer of the treasury, Psamtek, son of Bastet-iry-di-su, justified, to do all the works that are to be done there in the realm of the dead - now indeed obstacles are implanted there - as a man at his duties, 'here I am!' you shall say when you are counted upon at any time to serve there, to cultivate the fields, to irrigate the river banks, to ferry the sand of the west to the east and vice-versa, 'here I am' you shall say."
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 - 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; turquoise faience was meant to reflect the color of the river Nile both on earth and in the afterlife.
Cf. The Brooklyn Museum, accession number 37.166E; The British Museum, museum number EA8974 and EA57627.
This piece has been searched against the Art Loss Register database and has been cleared. The Art Loss Register maintains the world's largest database of stolen art, collectibles, and antiques.
Provenance: private West Hollywood, California, USA collection; ex-private Los Angeles, California, USA collection, gifted to their grandmother by her boss of over before 2000; excavated at Campbell's Tomb (LG 84) in 1837
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Figure is adhered to display stand and cannot be removed. Repaired from 2 large pieces across lower midsection, with small amounts of infill material and light adhesive residue along break lines. Repair and possible restoration to very small area atop feet. One stable hairline fissure extending down from crossed right hand along left side, with light pitting and encrustations, fading to glaze pigment, and minor nicks to plinth, body, and some hieroglyphs. Beautiful preservation to finer details and hieroglyphs, and light remains of glaze pigment throughout. Hieroglyphs are still clear and legible.