Length: 18.400 cm
Gift of the
Early shabti figure in a model coffin
From the tomb of Kawit, Deir el-Bahari, Thebes,
11th Dynasty, reign of Mentuhotep II, around 2020 BC
This is one of the earliest known shabti figures. These figures were intended to work on behalf of the deceased in the Afterlife. They may have developed from the servant figures associated with the provision of offerings, common in wealthy tombs of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC).
The figure is crudely made of wax rather than the stone and faience common in later times. Wax was regarded as a protective substance, and also had links with the sun. These early shabti figures were also made of mud. They were wrapped in linen and placed in model coffins. The figures were not inscribed, but their resemblance to mummies suggest that they were intended to be substitutes for the physical body.
shabti figures are
inscribed with extracts from Chapter 6 of the
G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
J.H. Taylor, Death and Afterlife in ancient (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)