Painted wooden shabti box of Nesytanebettawy

From Bab el-Gasus, Thebes, Egypt
New Kingdom or later, after 1550 BC

The 'singer of Amun'

Throughout the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) the number of shabti figures which were placed in a burial increased. During the Third Intermediate Period (about 1070-661 BC) it became common to have a shabti for every day of the year, with an 'overseer' for every 10 workers. This gave a total of 401 shabti figures in a set, and more than one set could be provided.

From the late New Kingdom, shabti figures were mass-produced using moulds, often consisting of several different types. Faience was the favoured material. It could be moulded easily, and coloured blue or green to symbolize regeneration. Clay or mud was often used to produce large numbers of cheaper shabti, sometimes painted to appear like faience.

This vast number of shabti figures was managed by placing them in a box. This was perhaps derived from the coffins provided for the single shabti of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC). This painted box is divided into three compartments. The curved lids and tall partitions resemble details of the coffins of the later Third Intermediate Period. The inscription on the side of the box below each lid gives the name of the owner of the shabti figures, who is identified with Osiris, god of the dead.

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Height: 44.500 cm
Length: 55.000 cm
Width: 29.500 cm

Museum number

EA 24894


Gift of the Egyptian Government


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