Shabtis

Our maroon shabti was a gift from Ancient Impressions.

Our black shabti was purchased at a local market.

Shabtis (or ushabtis) are figurines commonly found in the Middle Kingdom tombs of Egypt.

Shabtis were important in the burial process, as they were believed to travel with the deceased into the afterlife and act as servants for the deceased. The wealthier or more important the deceased often the more shabtis were buried with them.

The importance of shabtis grew from 1550 BCE onwards when the deceased would need to take part in agricultural labour to maintain the ‘Field of Reeds’. The ‘Field of Reeds’ is where the deceased would be living for eternity and it was everyone’s responsibility to help maintain it by ploughing, sowing, and reaping the crops. Because of this shabtis changed slightly in appearance. Whereas previously shabtis were presented as being mummified like the deceased, shabtis were now also depicted holding tools such as hoes.

From this period onwards the goal was to be buried with 1 shabti for every day of the year and one overseer shabti to supervise every group of 10 shabtis, resulting in a total of 401 shabtis.

For the shabtis to become servants in the afterlife they, or their container, had to be inscribed with a spell to command them to come to life.

O shabti, if [the deceased] be summoned to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead, to make arable the fields, to irrigate the land, or to convey sand from east to west, ‘Here I am’, you shall say, ‘I shall do it.’

Depending on the wealth and status of the deceased the shabtis could be made of a variety of materials. Early shabtis were made from clay, wood, stone or sometimes wax. Later shabtis were made from stone, terracotta, metal, glass or faience.


Similarity to the Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. The collection is made up of over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 hourses and 150 cavalry horses, as well as acrobats, museums, and entertainers.

The purpose of the sculptures is to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlife, much like the shabtis had the responsibility of serving the deceased.

Photos of our items

These are all photos of our own items. Please remember that these items are replicas or recreations, and the photos shouldn't be used elsewhere to represent the real thing.

Photos from the real world

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