Egyptian Green Faience Ushabti of Si-Ast
An ancient Egyptian light green faience ushabti. The mummiform figurine wears a tripartite wig, his crossed hands hold hoes, a seed bag hangs from his back. The Hieroglyphic inscription in five lines names the owner, "Si-Ast, Priest of Bastet, born to Ast-Iy."
26th Dynasty, ca. 664 - 525 BC.
Shabtis were first introduced in the Middle Kingdom as substitutes for the the mummy in case it was destroyed. During the Second Intermediate Period inscribed wooden figures called shawabtis (after the Egyptian word for wood, shawab) began to be placed in tombs. During the New Kingdom, shabtis assumed a new role as servant figures for the deceased. They were now depicted with agricultural equipment. By the Third Intermediate Period, the number of shabtis placed in the tomb was set at 401 (365 workers and 36 overseers). During the Late Period the tomb figures became known as ushabtis ('answerers'), these figures represented servants who would magically answer when called upon to perform agricultural duties for the Pharaoh (in the form of Osiris) in the afterlife. Their main function was to ensure the individual's comfort and freedom from daily labor in the next life.
Formelry in a Washington State private collection, acquired from Royal-Athena Galleries, New York in 1994.