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Lot 3a, Auction 10/12/2017: Egyptian Third Intermediate Period Blue Faience Ushabti

Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, ca. 1070 to 712 BCE. This is a very fine example of an ushabti (shabti) with a beautiful sky blue faience coating, black hair, facial features, implements, and hieroglyphic writing. It has its arms crossed over its chest and is holding hoes (for a clearer photo of a shabti holding hoes in the similar manner, see the Faience shabti of Sety I on the British Museum website). Many, like this one, are inscribed with pleas to Osiris. Size: 4.625" H (11.7 cm) + custom stand.

Shabti (or 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; blue faience was meant to reflect the color of the river Nile both on earth and in the afterlife. During later periods, people from the middle class also seem to have gained access to ushabti.

Condition: Intact and generally excellent. Section of the lower glyph band faded.

Provenance: ex-private New Jersey, USA collection

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