Feature Object: Shabti Box of Henutmehyt, New Kingdom

Feature Object: Shabti Box of Henutmehyt, New Kingdom
The ancient Egyptians believed that the Afterlife would be very similar to that they experienced on earth, so there would be much work to be done. By the New Kingdom burial trends included shabtis, these small figures, often mass produced from blue faience, would serve as magical workers and servants to help any owner who could afford to buy some in the Afterlife.

Originally buried in individual coffins, at the height of their popularity shabtis were usually stored in special boxes like that belonging to Henutmehyt. On the box she is shown worshipping 3 of the sons of Horus who were associated with the mummification process and protection of various parts of the body which were removed during preservation of the body. Usually we would see this kind of scene on the chest containing those organs in 'canopic jars'.

Rich burials would contain a shabti for every day of the year, and even Overseer shabtis to supervise! This means that many were produced and therefore they are fairly common in the archaeological record.

These shabtis and box are made from wood covered in a thin layer of plaster and painted. Each one is painted slightly differently, and each carries a magical spell which when read by the deceased will cause them to come to life.

click the image for more information about this piece


Post a Comment

To maintain the quality of discussion, please keep comments and questions on topic.