A rare ancient Egyptian hand carved wooden ushabti dating to the New Kingdom, around 1250 BC. With schematic features and traces of painted decoration, this is a large, genuine example.
Of a pleasing, slender appearance, the figure is depicted in mummiform, with the arms crossed over the chest. The tripartite wig painted in dark green, remnants of pigment also remain on the upper chest, possibly depicting a large wesekh collar which would have covered the upper part of the body.
Worn by the passing of time, this piece has lost its fine detail and gained a striking visual sense of flowing, indistinct form that one associates with the linen wrapped mummies themselves.
Hand carved wooden shabtis were of course far more costly and labour intensive than the standard mass produced pottery forms from this period. As such we can be sure this fascinating artefact was commissioned by an individual of substantial means.
The shabti was a funerary figure, placed in the tombs of wealthy individuals that, on account of its human appearance and hieroglyphic text identifying it, would fool the gods into thinking that the shabti was the deceased. This was important as all ancient Egyptians might be required to perform menial manual labour in the afterlife if summoned. It thus became common practice among the highly religious and superstitious elite to place these figures in their burial chambers, that could be substituted for themselves if need be. A fascinating, evocative and rare piece of ancient Egyptian wooden sculpture.
Height: 7 ¼ inches.
Condition: Good, ancient varnish and bitumen remains on the surface, intact as seen.
Provenance: Ex. UK antiques dealer, ex. private collection: Devon, UK; acquired early 20th century, shown with old collection label on back.
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