Year: 664-332 a.C.
Dimension: Higth 17 cm
Late Period, 664-332 BC A large blue glazed shabti with black detailing to the wig, eyes, beard and implements; square base and plain dorsal pillar. Acquired on the London art market in the 1970s; property of a North London collector by descent.
Shabti figures developed from the servant figures common in tombs of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1782 BC). They were shown as mummified like the deceased, with their own coffin. The shabti figure became regarded as a servant figure that would carry out heavy work on behalf of the deceased. They were inscribed with a spell which made them answer when the deceased was called to work. The name 'shabti' means 'answerer.' From the end of the New Kingdom, anyone who could afford to do so had a workman for every day of the year, complete with an overseer figure for each gang of ten labourers. This gave a total of 401 figures, though many individuals had several sets.