Year: 664-332 a.C.
Dimension: Higth 13 cm
XXVI-XXX Dynasty, 664-332 B.C. A pale cream glazed composition shabti with finely modelled facial features, tripartite wig, false beard, crossed hands with tools and seed bag to the shoulder; dorsal pillar and square base; vertical band of hieroglyphs to the legs and a horizontal one to the waist. Property of a North London gentleman; previously in a French collection; acquired before 1980.
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.