Monday, October 13, 2008

Ushabti of the Chief Sculptor, Men

Ushabti of the Chief Sculptor, Men
c. 1375 BCE
RC 2084
Fine limestone, pigment

This statuette of a man, named “Men” may have belonged to the father-and-son team of Men and Bak, who were court sculptors for the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and later his son, King Akhenaten and is one of the finest surviving examples of a miniature mummiform statuette.

This large, brightly colored figure is a fine example of how most Egyptian statuary originally looked. The beautiful color on this ushabti has survived intact for over three thousand years. The paint on most surviving Egyptian statues has worn away.

The word ushabti is ancient Egyptian and may also be seen written as shabti, ushebtis or shawabtis. Ushabti may have been derived from the Egyptian word Swb, "stick" originally, and perhaps reinterpreted as from Egyptian word wSb "answer," or "respond" in the first millennium BCE.

Ushabtis are small figures in human form inscribed with a special formula to be recited, most often from the Book of the Dead, or of figures representing the function expressed in that spell, namely, to carry out heavy manual tasks on behalf of a person in the afterlife.

This ushabti holds work tools in its hands and is inscribed with chapter 6 from the Book of the Dead and is currently on display in The Akhenaten Shrine Gallery (D) in the Rosicrucian Egyptian museum.

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