Shabti of Petosiris - ROM2019_17387_17


Shabti of Petosiris

Medium:Glazed composition (faience)
Geography: Excavated at Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 400-332 BC
Period: 29th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
12.5 × 3.65 × 2.5 cm
Object number: 910.23.47
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Shabtis are small human-form figurines placed in tombs to assist the deceased in the afterworld with corvée labour, as detailed in Spell 6 of The Book of the Dead. Some 385 shabti figurines are recorded by W.M. Flinders Petrie as being found at Abydos in Cemetery G around the tomb (G30) of a priest of Hathor and Wadjet named Petosiris. They are of three different types: 1) some 36 with inscriptions, such as on this one; 2) some 83 with dark purple-blue heads and 3) some 266 plain figures. It is possible that those with inscriptions were considered to have functioned as overseers for the other shabtis, which originally may have included one for each day of the year (only 349 of the c. 360 being preserved).

These shabtis were distributed to various museums which had supported the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) in 1902. Examples are known today in a number of Egyptological collections, for example in museums in Bolton (UK), Boston (USA), Brussels (Belgium), Cambridge (UK), Chicago (USA), Detroit (USA), Edinburgh (UK), Leiden (Netherlands), Liverpool (UK), London (British Museum and University College), Manchester (UK), Oxford (UK), as well as in the Cairo Museum (Egypt). It is expected that Charles T. Currelly would have obtained the ROM examples at this time.

Characteristic of Petosiris’ shabtis are the bright turquoise colour with the contrasting dark blue tripartite wig, the small trapezoidal plinth which connects with the back pillar which runs up to the base of the wig in the back and the distinctive curve of the pick held in his left hand. The five horizontal lines of inscription written in dark blue glaze which cover the body from below the arms to the feet translate as "O shabti who performs the work in the necropolis of Osiris, prophet of Hathor and Wadjet Petosiris ..."

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