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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Faience Ushabti of the 26th Dynasty
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Faience Ushabti of the 26th Dynasty - PF.9100 (LSO)
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 664 BC to 525 BC
Dimensions: 8.25" (21.0cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian Antiquities
Medium: Faience
Condition: Extra Fine


Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Description
This striking ushabti dates to the 26th dynasty, which is notable for being the last indigenous dynasty prior to the conquest by Persia in 525-4 BC. The period was characterised by strife as the Assyrians, Babylonians and the Lydians – and even Greece and Caria – became involved in a power struggle to control Egypt, to reunify her and to resist imperial advances. Reunification was achieved under Psammetichus I, although Egyptian imperial power was not what it had been. Once Nineveh fell in 612 BC, Egypt’s attempts to reassert her dominion in the Middle East failed at the hands of the Persian king Cambyses, who took the last king – Psammetichus III – to Susa in irons.

Despite these upheavals, however, Egyptian religion and funerary practice did not significantly alter. The pomp and ceremony that characterised Old Kingdom interments had been perpetuated, burying representations of assistants, animals and all the other accoutrements one might need for the hereafter with the deceased. Ushabtis are perhaps the best-known of these grave goods. Ushabti can be translated as “the answerer,” a term directly related to its function in the afterlife. Initially, only one ushabti was interred with the deceased, but by the New Kingdom, it became the custom to inter hundreds of ushabti to act as slaves, much as their human counterparts did in the real world. The number of figures, and the materials from which they were made, depended on the individual's wealth.

The function of these little figures is described in Chapter VI of the Book of the Dead: "O this Ushabti! If (the deceased) is called upon to do hard labour in the hereafter, say thou: I am here." The ushabti was expected to answer the call to work in place of the deceased, and this passage was frequently inscribed on the figures themselves, as in the current case. This elegant ushabti holds two flails, one in each hand. It is bound as a mummy, with headwear and artificial beard in position. Blue and green faience – essentially modelled glass- were prized and valuable materials, considered worthy even for kings. This piece was therefore intended for an elite interment. The design is slim and well- modelled, with a sensitive and serene face, carefully-incised hair and the hieroglyphics clearly visible across the front of the figure. It stands upon an integral pedestal base which extends up the back to the level of the shoulders. This is an exceptionally fine example of a faience ushabti, which would complement any serious collection of Egyptian antiquities. - (PF.9100 (LSO))

 

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