Egyptian ushabti of “Ipethemes” in green faience, Din . XXVI

The ushabtis were the servants in the deceased´s afterlife. Egyptians thought that during the afterlife, life was just like it had been in earth, where everybody was also going to keep the same status and work. Once the ba (soul) has taken its shape in the new body, or the sahu or ank if it is a pharaoh, the deseased must awake these servants with a specific text cited in chapter VII of the Book of the Dead. The ushabtis were figurines that represented mummified people and were destined to serve the deceased in the afterlife. For this reason the translation that is usually made of the word is "those who answer" They used to be made of faience (glazed ceramics), semiprecious stones or wood. Their mission was thus to serve the deceased in the Egyptian afterlife, even, following the belief that earthly life followed in death, therefore also demanding work. So if, for example, one was a baker in the other, it would also be a baker and if he was part of the elite, he would continue keeping his status in death. They used to be free of decoration. From the 12th dynasty, the name and titles of the person to whom they were destined were recorded on the front. However, during the 18th and later dynasty, this custom changed, and then chapter 6 of the "Book of the Dead ", which contains precisely the" Ritual for a shabti to execute the works for someone in the Hereafter" The position of shabtis in the tombs was not something uniform: sometimes, they were placed directly on the mummy; other times, they were placed next to the coffin or sarcophagus of the deceased; many were scattered on the floor, or deposited in a special niche dug into one of the walls of the burial chamber; and in the case of high officials or the pharaohs themselves, a large number of them were introduced into special coffers or boxes (called chapels), which had a rectangular plan and a vaulted lid, being richly decorated among other elements with false doors through shabtis could enter or exit magically.


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