Egyptian faience ushabti, Late Period, 600-300 B.C.

It is a ushabti, that is to say, a representation of the deceased himself in miniature, in this case represented from the most common typology: the mummiform. Ushabtis appeared in the Middle Empire and its use became popular during the New Empire as part of the funeral trousseau. But, above all, we will find many belonging to the Low Period, as it coincides with the moment when they began to be carved massively, increasing their number in the tombs of that period. They were destined to serve the deceased in the Afterlife; hence their more direct translation as "those who respond". The ushebtis placed in the trousseau were a total of 365 figurines, one to serve the deceased every day of the year. In addition, 36 foremen could be added, who commanded each of the squads composed of 10 workers, to avoid possible revolts. Their arrangement in the tombs was not uniform, as sometimes they were placed directly on the mummy, while at other times they were placed next to the coffin or sarcophagus; in a special niche, or special chests/boxes (called chapels), which had a rectangular floor plan and a vaulted lid, as well as being widely decorated with false doors through which the ushebtis could magically enter and exit. As usual, there is a wide trajectory and evolution in the aesthetic conception of ushabtis. If we look at their physical appearance we can classify them into mummies (our case), dressed in everyday clothes, and foremen. In general, they tend to have this shape, although as it has been specified those who were considered as crew leaders, a skirt was included to identify them. In their hands they used to carry farming tools, and on some occasions they could even hang from their backs bags to keep the seed they had to sow, containers to carry water, moulds to make bricks, and even amulets.


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