Egyptian wood ushabti, New Kingdom, 1539-1077 B.C.

The ushabtis are small mummiform figures representing the deceased himself, whose name means "those who respond" since they would carry out those works that were ordered by their lord in the hereafter. The ushabtis arise in the Middle Empire, at the beginning they were made in persea wood.  Its rapid popularization caused that they began to be made in series, by means of other simpler and less manual techniques that allowed to cover the demand. In some tombs you could find up to 365 for the day and 365 for the night, so that their lord, the deceased, would not lack help for all eternity. These ushabtis could be arranged in boxes or even one representing them all. These boxes became very common as they reinforced the magical power of the servants. The ancient Egyptians believed in the magic of sculptures and words, so for them these magical figures would accompany them to their eternal life and once there they would come to life and serve him faithfully. This ushabti, with arms crossed on the chest and a long tripartite wig, is undoubtedly a unique piece made of wood, with the charm of simplicity and warmth of this material, devoid of any decoration that hides its beautiful lines of carving.


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