Egyptian faience ushabti for Khaemwaset, New Empire, 19th dinasty, Ramses the 2nd Kingdom, 1279-1213 B.C.

Material:  Faience
Conservation:  Intact
Material:  Faience
Dimensions:  15,8 x 5,3 cm
Provenance:  Collection Dr. L. Benguerel Godó, Barcelona, adquired in London in 1960s / Archaeological Gallery, Spain, 2015/ All items that we offer for sale will be combined with an export approval issued by the ministry of the Spanish culture department and certificate of authenticity.
Exhibited:  Feriarte, IFEMA (Madrid, 16-24 November, 2019)
Ref jba121 Category Tag

Khaemwaset was a prince of Egypt. Fourth son of Pharaoh Ramses II. This ushebti figure is represented as a worker, since he wields two hoes to work in the fields of Osiris of the Hereafter. He is touched with the short wig from which a braid protrudes on the right side. He wears a curly osiríaca beard, finished in a closed curve towards the front. From his mummiform shroud that covers the whole body, only the hands stand out, crossed on the chest, holding the agricultural tools already mentioned. On the body there is a vertical register of hieroglyphic writing. This horizontal inscription translates: “Let the Osiris (priest) Sem de Ptah, Son of King, Jaemuaset, be enlightened, just of voice”.

Jaemuaset was a prince of Egypt. The fourth son of Pharaoh Ramses II and the second of his second Great Royal Wife, Queen Isis-Nefert. He is the best known of the sons of Ramses, as his contributions to Egyptian society were remembered for centuries. He has been described as the first Egyptologist due to his work in the identification and restoration of historical buildings, tombs and temples. He was High Priest of Ptah and, at the end of his life, Governor of Memphis and Crown Prince. He died at the age of 56, in the 55th year of his father’s reign. His tomb is probably in Saqqara, where some remains that may belong to it were found. His tomb was found by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette during the first exploration of the Serapeum of Saqqara, between 1851 and 1853. He had to fly with explosives a large rock, and discovered an intact coffin, with the mummy covered with his gold mask and jewelry containing his name: Jaemuaset son of Ramses and builder of the Serapeum. These remains have been lost, and Egyptologists believe that this was not Jaemuaset’s tomb but the remains of an Apis bull converted into a human form to resemble that of the Prince.

But it is really known for its priestly functions and restoration of temples and sanctuaries. He became a priest of Ptah in Memphis, being the High Priest Huy. During his time as a priest he participated in various rituals, such as the burial of the Apis bulls in the Serapeum of Saqqara. He remodeled the Serapeum, building an underground gallery with several funerary chambers that would allow the burial of several Apis bulls. When he was High Priest, he enlarged the temple of Ptah in Memfis, as several inscriptions testify. Jaemuaset restored the monuments of former kings and nobles, not in vain the High Priest of Ptah was the Master of the Craftsmen. Texts with data on the restoration have been found in the pyramid of Unis in Saqqara, the mastaba of Shepseskaf, the solar temple of Nyuserra, the pyramid of Sahura, the stepped pyramid of Zoser, and the pyramid of Userkaf. He also restored a statue of Prince Kauab, son of Jufu, and inscribed his name and work on the throne of Jufu.

Auguste Mariette, found in the Serapeum ushebti figures of Khaemwaset in limestone, steatite and fayenza, which today are preserved in the Louvre Museum. These ushebtis and those belonging to other royal figures of the reign of Ramses II, as well as high priests of Ptah in Menphis, have come to light in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century and are preserved in private collections and museums such as the Antiken Museum in Basel, the Royal Museum in Brussels, and the National Museum of Antiquities in Lieden. The ushebtis were modelled from a bivalve original. Then the burr was removed from the joint, and when the paste was still wet the details of the image were retouched and the registers on which the signs of the writing were engraved were distributed. The ushebtis, an Egyptian term meaning “those who respond”, were figures representing the deceased himself; they appeared in the Middle Empire and their use became popular during the New Empire, they were part of the funeral trousseau. On his body was placed chapter VI of the Book of the Dead, referring to these figures, or a very simple version with the name and titles of the deceased.

Its use allowed the owner to enjoy the Mas Allá and the ushebti acted as a worker, substituting its owner in the work of the Aaru fields, the Egyptian paradise, since the Egyptians thought that the spirits of these figures would work for them in the afterlife and thus obtain their sustenance. The ushebtis placed in the trousseau were 365 figurines, one for each day of the year. In addition, 36 foremen could be added, who commanded each of the crews composed of 10 workers, to avoid possible revolts. These figures could be arranged in a wooden box for this purpose, or in many cases placed in a group in a place near the sarcophagus. In Late Times these figurines were mass-produced, increasing their number and use in the tombs of that period.

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