Tomb of Menna – TT 69 ca. 1400 BC and shabti of Djehutymose 1280 BC – Photo: VB

Rare and special shabtis

Apis bull shabtis

Bull-headed shabtis for an Apis bull from Serapeum at Saqqara. The statuettes were found near the Apis sarcophagi and may be characterised as donations.

During the 20th Dynasty, the shabtis are either human-headed or bull-headed. In the Third Intermediate Period they are in human form. In the Late Period they are human-headed with Osirian beard and mounted on a plinth like their human counterparts, but the hands are not shown and the text is simply ‘an offering which the King gives’ (see Shabtis I, Hans D. Schneider, pg. 288).

 

Apis shabti reign of Ramses II
Faience, 10.8 cm
19th Dynasty, ca. 1250 BC
Serapeum of Saqqara
Emmacha collection, 71
Photo: La Collection Emmacha Antiquités Egyptiennes. Tome 1 : Les shabtys et ouchebtys. Pg 225

Apis shabtis
Faience, 17.3 cm (Cat. 99)
19th Dynasty, ca. 1250 BC
Musée du Louvre, Paris
N 523451
Faience, 10.5 cm (Cat. 122)
19th Dynasty, ca. 1250 BC
Musée du Louvre, Paris AF 6963
Photo: Chaouabtis: Des travailleurs pharaoniques pour l’éternité

Apis shabtis reign of Ramses XI
Faience
Found in Serapeum of Saqqara by Mariette
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Photo: Le sérapéum de Memphis, découvert et décrit par Auguste Mariette (1857)

Baboon-headed shabtis

Intriguing shabtis with well-detailed baboon heads.

Christies writes “…  a single column of finely carved hieroglyphs along the front, reading: “Instructions of the Osiris Hapy, Overseer of the Cattle of Amun, Djehutymose (Thutmose), Justified,” another on the back, reading: “May your face be revealed (or your sight be opened) that you may behold Re, King’s Scribe and Overseer of the Cattle of Amun, Djehutymose, Justified”.

For full documentation with photos of the sides of this series, also known as Thutmose, see Uschebti – Arbeiter im Ägyptischen Totenreich 1993,
Schlögl, Hermann A. – Christa Meves-Schlögl, pg. 14-17.

 

 

Djehutymose
King’s Scribe and Overseer of the Cattle of Amun
Limestone, 26.7 cm
19th Dynasty, ca. 1280 BC
Christies, New York Sale 2565, June 2012 Lot 12
Photo: Christies

 

Djehutymose
King’s Scribe and Overseer of the Cattle of Amun
Limestone, 27.4 cm
19th Dynasty, ca. 1280 BC
Zurich, most likely Universität Zürich Z AS L 951, published in Uschebti – Arbeiter im Ägyptischen Totenreich 1993, Schlögl, Hermann A. – Christa Meves-Schlögl, pg. 14-17.
Photo: Uschebti – Arbeiter im Agyptischen Totenreich

Djehutymose (back)
Photo: Uschebti – Arbeiter im Ägyptischen Totenreich

 

Djehutymose
Faience
19th Dynasty, ca. 1280 BC
The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art
Photo: NH 2017

 

Headless shabtis

Shabti in the form of the headless Osiris made in three pieces, the torso and feet fitting with pegs into the holes in the middle piece (see Shabtis II, Hans D. Schneider, pg 94).

The owner of this shabti identifies himself with Osiris, whose body is magically recovered after his brother Seth has dismembered it.

 

Headless shabti
Without name
Alabaster and glass, 18 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1360 BC
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO), Leiden F 1955/10.3, Schneider 3.2.9.16
Photo: Rob Koopman

Headless shabti
Without name
Alabaster and glass, 16 cm
19th Dynasty, ca. 1360 BC
Cairo Museum 48331
Photo: Newberry, Percy E., Funerary Statuettes and Model Sarcophagi Vol III pl. XVI

Listening shabtis

These strange shabtis seem to hold their left hand behind the ear, as if to boost their hearing (see Hermann A. Schlögl / Andreas Brodbeck, Ägyptische Totenfiguren aus öffentlichen und privaten Sammlungen der Schweiz, pg. 45.).
Only known from this series and period.

Some scholars doubt the theory of the raised arms and assume it is simply the way that the lappets of the wig happen to fall. Future research will probably solve this issue.

 

Without name
Terracotta, prob. 11.5 cm
18th Dynasty, 1450 BC
Unknown collection
Photo: unknown

 

Without name
Terracotta, 9.5 cm
18th Dynasty, 1450 BC
British Museum EA21872
Photo: Tim Haines

 

Double shabtis

Both shabtis are carved from a single piece of stone and are standing together on a pedestal, resting against a plateau. The shabtis depict a man and a woman. They can be husband and wife, but also son and mother.

 

Benermerut and Ikhem (mother)
Reign of Thutmose III
Possibly serpentine, 22.4 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1450 BC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 44.4.73
Photo: MMA NY

 

Khaemwaset and Mesyt
Limestone, 22 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1300 BC
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 22.9.6
Photo: MMA NY

 

Without names
Limestone
18th Dynasty, ca. 1380 BC
British Museum EA49343
Photo: Tim Haines

Shabtis on a bier

In the Louvre specimen (see photo) the man and the woman are lying side by side on a bier. The specimen to the right depicts a single person. A Ba-bird is sitting next to the mummy, protecting it by putting an arm with extended hand on it. A small figure stands by the foot, watching the mummy/mummies. On the Louvre specimen to the right, a Nephtis crown is visible (behind the head), possibly placed on a small figure, so there is a possibility that the figure by the foot depicts Isis even though she is not wearing a crown. There is no writing on the statuettes.

The Leiden collection includes a red brick specimen. The bier has legs in the form of lion legs. A small female figure is standing by the foot, arms upraised and hands placed on the foot of the bier. She is wearing a long wig and a long, finely detailed garment (see Shabtis II, Hans D. Schneider, pg. 91).

 

Without names, Hardstone, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1375 BC, Musée du Louvre, Paris N2659, N2660, Photo: VB

Mery-Mery, sandstone, 18.5 cm. 18th Dynasty, ca. 1360 BC. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO), Leiden L.VII.14, Schneider 3.2.9.4. Photo: VB

Shabtis grinding grain

Taking these special shabtis with them was probably a privilege of the highest class serving under the king, most likely Amenhotep III. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden, the Netherlands, has three special specimens of ‘the guardian of the treasury’ Mery-Mery. Two of them are male, one is female. The Brooklyn specimen also seems female to me.

The Brooklyn Museum website notes: ‘The royal scribe Senenu appears here bent over a large grinding stone. This unusual sculpture seems to be an elaborate version of a shabti, a funerary figurine placed in the tomb to work in place of the deceased in the hereafter. The hieroglyphic text included Senenu’s claim to a blessed afterlife by virtue of his proper behaviour toward the king and gods.’

 

Senenu, Limestone, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1350 BC, Brooklyn Museum, New York 37.120E. Photo: Brooklyn Museum

Shabtis with a basket on their head

Ushabti of a woman carrying a basket on her head. Only known from the Napatan region (Sudan) and this period.

Without name
Napatan Queen
Faience
Wife of pharaoh of Chabataka
702 – 690 BC
Bulletin Museum of Fine Arts, Boston June 1951, XLIX, 40-48.
25th Dynasty, ca. 680 BC
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Photo: MFA, Boston

Without name
Pottery, 6.3 cm
25th Dynasty, ca. 680 BC
German private collection
Photo: Julian Fass

Amulet shabtis

Little is known about these small shabti amulets. They are drilled through vertically and are probably part of the clothing, the mummy, and/or a net or a chain.

Faience, ca. 3 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1340 BC
NationalMuseet, Kopenhagen
Photo: VB

Faience, 2.5 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1340 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Faience,  estimated 2.5-3.0 cm
18th Dynasty, ca. 1340 BC
Egyptian Museum Cairo
Photo: VB

Glass shabtis

Shabtis made of glass are extremely rare. A few other glass shabtis are to be found in Cairo and London

Thutmose III
Glass, 9.5 cm
18th Dynasty, 1450 BC
This shabti is probably the earliest known example made of glass. The current owner is researching the piece. At present no other example is known for this king with which it could be compared
Private collection UK
Photo: GJ

Iay
Glass or Egyptian blue, 18.6 cm
18th Dynasty, 1380 BC
British Museum, London
EA 34005
Photo: British Museum

Bronze shabtis

Only for a few persons bronze shabtis are known. In the 18th dynasty for some private persons, in the 19th a hollow casted one for Ramses II, in the 20th dynasty five solid cast shabtis for Ramses III and in the 21st dynasty series small ones for pharaoh Psusennes I, his wife Mutnodjmet and his General Undjebauendjed

Hesmeref
Bronze, 24 cm
18th Dynasty, 1380 BC
Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Lisbon no. 166
Photo: VB

Ramses II
Bronze, 15 cm
18th Dynasty, 1213 BC
Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin no. 2502
Photo: Internet (most likely from Royal Bronze Shawabti Figures by Peter A. Clayton)

Ramses III
Bronze, 12.5 cm
20th Dynasty, 1151 BC
Musée du Louvre, Paris N656A/B
Photo: VB

Psusennes I (Pasebakhenniut I)
Pharaoh worker and overseer
Bronze, ca. 8 cm
21st Dynasty, 991 BC
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1961.171, 1964.203
Photo: VB

Mutnodjmet
Wife of Psusennes I
Bronze, worker 8,3 cm,
overseer 6.9 cm
21st Dynasty, ca. 980 BC
Worker Dutch private collection, overseer Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneve 23477
Photo: Worker JT, overseer unknown

Undjebauendjed
General
Bronze, worker 9.1 cm,
21st Dynasty, 945 BC
overseer 10 cm
Worker Dutch private collection, overseer Aubert collection
Photo worker: JT
Photo overseer: Tanis, L’or des pharaons pg. 132-133

Various peculiar shabtis

 

Soter
Faience with text in Greek
Ptolemaic Period, ca. 100 BC
British Museum, London
EA 30769
Photo: VB

Without name
Pottery
??th Dynasty
Mystery item German Art Market 2010
Photo: VB

Without name
Pottery
??th Dynasty
Mystery item German Art Market 2010
Photo: VB

Nude worker?
Faience,  estimated ca. 8 cm
21st Dynasty, ca. 1000 BC
Egyptian Museum Cairo
Photo: Tim Haines

Worker
Material?,  estimated ca. 6 cm
21st-25th Dynasty?
Egyptian Museum Cairo
Photo: VB

Function unknown to me
Terracotta, 19.5 cm
19-20th Dynasty, ca. 1200-1100 BC
Auction Millon & Associés Archeologie & Prehistoire, 4 December 2015 Lot 196
Photo: VB

Shabti?
Wax with golden mask, 12 cm
19th – 20th Dynasty?
Private collection UK
Photo: GJ