A Magnificent Miniature Egyptian Limestone Head, possibly from an Ushabti wearing a tripartite wig tucked behind ears, thick pouting lips long oval face with pointed chin, New Kingdom Dynasty XVIII, 1550 - 1307 BCE. Ex: Archaeological Center, Jerusalem. Found in the Holy Land. 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 2", on custom wooden stand 4 1/4" high. Museum quality and in excellent condition.
During the Predynastic and Early Dynastic Period there is some evidence of the sacrificial burial of servants with the deceased. However, this practice was quickly seen as unnecessary and wasteful, and instead symbolic images of servants were painted inside tombs to aid the deceased in the afterworld. This practice developed into the use of small statuettes known as Shabti (Shabtiu, Shabty, Shawabti or Ushabti). A Shabti is a small human figure representing a person who would perform a given task for the deceased in the afterlife. The Amduat (underworld) included tracts of land granted to the deceased by the sun god Ra from which the blessed dead could receive their nourishment. Unsurprisingly, wealthy nobles and royalty did not plan on doing any work themselves and so they would take their (symbolic) servants with them. Early versions (Shabti or Shabtiu) were modelled to represent the task that they would perform and given tiny tools etc with which to complete their tasks. Later on Shawabti (and Ushabti) were inscribed with a magical formula which would activate them (see below). Shabti were made from various materials including; faience, wax, clay, wood, stone, terracotta and, occasionally, glass and bronze.