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Shabty of the Lady of the House Iuy

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Funerary Gallery 2, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
The Egyptians manufactured funerary figurines, originally called shabties, as early as Dynasty 12 (1932–1759 B.C.E.). The earliest shabties are inscribed with either the deceased’s name (see nos. 1 and 2) or a simple form of Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead. The rarity and high quality of the early shabties suggest that they were costly items produced for privileged persons.

Later, Chapter 6 began appearing more frequently on funerary figurines. The text mentions that they do agricultural tasks for the dead person: irrigating the fields, cultivating crops, and clearing away sand that blew in from the nearby desert.

As substitutes for the deceased, these figurines were sometimes given their own sarcophagi (see no. 6). To emphasize the agricultural function of the figurines, hoes and grain baskets were added to them (no. 8).

Wood (nos. 9–11), stone (nos. 12–14, 16), faience (no. 17), metal, and other materials were used beginning in Dynasty 18. By the end of the New Kingdom, statuettes for a single person were often mold-made by the hundreds and even thousands. Faience became the medium of choice, first in blue and later in light green or light blue (nos. 17, 20, 21).
MEDIUM Limestone
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539–1400 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY first half of Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 12 1/16 x 3 3/4 x 2 3/16 in. (30.6 x 9.6 x 5.5 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Limestone mummiform ushabti inscribed for a woman named Iwy. This ushabti was once probably meant to be buried in the small limestone sarcophagus 37.128E. The face is painted reddish-brown; they eyes and wig are painted black. Hieroglyphs were once inlaid in blue frit. Registers of inscription are separated with reddish-brown paint. Condition: Feet missing. Nose, chest and hands battered. Some loss of paint from face and most of wig.
    CAPTION Shabty of the Lady of the House Iuy, ca. 1539–1400 B.C.E. Limestone, 12 1/16 x 3 3/4 x 2 3/16 in. (30.6 x 9.6 x 5.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.129E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.129E_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.129E_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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