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Shabty of Senkamenseken

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 Faience
  • Place Excavated: Nuri, Sudan (ancient Nubia)
  • DATES ca. 633-613 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26
    PERIOD Napatan Period
    DIMENSIONS 7 5/8 x 2 1/4 x depth at base 1 1/2 in. (19.3 x 5.7 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE By exchange
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Blue glazed faience ushabti of Senkaman-seken (633-613 BC). The ushabti is of the later type with inscribed plinth running up the back; lappet-wig; hands crossed with one hoe and one cord, inscribed with 6 horizontal registers of hieroglyphs. Wig and beard have a dull purple glaze; balance of figure greenish-blue. Workmanship good. Condition: Glaze worn, otherwise excellent.
    CAPTION Nubian. Shabty of Senkamenseken, ca. 633-613 B.C.E. Faience, 7 5/8 x 2 1/4 x depth at base 1 1/2 in. (19.3 x 5.7 x 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 39.6. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.39.6_wwgA-3.jpg)
    IMAGE installation, West Wing gallery A-3 installation, CUR.39.6_wwgA-3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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