Last Item-------------------Next Item

Egypt 26th Dynasty

Description: Faded green glazed Ushabti. Finely modelled with incised text on the front. Hairline cracks in the middle and foot.
Period: 26th Dynasty 663-525 B.C.
Size: 125 mm high


After leaving the tomb, the souls of the dead were supposedly beset by innumerable dangers, and the tombs were therefore furnished with a copy of the Book of the Dead. Part of this book, a guide to the world of the dead, consists of charms designed to overcome these dangers. After arriving in the kingdom of the dead, the ka was judged by Osiris, the king of the dead, and 42 demon assistants. The Book of the Dead also contains instructions for proper conduct before these judges. If the judges decided the deceased had been a sinner, the ka was condemned to hunger and thirst or to be torn to pieces by horrible executioners. If the decision was favourable, the ka went to the heavenly realm of the fields of Yaru, where grain grew more than twice the height of a man and existence was a glorified version of life on earth. All the necessities for this paradisiacal existence, from furniture to reading matter, were, therefore, put into the tombs. As a payment for the afterlife and his benevolent protection, Osiris required the dead to perform tasks for him, such as working in the grain fields. Even this duty could, however, be obviated by placing (up to 500) small statuettes, called ushabtis, into the tomb to serve as substitutes for the deceased.

The inscription on the Ushabti often quotes the Book of the Dead "N. says: O Shabti! If N. is detailed for any tasks to be done there (in the Underworld) as man is bound, mayest thou be chosen instead of me on every occasion, namely to cultivate the fields, to flood the banks (irrigate), to carry away sand to the East or the West, then say thou, `Here am I'."

Back to main page