Shabti box and shabtis of members of the Sennedjem tomb

From the New Kingdom forward, shabti figurines, who might number anywhere from one to over 400 in a single tomb, were intended to stand in for the departed anytime he or she was required to undertake manual labour in the hereafter. A variation of Spell 6 from the Book of Coming Forth by Day (commonly known as the Book of the Dead) is engraved on one of these examples: “O, shabti…if I am summoned…to undertake any job in the land of the dead…you shall act for me on all occasions of making arable the fields, of flooding the banks, and so on, ‘Here I am,’ you’ll say.” or of transporting sand from east to west: ‘Here I am,’ you’ll say.” (Adapted from William Faulkner’s The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead). The names of the deceased with whom they were associated are on the others.

Object Details

Shabti box and shabtis of members of the Sennedjem tomb

New Kingdom, Ramesside

Dynasty 19, reign of Ramesses II

1279–1213 B.C.

Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Medina, Tomb of Sennedjem (TT 1), Egyptian Antiquities Service/Maspero excavations, 1885–86

Painted wood, limestone, and ink

Shabti box (86.1.14): H. 28.5 cm (11 1/4 in.)
Shabti of Khaibekhnet and Iineferty (86.1.18): H. 16.7 cm (6 9/16 in).
Shabti of Khonsu (86.1.21): H. 17.7 cm (6 15/16 in.)
Shabti of Khaibekhnet (67.80): H. 18.6 cm (7 5/16 in.)
Shabti of Mesu (86.1.28): H. 15 cm (5 7/8 in.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art