Ushabti of Seti I

Blue glazed composition ushabti of Seti I: the lower leg section is lost. With details painted in black (probably manganese dioxide), Seti I is shown wealing the striped royal ‘nemes’ headdress, once equipped with a rearing cobra above his brow, a broad collar that imitates glazed composition beads, and bracelets that also would have been of glazed composition.

The tasks are enumerated in the carefully drawn bands of text drawn from Chapter 6 of the ‘Book of the Dead’. Though mold-made, details of the facial features, hoes, and grain bag were probably added with a sharp tool before firing, a general practice that accounts for the variation of features in mold-made ushabtis.

Faience Ushabti found in the tomb of Seti I
Faience Ushabti found in the tomb of Seti I

Statuettes of this type were placed in tombs to serve the deceased in the afterlife and to substitute for him if he should be required to perform manual labor in the Fields of Aaru (also known as the Fields of Reeds), the Egyptian idea of the heavenly paradise.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Seti I, ca. 1290-1279 BC. Made of Egyptian faience. From the Tomb of Seti I (KV17), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the British Museum. EA22818