from the collection of the DIA


Shabti of Hor-wedja
663-525 B.C
Egypt
Faience; height 8 ¼ in.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Jacobs; 81.918

Shabtis, small human figurines, were placed in the tomb and the mummy to perform any tasks the deceased might be asked to do in the next life. Ideally, there would be more than four hundred such figures, one for every day of the year as well as one overseer for every squad of ten workers. The ordinary workers were wrapped like mummies and equipped with a pick, hoe and basket; in contrast, the overseers usually wore long kilts.

This figure was excavated by the pioneering British Egyptologist W.M.F. Petrie from the tomb of Hor-wedja in 1890 at Hawara in the Fayum region. Over 400 shabti figures of Hor-wedja were found. Many of them were given to supporters of Petrie’s excavations and have since found their way into almost every Egyptian collection in the world.


Detroit Institute of Arts: Ancient Egypt Lesson Plans for Teachers