Ushabtis or Shabtis were figurines designed to be placed in tombs. They take the appearance of human mummified figures, usually with their arms crossed at their chest. They could be made using several materials, such as wood, clay and faience, which remains the most common, especially in its blue or green shades. Shabtis were intended to act as servants for the deceased and to perform any manual labour for them in the afterlife. For this to be possible, early shabtis would include the name of their master inscribed on it and also a summoning spell to which they replied. In fact, shabti translates as “the answerer”. Such figurines could also be inscribed with passages from the Book of the Dead, the intention of which was to secure safety for the deceased in the afterlife. In later periods, with the increased mass production of shabtis, the deceased would include a significant number with them in their tomb; even so many as 365 workers and 36 overseers to supervise.
To discover more about these fascinating objects, please visit our relevant post: Egyptian Shabti: Companions in the Afterlife.