A servant for eternity

Shabti a_8803

Shabti b_8806

These figurines were placed into Egyptian tombs between around 2000 and 300 BC. They were expected to be magically activated by the deceased in the afterlife and to undertake tasks the gods would require. The word ‘shabti’ means ‘answerer’ and the figurines would only answer to the person whose name was inscribed onto them. In elaborate examples there is a longer ‘spell’ from the Book of the Dead, which promises that the shabti will enthusiastically work when called.