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The ushabty Statuettes of king tutankhamun

Ushabtis of Tutankhamun

We found 413 ushabti in the tomb of Tutankhamun which were distributed between the Annexe and the Treasury. Only one was recovered from the antechamber. (This was probably misplaced from one of the two main collections). They were discovered in 24 boxes, ten of them from the Treasury and 14 from the Annexe. They were made of different materials: Wood, calcite, various kinds of stones and coloured faience.

Ushabtis of Tutankhamun

As the real shabti figures, even those of the king were merely formal representations and not portraits. In this case, the sculptor has produced what appears to be the likeness of Tutankhamun. There are indications that not all of the shabtis buried in the tomb had originally been made for the king since the facial features of some of them are quite different from those of the boy king.

They are represented with different kinds of crowns, headdresses and wigs: nms, xAt headdresses, Red crown, white crown, double crown, blue (xprS) crown, tripartite wig or stepped (curly) wig. They are also represented holding various objects such as the crook, flail as well as their special implements (Over 1800 objects were found accompanying Tutankhamun’s ushabtis made out of copper, faience and wood).
Only 29 of Tutankhamun’s ushabtis were inscribed with a version of chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead or the ushabti formula, the remaining 384 carried just the king’s names and titles. An inscription found under the feet of five of the more elaborate ushabtis explain that it was made by the Royal Scribe and General of the Army, Minnakht and Maya, the supervisor of the royal necropolis as a gift for their lord the Osiris king Nebkheprure to be part of his funerary equipment.

The differences between servant statues and shabti figures:

1- Concerning the function, shabti figures had definite function (to answer instead of the king while being asked by god Osiris to perform tasks in the fields of Iaru) while servant statues used to be put in the tomb with the deceased to serve their master in the hereafter by doing daily life duties like slaughtering animals, feeding the geese, etc. Also the ushabti would answer to commands asked by Osiris in the afterlife while servants were commanded by their master.

2- Concerning the number, shabti figures have definite number (as explained before) while servants never had a definite number.

3- Concerning the facial features, shabti figures used to have the facial features of the deceased, while servants were represented with their own features.

4- Concerning hieroglyphic inscriptions, shabtis used to be represented having hieroglyphic inscriptions (names and titles of the king- Htp di nsw formula (at the very beginning) - magical spells of chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead). Servant statues had no special inscriptions.