Shabti of King Senkamanisken - ROM2011_11750_39


Shabti of King Senkamanisken

Medium:Serpentine? (ankerite?)
Geography: Excavated at Nuri, Sudan (ancient Upper Nubia)
Date: c. 640-620 BC
Period: Reign of Senkamanisken, Napatan Period
17.8 x 7 x 3 cm
Object number: 926.15.1
Credit Line: Gift of the Government of Sudan
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Nubia

This mummiform statuette represents King Senkamanisken who ruled Nubia from c. 640 to 620 BC.  The Kushite kings at this time followed many practices derived from Egypt.  For example, Senkamanisken’s tomb was in the form of a pyramid at the site of Nuri. This statuette is a funerary figurine or shabti, which was recovered from this tomb by George Reisner’s 1915-1918 excavations; it was gifted to the ROM by the government of Sudan in 1926.  These small human-form figurines were placed in royal Nubian tombs to assist the deceased in the afterworld, as detailed in Spell 6 of The Book of the Dead. The six horizontal lines of text on this shabti direct it answer for the deceased in the realm of the dead when work needs to be done. It directs the figure to answer “here I am” when the deceased is called upon to perform corvée labour in the afterlife, such as cultivating the fields, irrigating the river banks, or moving sand from the east to west or vice-versa.  Over 400 stone and more than 800 faience shabtis were recovered from Senkamanisken’s tomb.

The royal status of Senkamanisken is indicated by the nemes headdress and the double uraeus placed at the brow.  He wears a false plaited beard, with the chin straps attaching it clearly visible.  Even so, the agricultural work the figurine is meant to undertake is indicated by the two hoes that he holds in arms crossed over his chest, a narrower one in his right hand and a wider one in his left. Over his left shoulder is depicted a seed bag, probably made of wicker, with the cord to which it is attached hanging down with a forked end. On the base of the figure is an incised ankh sign. (S.B. Shubert)

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