Shabti of King Taharqa - ROM2008_10402_11


Shabti of King Taharqa

Medium:Serpentine? (ankerite?)
Geography: Excavated at Nuri, Sudan (ancient Upper Nubia)
Date: c. 690-664 BC
Period: Reign of Taharqa, Napatan Period
22.23 x 7 x 4 cm
Object number: 926.15.2
Credit Line: Gift of the Government of Sudan
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Nubia

This mummiform statuette represents King Taharqa who ruled both Nubia and Egypt c. 690-664 BC.  It is a funerary figurine or shabti, which was recovered by George Reisner’s 1915-1918 excavations at the site of Nuri; it was gifted to the ROM by the government of Sudan in 1926.  Shabtis were placed in tombs to assist the deceased in the afterworld, as detailed in Spell 6 of The Book of the Dead. The ten horizontal lines of incised hieroglyphs 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 1000 intact shabtis were found aligned in at least three rows along the walls of Taharqa’s burial chamber; many fragments also exist.

The shabti’s facial features recall those on other monuments of Taharqa, such as his sphinx from Kawa (BM 1770). The eyes are sharply contoured, the nose is broad, and the lips thick. He wears a bag or khat headdress which is gathered at the back into a sort of pigtail. In the middle of his forehead is a uraeus indicating royal status. His chin is adorned by a long plain beard.  The body is fairly broad and the arms are shown placed across his chest, with the hands placed opposite each other. Each hand holds a hoe and a cord which leads to a small rectangular seed bag represented on the back of the figure. (S.B. Shubert)

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