Shabti of Queen Nasala - ROM2011_12051_12


Shabti of Queen Nasala

Medium:Glazed composition (faience)
Geography: Excavated at Nuri, Sudan (ancient Upper Nubia)
Date: 7th Century BC
Period: Napatan Period
17.78 x 6 x 3 cm
Object number: 926.15.9
Credit Line: Gift of the Government of Sudan
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Nubia

This shabti was made for Nasalsa, a well-known Nubian queen, the mother of Aspelta and Madiqen, (whose shabtis are in the ROM collections: 926.15.7 and 926.15.4). The shabti comes from her tomb, pyramid 24, at Nuri. The royal women of Kush had great power in their own rights. Nasalsa was the (probably adopted) daughter of Amenirdis 1, the most famous of the God’s Wives of Amun who brought stability to Thebes after a period of civil war. She married her brother, king Senkamanisken. She enjoyed the rare title of "Daughter of Re."

This queen is perhaps most famous for being named on a stele (Kawa VIII) which describes her joy at seeing her son, Aspelta, on the throne: "Now the king's mother Nasalsa, may she live forever, was amongst the royal sisters. The royal mother, sweet of love, was the mistress of all the wives. His Majesty sent companions in order that she may be brought. She found her son appearing like Horus on his throne. She was very greatly joyful after she saw the beauty of His Majesty."

Nubian shabtis are both like and unlike Egyptian shabtis (see 910.23.4, etc.). The most important difference is that the Nubian shabtis, so far as is known, were only made for royalty, and their use began during the period of Kushite rule in Egypt, the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. The queen is depicted, as is usual for shabtis, in the form of a mummy, with hoe and mattock and a bag of seeds over her shoulder, but she wears the royal vulture headdress. Her facial features are distinctive. When the pyramids of Nuri were excavated by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts – Harvard University Expedition, tremendous numbers of stone and faience shabtis were found in the royal burials, sometimes over a thousand. They were not kept in boxes, as Egyptian shabtis usually were, but were laid along tomb walls and along the sides of the royal sarcophagus. Though the faience shabtis seem to have been mould-made, each has distinctive features to suggest a good deal of hand work went into them. There are as yet no known texts to explain precisely how the Nubian royalty considered these little statutes, it is interesting to note that they appear when the practice of servant-burial ends, and disappear when servants began again to accompany their kings and queens into the Afterlife in the late Meroitic period.

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