Qabalah: Ushabti, Shabti

Egyptian Shabtis - an answer to a prayer

By Robert Zucker

Shabti (also called ushabti, or Shawabti) are magical, clay figure statues produced in the early dynasty of the Egyptian empire.

Shabti is the Egyptian word for "answerer." The term shabti applies to these figures, prior to the Twenty-first dynasty (21st) of Egypt, after the end of the First Intermediate Period.

Shabti also applies to statuettes inscribed with Chapter Six of the Book of the Dead. Otherwise, they might better be defined by the generic term, funerary figurines. (wikipedia: Ushabti). The Shabti were also called Ushabti and Shawabti.



Ushabti, shabti, Egyptian statue

An Egyptian Ushabti (Shabti), a funerary figurine.

Egyptian myths claim that ushabtis are funerary figurines help do the work of the owner after they are deceased. An Egyptian prayer is made to the statue to bring it to life. Most shabti's are made of clay, some are wood carved. The power of dirt, or clay, was believed to have life-giving properties. Read about theory on life from clay.

Ushabtis (shabtis), like golem, are suppose to obey the orders of the owner. But these statuettes animate to specifically serve the soul of the deceased- whose name is carved into its chest along with the prayer to "carry the water" and "do the work" in the netherworld.

The earlier shabti may have planted the cultural seed for the later golem and teraphim legends.



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Selected Books and Collectibles on Ushabti/Shabti from Amazon:

Egyptian Shabtis
(Shire Egyptology)

Author: Harry M. Stewart

This book provides much information about the Egyptian shabtis, figurines created to act for the deceased in the afterlife. The author explains their manufacture in wood, stone, Egyptian faience and other materials; he also traces their evolution from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period. Inscriptions and spells are briefly discussed. This is a very useful reference for students, Egyptologists and art historians. Click image to see inside the book.

17th - 18th Dynasty Stick Shabtis in the Petrie Museum and Other Collections (Ghp Egyptology by Paul Whelan. This monograph represents the first comprehensive investigation of the characteristically crude wooden "stick" shabtis of the late 17th and early 18th Dynasties. Developed from a case study of examples in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and building upon scholarship that has until now focussed almost exclusively on the importance of their inscriptions, the work offers new perspectives on stick shabtis and their role in the cultic milieu during a transitional period in ancient Egyptian history. Paperback: 160 pages. Publisher: Golden House Publications (May 30, 2007). Language: English

Ancient Egyptian Funerary Statuettes in European Private Collections, by Glenn James. This large volume presents a catalogue of 115 shabtis, or funerary statuettes, held in private collections across Europe. The study stands out in particular for its high-quality lifesize colour photographs which illustrate the back and front of each shabti. The catalogue is arranged chronologically from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period, includes transcriptions and translations of hieroglyphic inscriptions, descriptions of condition and provenance and a discussion of comparative examples and their location. The CD presents full colour images of the shabtis. Hardcover: 264 pages. Publisher: Cybele (December 31, 2002).

Shabti's from Amazon.com

Shabti
Mummy

From Amazon.com, this collectible Statue Sculpture of the Egypt Ushabti Figurine. This shabti figure the finest details and highest quality you will find anywhere! Made of resin and hand painted. Height: 9 inches. Length: 2.25 inches. Width: 2.25 inches. Crafted with Resin. Weight: 2.5 pounds.