Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Curse of the Mummy

  I can't speak for anyone else, but I have a lot of little objects in my life. They seem to be everywhere; on mantles and windowsills, in jars and boxes, and basically just rolling around around everywhere I turn. Sometimes I'll open a box and start fiddling with the contents and one of the items will catch my eye, and I'll wonder, "Is this something special? Is this possibly rare or even valuable?" Often I don't even remember where the thing came from.
  In the case of this particular object, a small 3" stone or terracotta figurine that appears to be an Egyptian mummy, I recalled finding it at the bottom of a box of odds and ends I had purchased at an auction. I was examining it this morning and I noticed how old it looked, no, not old--ancient. I got online and sure enough, it matched perfectly with pictures of ancient Egyptian ushabtis I found on the web, particularly those dating to around 500 BC. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article:

"The ushabti (also called shabti or shawabti, with a number of variant spellings, Ancient Egyptian plural: ushabtiu) was a funerary figurine used in Ancient Egypt. Ushabtis were placed in tombs among the grave goods and were intended to act as servants or minions for the deceased, should he/she be called upon to do manual labor in the afterlife. The figurines frequently carried a hoe on their shoulder and a basket on their backs, implying they were intended to farm for the deceased. They were usually written on by the use of hieroglyphs typically found on the legs.[1][2] Called “answerers,” they carried inscriptions asserting their readiness to answer the gods' summons to work.[3] The practice of using ushabtis originated in the Old Kingdom (c. 2600 to 2100 BCE) with the use of life-sized reserve heads made from limestone, which were buried with the mummy.[4] Most ushabtis were of minor size, and many produced in multiples – they sometimes covered the floor around a sarcophagus. Exceptional ushabtis are of larger size, or produced as a one of-a-kind master work."

No comments:

Post a Comment