Wooden peg shabti

British Museum

British Museum

Shabti figures were placed in Egyptian tombs from the late Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC). They were intended to act for the deceased if they were called upon to perform manual tasks in the Afterlife. The fact that shabti figures often hold hoes or picks indicate that this work was thought to be agricultural. Shabti were usually represented in a mummified state, with the hoes or picks held crossed over the chest. A spell from the Book of the Dead was inscribed on the front of the figure to prompt it to answer when the name of the deceased was called. Most examples were made of painted wood, stone, faience or clay.This is one of the crudest examples of a shabti figure. It is called a 'peg shabti' because of its shape. It is possible to recognize a basic human form standing on a low plinth. The fact that the feet are not separated, and the body has no features, suggests that it is meant to appear in a mummified state. There is no sign of any implements, and the facial features are reduced to crude cuts. The spell inscribed in black pigment on the front of the figure is the only real indication that this is intended to be a shabti.

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  • Title: Wooden peg shabti
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 8.92cm; Width: 1.40cm; Depth: 2.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Registration number: 1924,0621.5
  • Place: Found/Acquired Egypt
  • Period/culture: Second Intermediate
  • Material: wood
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Newberry, Percy Edward