From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Seti I (KV 17)
h. 30 cm (11 13/16 in)
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 124
This shabti was one of hundreds made for the pharaoh Seti I, the father of Ramesses II. Shabtis were placed in a tomb so the owner's spirit would not have to perform manual labor in the afterlife. The figurines were often inscribed with the "shabti text" – chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead – a spell that exhorts the shabti to substitute itself if the owner is asked to till the fields, irrigate the land, or transport sand from east to west. To this end, even royal shabtis are often depicted clutching a pick and a hoe, and with a basket hanging over one or both shoulders. In this example, the king holds the hoe in his left hand and the pick in his right, but there is no basket on the back.
Ex collection Baron Francis Walker Grenfell. Carnarvon Collection from 1917. Purchased with the Carnarvon Collection by the Museum from Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, 1926.