Overseer Shabti

Third Intermediate Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 130

This small funerary figure (shabti) is unusual in that it is made of pottery rather than faience. Inscribed for Pa/Peftjau..., the pose and attributes, with one arm by the side and the other holding a whip, as well as the starched kilt, identifies this as an "overseer" figure. It was likely one of about 401 shabtis buried with its owner, of which 365 (one for each day of the year) would have been mummiform "workers," ready to carry out manual labor on behalf of the deceased in the afterlife. Ideally, there was one overseer for each ten workers (one for each day of the week), there to make sure their duties were performed properly.

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