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Work Shabti of Amenophis III

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Serviteur funéraire du roi Aménophis III

© 2008 Musée du Louvre / Christian Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Author(s):
Élisabeth Delange

This “shabti” is wrapped in a shroud like Osiris, the god of the dead, and holds the scepters of the god in his crossed hands. As it is a statue of King Amenophis III, it wears the white crown. Statuettes such as this were produced in series and placed in tombs. Amenophis III created series of particularly large statues and inaugurated a personal formula. Moreover, this particular shabti has had an unusual fate...

A stroke of luck

The statue was broken at the neck, and the head was separated from the body for almost 170 years. The body arrived at the Louvre in two pieces, early in the museum’s history when the department of Egyptian Antiquities was founded, then the head was found on the art market by pure chance. As a result of the damage to the statue, the head sits rather low on the shoulders and is not a perfect fit, but an identical band of quartz running through each plane of the break proves that it indeed belonged to the same piece.

Originality

The king stands with folded arms, wrapped in a shroud and holding a scepter in each hand: the crook and the flail. This was the traditional pose of shabtis in the form of the god Osiris. The statue has the beard of a god and wears the white crown—a tall miter adorned with the uraeus. The childish, full-cheeked face with its large, almond-shaped eyes corresponds to that of Amenophis III. The latter created an original type of shabti: he had series of extra-large figures made from the hardest stones, such as granite, and further innovated by adding specific invocations to the usual shabti formula.

The Shabti

The Shabti was a funerary statue in the likeness of the deceased, and was placed in the tomb. Such statues were produced in series, and supposed to "work in the afterlife," according to the established formula. Amenophis III added a personal touch to his invocation to the "gods who are near the Lord of the Universe, seated at his command" (i.e. his distant ancestors, the first pharaohs who were buried at Abydos): "Remember me"… This return to origins, and to the very place where legend had it that Osiris was buried, indicates the significance of the shabti: as its appearance suggests, it was a new Osiris who shared the destiny of the god of the Dead—resurrection and fertility.

Bibliography

-  Aménophis III, le roi soleil, catalogue de l’exposition, Editions de la réunion des musées nationaux, Paris,1993, p. 284-285, notice n° 67 bis.

- Connaissance des Arts, numéro hors série, 1995, n° 68, p. 18, pl. 15 (commentaire des analyses de laboratoire du Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France).

Technical description

  • Serviteur funéraire du roi Aménophis III

    1391 - 1353 avant J.-C. (18e dynastie)

    trouvé dans sa tombe de la Vallée des Rois

  • granite

    H. : 58 cm. ; L. : 16 cm.

  • N 467, E 27488

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Materials and techniques
    Room 7
    Vitrine 04 : La pierre

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