Shabti, modern, daily dress type

Production date
Early 20th Century CE
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Object detail

Pottery figure of a standing woman. Arms are bent to rest the hands on the thighs, depicted dressed, front of dress contains representations of heiroglyphs. Foot repaired. The fabric ranges from orange to buff over the torso and grey over the head and rear of the right shoulder. The reverse shows burnished faceting consistent with being produced from a mould. This figure has long braided hair. Around the neck is a two-tiered collar, beneath which the breasts and stomach are exposed and the arms poorly formed and very thin are held by the sides. The hands rest on the top of a skirt. The inscription is not authentic and is not translatable. Below the skirt the legs are recessed in with feet protruding a short way.

This is an example of a modern produced Egyptian art piece for the tourist market. The style is modern shabti daily dress type, imitates the daily dress shabtis of the New Kingdom. This type can have a column of heiroglyphs running down the kilt or cartouche on the hem. The figure wears a nemes wig hybrid and broad collar. See Potter 2022 A note on Modern (Fake) Shabtis as tourist art, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 1-8.
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Egyptian figure
Production date
Early 20th Century CE
Production place
H190mm x W50mm x D30mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
In the First World War, many servicemen saw duty in foreign lands, collecting ancient items of material culture and sending these back to loved ones back home.

For the amateur soldier-collector-archaeologist there were many opportunities to secure Egyptian antiquities. A short horse ride with a local guide to a rich gravesite, would secure a dozen scarabs after a few minutes of digging. Curios could be purchased from street sellers, authentic antiquities dug up from the desert sands, or faux objects ‘inspired’ by authentic pieces, such as large scarab paperweights.

This is not a genuine ancient shabti. The inscription is a series of made up signs mixed with real glyphs. These inscriptions, though poorly executed, were a common device to lend authenticity to such forgeries.Fake figurines, including shabtis, were produced in vast numbers in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for sale to unsuspecting tourists

Selling replicas as genuine antiquities has been big-business in Egypt for hundreds of years. At the start of the war the trade in Egyptian fake antiquities was large, and proved a decent money earner for street sellers in Egypt. The number of soldiers travelling through or training in Egypt would have been an absolute boon for the souvenir sellers, including those selling ‘genuine’ antiquities and faux objects ‘inspired’ by the genuine antiquities, such as this object.
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