One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of a set of wooden, stone, or faience figurines, in the form of mummies, placed in an ancient Egyptian tomb to do any work that the dead person might be called upon to do in the afterlife.
- ‘In the New Kingdom especially the shabtis were considered as chattels, not unlike slaves.’
- ‘The seven objects include small funerary statuettes or shabtis, a bronze axe head, a ceramic bowl and amulets to help the dead find their way to the afterlife.’
- ‘He annexed to this work engravings of other Egyptian works of art owned by English collectors - mummy cases, ushabti, scarabs, statuettes and other antiquities - which provides an interesting checklist of who owned what at this time.’
- ‘There it is, our shabti, lying on its little black velvet cushion, reunited with its owner.’
- ‘They are called shabti, and were figurines which were put into tombs and were believed to be invested with magical powers to do work for the deceased in the afterlife.’
From Egyptian šbty, literally ‘answerer’.
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