An Egyptian Royal Shabti for the Princess Nesy-Khonsu, 21st Dynasty, ca. 1069-945 BC

of exceptional deep blue glazed faience, shown mummiform, the features in applied black. Slim and handsomely proportioned, the well modeled features include an unusually fine heart-shaped face with accented eyes and eyebrows, straight nose and small, sweet mouth.  She holds two hoes and carries a seed basket positioned at the back below the striated tripartite wig.  Six registers of text wrap around the body, almost meeting at the back, reading:

The Osiris, first chief of the concubines of Amun, NesKhons…

followed by the standard Chapter 6 shabti spell from the Book of the Dead. 

Background:   Wife of Pinudjem II, Princess Nesy-Khonsu (NesKhons, Nesi-Khonsu) was daughter of the High Priest of Amun Nesibanebdjedet and his wife Tahentdjehuty. She held the titles: "first chief of the concubines of Amen-Re, King of the Gods, majordomo of the house of Mut the great, lady of Ashru; prophetess of Anhur-Shu the son of Re; prophetess of Min, Horus, and Isis in Ipu; prophetess of Horus, lord of Diuef; god's mother of Khons the child, first one of Amen-Re, King of Gods; and chief of the noble ladies”. 

Buried in DB320 in year 5 of Siamun, her burial included a religious decree that was to ensure her well-being in the next world, as well as prevent her from doing harm to her husband and children from the afterlife. Her children include Tjanefer (II), Masaharta (III), Itawy and Nesitanebtashru. 

Reference:  Budge, E.A. Wallis (1893) Catalogue of the Egyptian collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (1893) [page: ] [comments: no.24]

Porter, Bertha Moss, Rosalind Burney, Ethel W. Topographical bibliography of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, reliefs and paintings. Vol.1, The Theban necropolis. Pt.2, Royal tombs and smaller cemeteries [page: 664]  [comments: 2nd edition; page referring to Eskhons, Vicereine of Kush]

For a list of other examples see G. Janes, Shabtis, a Private View. Ancient Egyptian funerary Statuettes in European Private Collections, Paris, 2002, no. 53; the author notes that "Nesy-Khonsu was a daughter of Smendes II and also niece of Pinudjem II, both of whom were successive high-priests of Amen at Thebes who ruled that part of Egypt during the 21st Dynasty. Nesy-Khonsu was perhaps a favoured member of the harem of Pinudjem II as she became his first wife."  On the discovery of the first Royal Cache at Deir el-Bahri in 1871, including Nesy-Khonsu's ushabtis, and the later appearance on the market of rare and, from the point of view of the history of religions, highly significant inscribed boards from her ushabti box, now in the Louvre and the British Museum.

J.-F. and L. Aubert, Statuettes égyptiennes. Chaouabtis, ouchebtis., Paris, 1974, pp.139f.

for related example see: The Brooklyn Museum Exhibitions: To Live Forever: Art and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, Accession Number: 16.185

Condition: Loss to the front of the feet professionally restored, some glaze cracking and wear to glyphs below name and title, deposits to the head and body, otherwise intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions:  Height:  16.51 cm (6.5 inches)

Provenance:  From Thebes, Deir el-Bahri (Cache I), 1880s, Ex. De Groot Utrecht collection, Holland, thereafter private collection of S. Bono, Illinois, acquired on the Dutch art market, 2001.


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