An Egyptian Royal Shabti Overseer for Osorkon II, 22nd Dynasty, 874 – 850 BC

If the faience and the e-mail seem to be of less good quality than the XXI dynasty, there is nevertheless an undeniable artistic revival under osorkon II: the chaouabtis come alive again, their faces come alive and some copies reach the highest peaks of the 'art; For example those corveables of Osorkon II curiously stylized, with headdress of living, and opposing hands included in the frame of the inscription each copy of this series is in itself a masterpiece different from its neighbor, all expressive At the highest point, sometimes squabbling, sometimes sheepish, always attentive.

Montet fancied he recognized a portrait of the sovereign, a tall and thin man, with his head almost too small with fine features. But nothing is less so much the expression of the faces may differ, and because the king possessed a second series of chaouabtis without any resemblance to the preceding ones.

These new corveables have a big round head with a smooth wig and provided their face is not less expressive, although the mouth sometimes sketches a disdainful pout; In all cases, profoundly shaped faces are the work of another master who in all likelihood belonged to a different workshop.

The two series of corveables to serve osorkon II in the other world are each directed by chiefs of the same style as their subordinates and carved by the same hand; For the first time in the history of the chaouabtis these self-controlled foremen with the determined expression march the left leg forward on a rectangular base. They no longer have their arms crossed but the right arms alone raises a whip whose handle for those of the first series is widened down into a lotus flower.

One finds in fact among the kings and high dignitarres found in tone, an accused differentiation of the chiefs who for each character present a particular form of whip or stick. But the most astonishing, no doubt, is that the foremen of osorkon ii. Are in general smaller than the simple corveables, sometimes even half; These miniature heads come nevertheless from the same collection as the normal heads these objects having all been bought together in Cairo in tano besides the smallest foremen are facsimiles of the registered heads of greater size.

Foremen or servers the bone chaouabtis when enrolled, have only one column of text on the legs, whereas those with the small head are inscribed on the dorsal pillar.    The most developed inscription is read on the corveables of one or the other series: "if one pronounces the name of osorkon beloved of amon I am here you will say."

In fact, we observe all intermediaries between the corveables bearing this brief allusion to Chapter VI and others who are uninscribed or carry only the King's cartouche without any title (fig 109). Between this extreme the miniature leader represented is limited to answering "Here I am, you will say."

According to the summary indications published by Montet, Pirince Hornekhti, the first prophet of amon, possessed at least as many chaouabtis as the king; If the museum of cairo has retained only a few tens of large figures of Oskorkon II, it retains at least 160 chaouabtis of the Prince, which would represent almost half of the initial collection. Apart from a few rough or neglected examples, the most beautiful statuettes made for hornekhti with the face of a noble and serious child already conscious of his authority do not give in any way to those of the king his father 

 hus may well have been the son of Osborn, who apparently possessed only a series of funerary statuettes with chiefs of various sizes. It is not impossible, however, that the Prince also had miniature anepigraphers; For example, this little walking figure represents 107 colored of the same bluish green as his colleagues of large plys.

It is true that the other chiefs riding on the young prince do not walk, but are frozen as to the guard necks their looped wig is that of the living ones their raised right hand holds a lanyard whip arranged around the neck

'reis' shabti holding a whip, which were responsible for groups of ten ushabti each

For related example see: Barbotin, Christophe, Jean Yoyotte, and Christiane Ziegler. Tanis: L'or Des Pharaons. S.l.: Association Française DÁction Artistique, 1987. Print. pg. 146-147 and

J-F. Aubert, Statuettes égyptiennes, chaouabtis, ouchebtis, Paris, 1974, pl. 42, 44 & 45.

Dimensions:  Height:  4 3/4 inches (12 cm)

Condition:  Incomplete with head professionally rejoined, loss of lower legs, small loss to tip of nose otherwise intact with interesting remains of Egyptian blue pigment coloring the wig.

Provenance:  Excavated in 1939 by Pierre Montet in the royal necropolis at Tanis, tomb I, thereafter private collection of G. Michailidis, reference #940/2? faintly in black ink on back, acquired by Dr. Ulrich Mueller early 1970's.   


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