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An Egyptian Faience Shabti for Merenptah, New Kingdom, ca. 1213-1203 BC
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An Egyptian Faience Shabti for Merenptah, New Kingdom, ca. 1213-1203 BC

Merenptah was the fourth King of the Nineteenth Dynasty, ruling Egypt for almost ten years from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on May 2, 1203 BC.  The thirteenth son of Rameses the Great, he came to power because all his older brothers, including his full brother Khaemwaset, had died. By the time he ascended to the throne he was almost sixty years old, although for all intent and purpose, he was regent during the last 10 years of his father’s reign. His throne name was Ba-en-re Mery-netjeru, which means "The Soul of Ra, Beloved of the Gods".  Other titles he held were: Hereditary Prince, King’s Son of his Body, Eldest King’s Son, Grand Priest of Ptah, Executive at the Head of the Two Lands, General, Royal Scribe, Superintendent of the Seal.  

Here we have a mummiform votive shabti for the Prince, a vertical column of text at the front naming the owner: " Instructions of Osiris the Great (?), Grand Priest of Ptah, Merenptah".  The form is distinctive:  made from blue glazed faience, the shabti wears a short wig with sidelock (wick of child) and a small goatee adorns the chin.  Around his neck is a broad  usekh collar and amuletic necklace that rests between fisted hands which hold agricultural implements for use in the afterlife.  On his back is a large bag of wheat grains, and suspended water pots, beautifully defined in black pigment.

Dimensions: Height: 5 1/2 inches (14 cm)

Condition:  This is a great example of Merenptah shabti, the blue/green glaze to the faience contrasts well with the contrasting black pigment that still remain strong.  The surface is very well preserved with some expected mild deterioration in places and varying yellow to brown tones due to firing and a fine layer of soil accretion that does not detract. The shabti is intact and in very good condition overall.  

Tests:  XRF tested by Michael C Carlos Museum (MCCM) result: no high lead, ancient.  

Provenance:    Probably Memphis, Serapium, ex: Collection Pierre & Claude Verite, Paris, acquired in 1930-1960, Christies, Paris, 20 Dec 2011, Lot 157, thereafter private Virginia collection. 

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