A large and exceptional faience shabti of pale blue/green glaze shown standing on a trapezoidal base, wearing a tripartite wig and plaited divine beard curled at tip, the particularly fine facial details are in high-quality relief, and the mouth wears a gentle smile. The hands, crossed over the chest, hold a pick, a hoe, and the cord to a seed bag that is suspended over left shoulder, and there is a raised dorsal pillar at the back. Around the legs and over the feet are ten horizontal bands of crisp, incised text containing the extended version of the shabti spell, naming the owner and commences: - “ The illuminated one, the Osiris, the “Overseer of the Royal Ships” , Tjai-en Hebu, born to Ta-nefert-iyti, he speaks: O these ushabtis …." (Janes)
Tjai-ne-hebu's tomb was discovered just south of the pyramid of Unas at Saqqara in 1900 by A. Barsanti and G. Maspero. Because of his important position as 'Overseer of the Royal Ships' and also 'Overseer of the Scribes of the Magistrates,' and judging by the richness of his burial, Tjai-ne-hebu was a man of considerable wealth. In his tomb there was a large basalt anthropoid sarcophagus (Cairo JE 35136) which contained Tjai-ne-hebu's mummy, adorned with a gold face mask (JE 34525), toe and finger covers (JE 34527), and numerous fine amulets and pieces of jewellery. Also found were four alabaster canopic jars (JE 34330) as well as a number of other funerary objects. A total of 401 ushabtis were found placed on wooden shelves on either side of the entrance to the burial chamber, 263 on the right and 178 on the left. (Janes).
Other ushabtis for Tjai-ne-hebu can be found in museums such as Cairo (20 recorded under a single entry JE 34332), National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, (1922:16), British Museum, London (EA 34278-34281,35388-35391, 41554-41558, 63454 & 69570), Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyons (1969-514), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (10.130.1047a-d & 26.6.1-2),17 Ontario (951.44), Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (1965.175), Louvre, Paris (AF 1908), and Museo Egizio, Turin (1654).
Published: BAAF 2009 Catalog (Brussels) Charles Ede LTD Tjai-en-hebu Egyptian Antiquities Charles Ede Ltd 2009 No 25 Tjai-en-hebu, son of Pa-Neferet (incorrect name – see Janes) Christie's, New York, 8 Jun 2001, Lot 102 Amherst collection, Sotheby’s 1921
For related examples see: G. Janes, Shabtis A Private View (Paris, 2002), pp. 210 - 212 no. 106a. Jacques F. Aubert – Liliane Aubert, Statuettes égyptiennes, Chaouabtis, ouchebtis (Paris, 1974) p. 296 fig 139. J-L Chappaz, Les figurines funéraires égyptiennes du Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, (Geneva 1984), p. 88 no. 73b. Ushebtis Egypcios (45) Museo Gregoriano Egizio, Vatican, Pic No. 80 Ushebtis Egypcios (45) National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, Pic No. 84
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall. A truly spectacular example.
Dimensions: Height: 7 1/4 inches (18.5 cm)
Provenance: Tomb discovered in 1900 near the pyramid of Unas (Saqqara) by A. Barsanti/G. Maspero. (Janes). Amherst Collection, sold by Sotheby's in June 1921, inventory #1058, Christie's, New York, 8 Jun 2001, Lot 102. An old inscription on the base reads: Teha-nehibu, a Superintendant of Royal Cargos, a similar figure is in British Museum no 34 279. See guide I of II Egyptian Rooms, page 128 where it is illustrated and mentioned as being of special interest" Last line unreadable but possibly a name and date.
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