Egypt Picture - Ushebti Box of Djed-Maat-iuesankh

Ushebti Box of Djed-Maat-iuesankh

Ushebti Box of Djed-Maat-iuesankh


James Rensselaer


Ushebti Box of Djed-Maat-iuesankh


This lady's ushebti box would have contained the full complement of funerary figures required for burial in the Third Intermediate Period. Probably small glazed faience ushebtis, numbering 401, were deposited in the box, where they were believed to lie sleeping until invoked to work by the names and spells inscribed on them. In the Twenty-first Dynasty it was common to inscribe the figures only with the name and titles of the deceased, but this was sufficient to identify the ushebtis when work was ordered in the afterlife.

The box is designed with the barrel-vaulted roof associated with the Lower Egyptian Shrine. The exterior surface has been given over to scenes similar to those on papyrus or tomb walls. The box itself is made of a number of pieces of wood that have been pegged together and plastered over to hid any differences in materials. The lids, hardly vaulted at all, have pegs as knobs, and similar pegs had been placed on the sides so that the lids could be tied down for sealing.

On one side of the box the god Anubis is shown lying in a wakeful pose. His tail does not hang down but is up as if he were ready to spring. The god holds the crook and flail of rulership, the emblems associated with Osiris particularly. Anubis thus protects the deceased who becomes an Osiris and her funerary equipment as well. The opposite side of the box shows the deceased kneeling in a papyrus boat, as she rows herself across the sky. The inscription runs as follows, fromright to left: "The Osiris, the mistress of the house, the singer of Amun-Re, king of the gods, Djed-Maat-iuesankh, vindicated. Ferrying in peace to the Filed of Reeds, that excellent bas may be received". The lady is shown wearing a long linen garment that spreads out around her one upraised knee. She wears a red fillet on her head, similar to those worn by participants in funerary rituals. On the short side of the box we see the left eye of the sun god, here indicating the moon, or evening solar orb. Djed-Maat-iuesankh rows away from the evening toward the morning and the right eye of the sun. Beneath the left eye, on the right, is the hieroglyph for the west, reaching out to extend life to the deceased. The ba of Djed-Maat-iuesankh stands over food offerings in the gesture of adoration, presumably toward the sun god.

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