Shabti of Djehuty–mes

56.5.36
Mummiform shabti wearing a plain tripartite wig painted black. The paint is worn on the front lappets, and also to a lesser extent on the left side and back of the wig. The arms are crossed above the waist, and the hands hold a pair of small hoes. The arms are outlined in black, and bracelets are painted on the wrists. A basket with square–hatched detail is added on the back. The face of the shabti is rather poorly modelled. Traces of black paint remain around the eyes and mouth. A vertical column of a painted inscription on the front of the figure names the owner as Djehuty–mes. The 20th Dynasty saw the development, unique to the period, of shabtis that are known as ‘contours perdus,’ a term proposed by Raymond Weill. They are all made from alabaster, and, as Weill’s expression suggests, are only summarily shaped. Although the present example is shaped very well, the incorporation of wax, of which traces remain, can certainly date the shabti to the 20th Dynasty, although perhaps it is not strictly of the ‘contours perdus’ type in terms of its modelling. A well–known group of shabtis for a certain Djehuty–mes are known to have come Tuna el–Gebel (Hermopolis Magna), but the owner is given the title Great of Five. It must be assumed that the present shabti is for a different owner of the same name. Although the figure is mummiform, carries implements, and a basket, it is perhaps feasible that the shabti is an ‘overseer,’ and as such in charge of ten worker shabtis. True ‘overseer’ shabtis, wearing the dress of daily life, and carrying a whip, gradually came into fashion during the 20th Dynasty. So perhaps the present shabti for Djehuty–mes is part of the developing process, initially at least recognising the concept of an ‘overseer’ by using the title Overseer of Ten, but not in terms of their eventual iconography.