Égypte ancienne Faïence Tricolore, Nouvel Empire, Ushabti pour le prince Khaemweset, fils du pharaon Ramsès II. 14,5 cm H. - 14.5×6×4 cm

Égypte ancienne Faïence Tricolore, Nouvel Empire, Ushabti pour le prince Khaemweset, fils du pharaon Ramsès II. 14,5 cm H. - 14.5×6×4 cm
New Kingdom, Dynasty XIX, Reign of Ramesses II, 1279 - 1213 BC

Ushabti for prince Khaemweset, son of pharaoh Ramses II, including book and report.

- big and important -

“Illuminate the Osiris, (priest) Sem, King’s Son, Khaemweset, justified”.

- ushabti for the royal son -

- royal familiy of Rmases II -

Ancient Egypt

New Kingdom, Dynasty XIX, Kingdom of Ramesses II, 1279 - 1213 BC


DIMENSIONS: Height 14,5 cm.

PROVENANCE: Private collection of Dr. L. Benguerel Godó, Barcelona, acquired in London in the 1960s.


PUBLICATIONS: - Optimus Princeps. J. Bagot Arqueología. Barcelona. 2017. Fig 08.

Documents: A professional study and expertise of spanish egyptologist F. Estrada. And a publication with the piece.


A faience ushabti figurine in green colour. He wears a short wig with a plait falling down to the right. Only his hands protrude from his mummyform shroud which covers all the body. These are crossed on his chest and are holding the agricultural implements already mentioned.

The body is inscribed with a vertical column of hieroglyphs. This reads: “Illuminate the Osiris, (priest) Sem, King’s Son, Khaemweset, justified”.

Khaemweset was a prince of Egypt, the fourth son of the Pharaoh Ramesses II and the second of his second High Royal Wife, the queen Isetnofret. He is by far the best known son of Ramesses II, and his contributions to Egyptian society were remembered for centuries after his death. Khaemweset has been described as "the first Egyptologist" due to his efforts in identifying and restoring historic buildings, tombs and temples. He was the high priest of Ptah and, at the end of his life, governor of Memphis and heir to the throne. He died at the age of 56 in the year 55 of the reign of his father.

Ushabti were made from one original bi-valve mold. Once the two pieces were joined and the rough edges removed, and while the material was still moist, the details of the image were retouched and the columns were marked on which the hieroglyphs would be incised. This meant that each ushabti was unique, even though they had come from the same mold.

The material used for the creation of this ushabti is faience, composed of fine sand cemented with sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate extracted from natron. Fired at 950 degrees C, the mixture gives an enamel-like finish with the carbonates forming a vitreous surface. It was a simple procedure and therefore not costly. The green and blue tones were achieved by the addition of a few grams of copper oxide extracted from malachite or azurite. The red tones were achieved with iron oxide, the intense blues with cobalt, the black by mixing iron oxide and magnesium oxide with water. All that was needed was to paint the chosen details in the selected colour with a brush before the firing.

One of the most important Egyptian kings, Ramesses II, governed for 66 years and lived to be 87 years old, quite a record for those times. Tens of queens, wives and concubines made up his harem, so that his offspring numbered more than one hundred. Despite the fact that his great love was Nefertari, on her death in the 26th year of his reign, his second Great Royal Wife, Isetnofret (isis the Beautiful) to whom he had been married since adolescence, ascended the throne. She remained very much in the shadows, but it is believed that she was very intelligent and managed to place all her children in the most important positions in the state. It is possible that a rivalry existed between the family of Nefertari and that of Isetnofret, and that the death of the first and her first child were due to the intrigues of the second wife.

The fourth son of Ramesses II and the second of the queen Isetnofret was Khaemweset. From his youth he stood out in the court for his contributions to Egyptian society through the work of diplomacy. Ramesses held him in high regard and protected him, putting him in the hands of the priests of Ptah in Memphis. The cult of this god, the patron of artisans, was very strong from the beginnings of the Egyptian kingdom. It came to have a great religious complex at Mit Rahina. The “High Priest” or “Sem Priest”, Huy, prepared him to take over in his place, and Khaemweset took this title, as well as that of “governor of Memphis” and Crown Prince until his death at the age of 56. He has been described as “the first Egyptologist”, with the title of “The Greatest of the Masters of the Craftsmen” due to his passion for the past which led him to restore pyramids, such as the steps of the pyramid of Djoser, tombs of nobles of the Old Kingdom and some temples.

As a priest he took part in the ritual burial of the sacred Apis bulls in the Serapeum at Saqqara. Later, Khamewaset restored this, and created an underground gallery where a series of burial chambers allowed for the burial of several Apis bulls. His own tomb has never been found, although it is thought that it must be in the cemeteries of Saqqara.

Deposits of votive ushabtis were found in the Serapeum, made from stone and faience, belonging to Khaemweset and other members of his family. These are today conserved in the Louvre Museum. Flinders Petrie discovered another deposit with a small set of ushabtis in Giza, which today are to be found in the Giza Museum. There are others in the Museum of Ancient History in Brussels and in various private collections in Europe and North America. Their particular characteristics and unusual features are due to their owners: all are related to Prince Khaemweset, either by family or through religion. In this way, some allow a family tree of the family of Isetnofret to be established, as ushabtis of the queen herself were found, of her son and the elder brother of Khaemweset, Ramesses, of his sisters, Bintanat and Isetnofert II, of his brother Maatemptah and even of Merneptah, successor as pharaoh on the death of his father Ramesses II, and son of Isentnofret. Others give information about the clerical orders of the Ptah priests; Huy, his master, or Neferrenpet, who occupied the post after Huy, also of Iry-Iry as well as Hori, son of Khaemweset. It is unprecedented to have and to be able to inter-relate figures belonging to the same family and, moreover, belonging to royalty. With the priests it was thus possible to be able to discover the line of succession of the High Priests of Ptah. Finally there are others where the biography of their owners is not known, such as Baka, Neferhotep or the scribe Penrenpu, all of whom must have fulfilled important roles in this maze of personalities.

None of these ushabtis is from the tomb of his owner but rather from burials in the form of votive deposits in places of religious importance related to the cult of the god Ptah through his priests. They have been found in Serapeum, in the zone of Abydos; at the entrance to ancient tombs of the Old Kingdom; and at the area of Memphis, near the south cemetery of Giza and Saqqara. This area belonged to the cult of the god Sokar from the Old Kingdom, a god who in the New Kingdom underwent sincretism with the Memphite god par excellence, Ptah. In this manner, the ushabti is an intermediary between the individual who carries out the offering and the sacred territory, Ro-setau, the zone where, as expressed in the Amduat, the Book of That Which is in the Afterworld, the sun assimilated to Ra, visits the dead every night in a place below ground, that is, a place which pointed both to the necropolis as well as to the very tomb of an individual along with those temples having funerary connotations.

The Egyptian Afterlife was understood as a mirror of the real world, where both good and evil had their place. Those who were unfair or evil were punished for eternity, while the just enjoyed a comfortable existence travelling with the solar god. Even then, the deceased who were so blessed were still obliged to fulfil human responsibilities and needs, in the same way they had to in life. Their need to have food and drink in the Afterlife was a constant worry for them. If they were obliged to work in the Fields of Aaru, in the Realm of the Dead, and as members of a society which was a hierarchy governed by the gods, everyone – men and women, lords and servants, kings and queens – had to be willing to cultivate, sow and harvest the crops.

In the world of the living these basic tasks of production were carried out by the lower classes in society. To avoid this fate, Egyptians looked for a magic solution: they created one or more figures of themselves to be able to hand over to the emissaries of the reigning god, Osiris, when these called on the deceased to fulfil his obligations. These statuettes, placed amongst the grave goods in the tomb, were images which represented both the master and the servant.

They are known by the name of ushabtis, the term coming from sabty or shabty, derived from Sawab, the meaning of which corresponds to the Greek word “persea”, a sacred tree from whose wood the ancient Egyptians began to produce these funerary effigies. It was towards the Third Intermediate Period, in Dynasty XXI, around 1080 BC when they began to use the term wsbty, that is, “ushebty”. From then on the name “ushabti” derived from the verb wsb meaning “to answer” was used to name “he who answers”.

The use of ushabtis was incorporated into the burials in Ancient Egypt from the First Intermediate Period on. Their use grew during the Middle Kingdom, the time when the Egyptians began to write a spell in the Coffin Texts, number 472, so that the ushabtis would answer to the call: “The justified N. says ‘Oh ushabti, allotted to N, if N is summoned to do any work, or if a disagreeable task was asked of N as for any man for his duty, you are to say ‘I am here’. If N is called to watch over those who work there, ploughing the new fields to break the earth, or to ferry sand in a boat from east to west, you will say ‘I am here’. The justified N.”

This spell or utterance went on to be inscribed on ushabtis, and so in most cases, it appears there engraved. From the New Kingdom on, a great number of innovations were introduced. Examples with texts started to proliferate. Some of these were somewhat longer texts from Chapter VI in the Book of the Dead. Even so, in many cases the text simply indicates the name of the deceased, or a basic utterance, with the name of a family member or the posts that he held.

Ushabtis at first were made above all from wax, later from wood, and then towards the end of the Middle Kingdom they appeared in stone. From the New Kingdom on, the material par excellence was faience. We know they were produced in multiples thanks to moulds which have been preserved, and where in some cases, the engraved texts were unfinished, as the name of the owner was missing. The most popular form was that of the mummy until the introduction, towards the end of Dynasty XVIII, of figures decorated with everyday clothing. Many carried implements to work in the fields, such as a basket, a hoe or a pick, as a reference to the task to be carried out which was awaiting them in the Afterlife, as the symbolic representation of their master. The iconography, texts, materials, colours and their placing in the tomb could suggest other symbolic meanings.

Sometimes they were placed in wooden boxes, which could be either simple ones or with sophisticated decoration. In the New Kingdom they came to be placed in miniature sarcophagi.
While at first they were considered to be replicas of the deceased, in the New Kingdom and later, the ushabtis came to be seen as servants or a manner of slave, and for this reason they were produced en masse. There were both women and men, including specialists in different activities. Sometimes they were under the supervision of overseers, and these were distinguished by the use of a kilt. This is the case for the pharaoh Tutankhamun: he had three hundred and sixty five ushabtis at his command, one for each day of the year; thirty six overseers, one for each team of ten workers; and twelve master overseers, one for each month of the year. This came to a total of four hundred and thirteen servants in the Otherworld. The fear of having to carry out these tasks demanded of the dead by Osiris meant that in some burials there were even ushabtis who were there to act as substitutes or stand-ins, if necessary, for the main ones.

It is logical to think that no pharaoh would have wanted to carry out this type of task personally, and so at the necessary moment the utterance written on the body of the ushabti was read out so that this object acquired life to answer to the call, substituting for the pharaoh in the work.

- The piece includes authenticity certificate.
- The piece includes Spanish Export License (Passport for European Union).
- According to Spanish legislation, items sent outside the European Union are subject to export taxes and will be added to the invoice, at the buyer's expense. These export fees are fixed on the final auction price and the tax rate is not applied directly on the total value of the item to be exported, but rather the different percentages by sections are applied to it:
- Up to 6,000 euros: 5%.
- From 6.001 to 60.000 euros: 10%.
This export permit application process can take between 1-2 months maximum.
- The seller guarantees that he acquired this piece according to all national and international laws related to the ownership of cultural property. Provenance statement seen by Catawiki.

Informations du lot
Égypte ancienne
Tricolore, Nouvel Empire, Ushabti pour le prince Khaemweset, fils du pharaon Ramsès II. 14,5 cm H.
14.5×6×4 cm
Siècle/ Période
New Kingdom, Dynasty XIX, Reign of Ramesses II, 1279 - 1213 BC
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