Figurines placed in the tomb of the Nubian Egyptian King Taharqo(XXV Dynasty Egypt).
The shawabti figures illustrated here are some of more than 1,070 that were discovered standing in neat rows in the burial chamber of King Taharqa's pyramid tomb at Nuri, Sudan. A few of these are as tall as 23.5 inches.
The Egyptians believed that the afterlife was essentially the same as the present life, so that an individual might enjoy the same possessions, people, and privileges in both realms. By the same token, the individual was also subject to the same responsibilities and burdens, such as mandatory labor for the government. An Egyptian was periodically called upon to labor for the state, primarily maintaining the extensive system of irrigation canals. During life, this was expected, though no one wanted to spend eternity performing manual labor. The shawabti figurines provided a magical solution to this problem, acting as a substitute laborer in the afterlife.
Shawabti figures of King Taharqa, Sudan (Nuri), Dynasty 25, reign of Taharqa, 690-664 B.C., Granite, alabaster, and other stones. Harvard University--Museum of Fine Arts Expedition.