Gli Ushabti, cioè i “rispondenti”, dovevano rispondere e sostituire il defunto in tutti i lavori che gli venivano imposti nell’aldilà. Erano delle piccole statue che costituivano un elemento indispensabile del corredo funebre.

Ve n’erano di due tipi:

mummiforme, e in questo caso rappresentava l’eterno spirito del defunto che scaturiva dalla fusione del Ba e del Ka, oppure raffiguranti l’ immagine di servitori o portatori di offerte.

Tra gli ushabti troviamo anche le cosiddette “statue del Ka”, che servivano da sostituto del corpo per ospitare il Ka del defunto, quando ritornava per assimilare, per loro tramite, l’essenza dei cibi lasciati dai vivi sulla tavola delle offerte.

In origine le statuette erano scolpite in legno di persea.

In seguito i materiali impiegati variarono a secondo della classe sociale del defunto e spesso, dato che la statuina era offerta da terzi, dalla tipologia del rapporto che li legava al defunto, infatti, sotto i piedi di alcune statuette dei faraoni, sono incise delle dediche da parte dei funzionari che donavano l’ushabti per offrire i propri servizi nell’aldilà.

Spesso veniva inciso il testo del sesto capitolo del “Libro dei Morti“:

”O questo ushabti di (nome del defunto), se io sono chiamato e messo in nota per fare i lavori che si compiono abitualmente nella duat te ne sarà affidato l’incarico. Sostituisciti me in ogni momento per coltivare i campi, per irrigare le rive, per trasportare sabbia ad oriente e ad occidente.

Eccomi, dirai”.
O tu ushabti di (nome del defunto) ascoltami!

Se io sono chiamato o condannato ad eseguire un qualsiasi lavoro che si impone alle anime nell’aldilà, sappi o ushabti, che è su di te che incomberà questo onere e che dovrai farvi fronte con i tuoi strumenti.

In ogni momento tu sarai chiamato al mio posto dai sorveglianti della duat per seminare i campi o per irrigarli, o per trasportare sabbia dall’oriente all’occidente.

”Eccomi sono ai tuoi ordini” questo è ciò che devi rispondere.

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