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Book of the Dead Chapter 6

Source for the composition: the most widely copied composition in Egyptian funerary literature, this occurs first among the sets written on the walls of coffins dated to the mid Twelfth Dynasty, about 1900-1850 BC ('Coffin Texts', number 472), with the specification that it be recited over a figure of the deceased as in life. Around a century later, mummiform figures inscribed with the figure are found in model ‘substitute’ burials, at Lisht and Abydos. From the end of the Second Intermediate Period, about 1550 BC, it becomes a regular part of royal and elite burials, growing in number from one or two per burial in the Eighteenth Dynasty to Third Intermediate Period sets comprising one for every day of the year, and one to direct every group of ten. The figures are addressed in the composition by the term ‘shabti’, later reinterpreted as ushabti ‘respondent’; the figures are requested to carry out any tasks involving heavy manual labour required of the deceased in the life after death. The composition is found regularly on larger Book of the Dead manuscripts from the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) to the Ptolemaic Period, either separately (‘chapter 6’) or as the caption to or inscription for the shabti figure in the embalming hall illustration (‘chapter 151’).

The following is the version found in the Papyrus of Nu, mid Eighteenth Dynasty. (hear the spell - 'Egyptian' - English - beware of the size of the sound document - each about 300 kb)

i.Swbty ipn
ir ip.tw N r irt kAt nbt irrt im m Xrt-ntr
ist Hw n.f sdbw im
r s r Xrt.f
ip.tw r.k r nw nb ir.tw im.f
r srwd sxt r smHt wdbw
r Xnt sa r imnt iAbt
iry.i mk wi kA.k

O shabti figure(s)
If N is called up to do any work that is done there in the underworld
Then the checkmarks (on the work list) are struck for him there
As for a man for his (work service) duty
Be counted yourself at any time that might be done
To cultivate the marsh, to irrigate the riverbank fields
To ferry sand to west or east
‘I am doing it – see, I am here’, you are to say


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