Uschabti Figure, 332–30 BCE
Glazed earthenware (faience)
Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
These small funerary objects from ancient Egypt were commonly found in tombs. Because of the copious amounts produced to be placed in tombs, these humanistic figures were fairly standardized in design by artists. Often depicted as a human who has undergone mummification, they served as stand-ins to aid the dead in the afterlife. While the Uschabti references the mummification, preservation and alteration after death of the physical bodies of ancient Egyptians, in many cultures the modification of the body for ceremonial and religious practices has long occurred. What do these practices reveal about the cultural importance placed on certain aspects of the body? How do contemporary cultures alter the body of a deceased individual to honor their life?