July 10, 2011

Today's word is "Shabti"

I was feeling touristy today so I took a trip to the British Museum. I spent most of the time in the Egyptian room with brief forays into the Greek pottery room and an exhibit with tidbits about different cultures around the world. I learned that "shabtis"were carved figurines that the ancient Egyptians started burying with mummies because they believed that if the dead were asked to work in the fields in the afterlife the shabtis would act in their stead and/or be their servants in death. When shabtis were first introduced only one or two of them were placed in the tomb so the carvings were much more ornate. After a while the number of shabtis increased to over 400 in some tombs and since so many of the little statues were used the quality of the carving was much lower. 

There was also another exhibit that talked about the funerary practices of the Ga people of Ghana. They are known for commissioning coffins that represent the life or aspirations of the person who has died. One man was a bus driver before he died and his family buried him in a coffin that was carved and painted to look like the first bus he drove. There were also animal shaped coffins and some other really cool shapes like these. I thought it was interesting how different cultures mourn their dead in such unique ways. It all makes the standard American funeral look boring by comparison.

Shirt: New York & Company
Skirt: International Concepts
Jacket: Old Navy via Ebay
Belt: Ebay
Shoes: Old Navy
Earrings: Forever 21

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