Shabti Dolls

Do you know what a Shabti doll is? Would you like to know how three of them ended up in the Lisburn Museum? Shabti (or shawbti) dolls were small figurines which were included in ancient Egyptian burial ceremonies. Made from stone, wood, or faience (fine tin-glazed pottery), the dolls were inscribed with a spell and served a crucial role in accompanying the dead to the afterlife.

In 1841 John Charley (1784-1844) of Seymour Hill, Lisburn purchased some Egyptian artefacts, including a mummy for the Belfast museum. While transporting them back along the Nile, Charley’s boat capsized. Only an empty sarcophagus and three Shabti dolls survived. Those dolls, currently on loan from the Ulster Museum, are now displayed as part of our ‘Ancient Egypt: Lisburn Stories’ exhibition, which runs until October. Why not come and see them and many other exciting Egyptian artefacts for yourself? View our What’s On page for details.

Three Shabti dolls acquired by John Charley in 1841. Ulster Museum Collection.
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