Ushabti for Udjarenes

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Ushabti for Udjarenes

Late 25th – early 26th Dynasty, 
.670-650 B.C.,
H: 18.5cm



A mummiform shabti wearing a plain wig with extended lappets tucked behind large ears. The broad face has precisely carved details including cosmetic lines and eyebrows. Folded arms with hands protruding from the wrappings hold the usual agricultural implements of crook and flail, with a seed bag over the left shoulder. Seven lines of hieroglyphic text are inscribed on the body, dedicating the shabti to Mistress of the House, Udjarenes, and quoting Chapter Six of the Book of the Dead. Old inventory number ‘26’ on the base.

Udjarenes (or Wadjrenes) was the daughter of Piankhy-Har and granddaughter of Piye (d. 714 BC), Kushite king and the founder of the 25th, or Nubian, Dynasty of Egypt. A Priestess of Hathor and Singer of Amun, Udjarenes held a highly elite position. Ten other shabtis dedicated to Udjarenes are known, including two in the British Museum (EA68986 and EA24715), two in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and one in the Berlin Museum (10663).[1]

Udjarenes was the wife of Montuemhat (c. 700-650 BC), Fourth Prophet of Amun and Count of Thebes, in a politically advantageous match – Udjarenes’ uncle, the pharaoh Taharqo, made Monteumhat Governor of Upper Egypt. Following the Assyrian invasion of Egypt and the sack of Thebes in 663 BC, the city was virtually autonomous. In a shrewd political move during the ninth year of his reign, Montuemhat invited Nitocris, the daughter of Psammetichus I, to take the role of  God’s Wife of Amun (the highest-ranking priestess of Amun). Montuemhat therefore allied himself with both the 25th and the Northern 26th Dynasty. Montuemhat’s tomb in El-Assasif (TT34) is one of the largest ever constructed in Egypt for a private person, and had some of the finest reliefs in archaising style of the Late Period. Although Udjarenes was one of three wives of Montuemhat, she was the only one mentioned in his tomb, where she was probably buried.[2]

Several statues of Montuemhat exist in museums today, in which he is portrayed in the style of the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom.

[1] M L Bierbrier, 'Udjarenes rediscovered', The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (1993, 79), pp. 274-5.
[2] B Porter and R L B Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, Vol. I: Theban Necropolis, Part 1: Private Tombs (Oxford, 1973), p. 56.


Catalogue of The Collection of Egyptian Antiquities formed by the late Colonel Evans of Merle, Slinfold, Sussex, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 30th June 1924, London, Lot 100, plate II.
Antiquities, Christie’s, 15th April 2015, London, Lot 51.
Egyptian Antiquities, Charles Ede Ltd, 2016, pp. 24-27.


Previously in the Private Collection of Colonel Evans of Merle (1828-1903), most likely acquired at some point between 1850-1900.
Sold at: Catalogue of The Collection of Egyptian Antiquities formed by the late Colonel Evans of Merle, Slinfold, Sussex, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 30th June 1924, London, Lot 100.
Private Collection of Alton Edward Mills (1882-1970), La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland, from at least 1970.
Thence by descent.
Sold at: Antiquities, Christie’s, 15th April 2015, London, Lot 51.
With Charles Ede Ltd, acquired from the above sale.
Private Collection, USA, acquired from the above 3rd November 2018.
ALR: S00229526, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database. 

Note on the Provenance

Lieutenant-Colonel John ‘Bashi’ Evans was born in the historic mill village of Darley Abbey, Derbyshire on 14 June 1828. He was born to a family of prominent bankers and industrialists, who oversaw the construction of four cotton mills and over 130 houses for millworkers in the village during the 18th century.

In December 1854, Evans purchased a Cornetcy in the 6th (Inskilling) Dragoons, but was dismissed in July 1855 following a practical joke involving a sham duel at the Cavalry Depot in Canterbury. Though it was later shown that Evans was not the guilty party, he worked to save his reputation by volunteering to serve on the personal staff of Major-General Sir W Fenwick Williams during the last phase of the Crimean War. Upon his arrival in Turkey, Evans began organising reinforcements to defend the besieged city of Kars from the invading Russian forces. He learned Turkish and was given command of the Ottoman Bashi-Bazouks (literally ‘crazy heads’), who were known for great bravery, but also for looting and preying on civilians due to their lack of regulation. Evans led this guerrilla force to Erzeroum in eastern Turkey and began attacking the flanks of the Russian army and going behind enemy lines as a spy. Although Kars was taken by Russian General Nikolay Muravyov, Evans received the Turkish General Service medal and the nickname ‘Bashi’ for his role in defending the city.

Evans then joined the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers in India in 1856, where he was promoted to Lieutenant during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Fellow member of the 9th Lancers, Major Anson recorded in his eyewitness account of the battle, With H.M. 9th Lancers during the Indian Mutiny, that ‘Evans slept in a puddle today. Strongest man I know. Yesterday two hours up to his breast in water under burning sun surrounded by alligators which he attempted to catch by their noses. He has only a slight cold today’. The 9th Lancers were critical in the recapture of Delhi for the East India Company, drawing fire while the infantry attacked the breaches. Evans took to wielding a hog spear in battle, which is now part of the 9th Lancers’ Regimental silver.

Evans continued to serve with the 9th Lancers until his return to England in May 1859, where he purchased a Captaincy in 1861 and transferred back to the 6th Dragoons, before retiring from active service to work as a banker. He married Lucy Jane Martha Hamilton in 1865, and they lived at Merle, a red-brick Victorian house in the village of Slinfold, Horsham, Sussex, until his death in 1903. A memorial tablet in Darley Abbey eulogises Evans as ‘one of bravest soldiers of the great Queen’. Evans was also known for his philanthropic work as President of the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, and a Freemason of the Tyrian Lodge.

Egyptology was among Evans’ wide-ranging interests. The core of his collection was formed in the late 1850s and early 1860s, while the 9th Lancers were quartered in Egypt. Evans frequently revisited Egypt between 1870 and 1900 and added substantially to his collection at these times. From 1880 onwards, he was in frequent touch with Francis Llewellyn Griffith, Percy Newberry, and Sir Flinders Petrie. He also became close friends with Sir Lauder Brunton and Sir Archibald Geikie. Evans exhibited works with the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1895, and a large number of scarabs from Evans’ collection were published in Newberry’s 1905 book on the subject.

Alton Edward Mills was born in the south of England on 9th September 1883, and attended Winchester College. At 20, he travelled to Egypt to work for the ‘Societé de Pressage et de Dépots’, an Egyptian company specialising in cotton production. Mills served as managing director of the Societé de Pressage until 1946, when he became Chairman of the Board until the outbreak of the Suez War in 1956. Following this, all British citizens were expelled from Egypt. Mills then settled at La Tour-de-Peilz in Switzerland in order to avoid returning to the English climate.

Mills had a keen interest in Egyptology, and assembled an extensive library on the topic. Between the World Wars, Mills gathered an important collection of ancient Egyptian objects, and of Chinese porcelain.