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Fragments of shawabtys of Queen Tabiry

Napatan Period, reign of Piankhy (Piye)
743–712 B.C.

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), el-Kurru, Ku. 53


Largest leg: 3 cm (1 3/16 in.); Smallest leg: 0.5 cm (3/16 in.) Largest torso: 3.9 cm (1 9/16 in.) Smallest torso: 1 cm (3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This is a box of fragments of shawabtys belonging to Queen Tabiry, wife of King Piankhy (Piye). The box contains seventy leg/feet fragments (three in two pieces, one in four pieces) and twenty-five torso or torso/leg fragments (two in two pieces). When complete, the female figure has a tripartite wig with no uraeus. She wears a long sheath dress with no visible hem line. The arms with open hands are held straight down at the sides. There is no back pillar or base. The figure is uninscribed.

The ancient Nubians included shawabtys in their tombs only in the Napatan Period, about 750–270 B.C. These funerary figurines are based on Egyptian shawabtys, but differ from them in many features of their iconography. For instance, the known Nubian examples are only from royal tombs. Also, they have unique texts, implements, poses and are known to have the largest number of shawabtys included in one tomb. Their function, it is assumed, was the same as that of the Egyptian shawabty, namely to ma


From Nubia (Sudan), el-Kurru, Ku. 53 (tomb of Queen Tabiry ).1919: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of the Sudan.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition