Requires Photography

Fragments of shawabtys of Queen Tabiry

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


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

Dimensions

Largest: 2 cm (13/16 in.) Smallest: 0.8 cm (5/16 in.)

Accession Number

19-4-145c.1

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This is a box of fragments of shawabtys belonging to Queen Tabiry, wife of King Piankhy (Piye). It consists of 3 kilt fragments and one head and shoulders fragment from an overseer figure. When complete, a foreman shawabty figure wears a long beard, tripartite wig and a short pleated kilt. He holds a whip in his right hand.

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 magically animate in the Afterlife in order to act as a proxy for the deceased when called upon to tend to field labor or other tasks. This expressed purpose was sometimes

Provenance

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