Requires Photography

Fragments of shawabtys of Tanwetamani

Nubian
Napatan Period, reign of Tanwetamani
664–653 B.C.


Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kurru, Pyramid 16, stairs at thieve's hole

Dimensions

Overall Smallest: 2 cm (13/16 in.) Overall Largest: 3 cm (1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

19.1860

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

These are four fragments of shawabtys (type A) of King Tanwetamani.
There are three leg and foot fragments that join. These mummiform shapes do have a back pillar and base.
There is one top of head fragment

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 written on the shawabty itself in the form of a “Shawabty Spell,” of which versions of various lengths are known. Shorter shawabty inscriptions could also just identify the deceased by name and, when applicable, title(s). However, many shawabtys carry no text at all. The ideal number of such figurines to include in a tomb or burial seems to have varied during different time periods.

Provenance

From el-Kurru, Ku. 16 (tomb of Tanwetamani), stairs at thieve's hole. 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 Sudan.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition