Shawabty

Egyptian
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18–20
1550–1070 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Abydos, Cemetery G, tomb of Padewesir and Djedhor

Dimensions

Height: 12 cm (4 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

02.779

Medium or Technique

Pottery; molded

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty is molded of pottery (coarse, red clay). It depicts a mummiform figure of awkward proportions, rough modeling, and minimal detailing. The figure wears a tripartite wig. Arms are modeled as mere bulges, though likely meant to show hands crossed and opposed. There are no indications of facial features, painted decoration, or text.

An ancient Egyptian shawabty is a funerary figurine that was intended 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 length 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 Abydos, Cemetery G, tomb of Padewesir and Djedhor. 1902: excavated by William Matthew Flinders Petrie for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the Egypt Exploration Fund in the division of finds by the government of Egypt, received by the MFA through subscription to the Egypt Exploration Fund on November 17, 1902. (Accession Date: November 17, 1902)

Credit Line

Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription