New Kingdom, Dynasty 20 (?)
Findspot: Egypt, Tell Nabasha, Tomb 3
Height: 17.2 cm (6 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty of coarse, red-brown clay is a crudely modeled mummiform figure. It wears a tripartite wig. Its hands are slightly modelled, shown crossed and opposed on the chest. There are possible traces of red paint on the shawabty’s foot.
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.
From Tell Nabasha, Tomb 3. 1886, excavated by William Matthew Flinders Petrie for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the EEF by the Egyptian government; presented to the MFA at EEF fifth annual general meeting; sent over June 24, 1887. (Accession date: June 24, 1887)
Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription