Shawabty

Egyptian
Late Period, Dynasty 25–30
760–332 B.C.


Accession Number

RES.62.92

Medium or Technique

Wood

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This wooden shawabty depicts a characteristically mummiform figure wearing a tripartite wig with long front lappets. Arms are crossed opposite, right over left. The hands do not appear to hold any objects. Five horizontal bands of incised hieroThere are no traces of paint. All surfaces seem to have been coated with black paint or bitumen, some of which has worn away. This shawabty is intact.

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

By 1962: with Mrs. Godfrey Peckitt; bequest of Mrs. Godfrey Peckitt. 1962: Accepted by the MFA; 1969: arrived at the MFA. (Accession Date: January 1, 1962)

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Godfrey Peckitt