Requires Photography

Shawabty

Egyptian
Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
664–332 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Pit G 7511 A, chamber H, N gebel grave in floor,

Dimensions

Overall: 13.8 x 4.6 x 3.8 cm (5 7/16 x 1 13/16 x 1 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

25.3378

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This mummiform shawabty has a tripartite wig and a long plain beard. The arms are crossed and hands opposed. The tools are modeled in low relief or outlined by an incised line. The right hand holds a large hoe and a cord to small seed bag slung over the back of the left shoulder. The left hand holds the pick. The back pillar is broad and extends from the bottom of the wig to the bottom of the small, thick square base. The shawabty is uninscribed. There is a slight chip on the right rear of the base.

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 Giza Pit G 7511 A, chamber H, N gebel grave in floor, [debris in rock-cut coffin]. 1925: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition