Requires Photography

Shawabty

Egyptian
Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21–24
1070–712 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Pit G 7813 T, room II, debris

Dimensions

Overall: 9 cm (3 9/16 in.)

Accession Number

31.1990

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty has a mummiform pose with arms uncrossed with hands opposed, each hand holds a hoe. As is typical for this period, there is no back pillar or base and the hoes are the same size. An incised line marks the bottom of the wig and the bottom of the buttocks. Implements and details of the fillet, hoes and seedbag as well as the text are painted black. The fragmentary text written in black in one vertical column down the front of the figure is illegible. The object was broken in three pieces and all are now mended. The lower legs are missing.

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 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 Giza, Pit G 7813 T, room II, debris. 1931: 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