Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21–24
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, W of Pyr. I-a
Overall: 6.1 cm (2 3/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty fragment of a torso is in a mummiform pose with arms crossed right over left, 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. Implements and details are painted black. The fragmentary text is written in black in one vertical column down the front of the figure.
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 Giza, W of Pyr. I-a. 1924 : 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.
Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition