Shawabty of a woman
New Kingdom, Dynasty 20
Findspot: Egypt, Abydos, Cemetery G
Hieght: 15 cm (5 7/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty of reddish clay is shaped as a mummiform figure. The front of the body and the face have remnants of yellow paint, while the sides and back are white and a tripartite wig black. Somewhat awkwardly rendered arms are crossed over the chest, right over left. Surfaces are somewhat worn. A rim of clay at the outer edges reflects manufacture by mold.
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 Abydos, cemetery G. 1900: excavated by William Matthew Flinders Petrie and Arthur Cruttenden Mace for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the Egypt Exploration Fund in the division of finds by the government of Egypt, received by the MFA through subscription to the Egypt Exploration Fund. (Accession Date: November 1, 1900)
Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription