Shawabty of Amenemopet
Late New Kingdom or later, Dynasty 18–24
Height x width: 19.3 x 5.7 cm (7 5/8 x 2 1/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty of pottery depicts a mummiform figure. The majority of the body is painted white, likely imitating linen wrappings. It wears a tripartite wig, painted black. The hands are crossed and opposed on the chest, holding implements of field work. A hoe in each hand is painted in reddish-brown. The face is also reddish-brown. A yellow crescent across the torso indicates a broad pectoral necklace/collar. A vertical band in drab yellow on the legs with column of hieroglyphic text in blackish green identifies the owner of the shawabty as: “The illuminated, Osiris, the one praised by Mut, Amenemopet” (Transliteration: sHD Wsir Hs(w) n Mwt Imn-m-ipt).
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.
By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way. (Accession Date: June 28, 1872)
Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way