Shawabty of King Piankhy (Piye)
Napatan Period, reign of Piankhy (Piye)
Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), el-Kurru, Ku 17, debris in stair and chamber
Overall: 5.6 cm (2 3/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
These are two joining fragments of a shawabty of King Piankhy (Piye). One is a head fragment. The right side of the head is missing. The other is an upper torso fragment. There is one unframed column of painted text which shows the cartouche on the back of the figure. This foreman shawbty figure wears a bag wig with a uraeus. He holds a whip in his left hand.
The ancient Nubians included shawabtys in their tombs only in the Napatan Period, about 750 - 270 B.C. These funerary figurines are based on Egyptian shawabtys, but differ from them in many features of their iconography. For instance, the known Nubian examples are only from royal tombs. Also, they have unique texts, implements, poses and are known to have the largest number of shawabtys included in one tomb. Their function, it is assumed, was the same as that of the Egyptian shawabty, namely 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.
From Nubia (Sudan), el-Kurru,Ku 17 (tomb of King Piankhy (Piye)), debris in stair and chamber. 1919: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of the Sudan.
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition