Shawabty of Merysuitef (?)
New Kingdom, Dynasty 20
Findspot: Egypt, Abydos, Cemetery G
Height: 18.3 cm (7 3/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty of reddish clay retains yellow paint on the face and front of the mummiform figure. It wears a tripartite wig, painted black. Arms are folded on the chest with no indications of hands. Black-painted hieroglyphic text (now very faded) on the front of the legs identifies the owner, possibly to be read as Merysuitef.
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