Shawabty of Remai
New Kingdom, late Dynasty 18–20
Height x width: 14.3 x 5.7 cm (5 5/8 x 2 1/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty of reddish pottery is a mummiform figure with an overall coating of white paint in imitation of linen bandages. It wears a gray-blue tripartite wig. The face is painted reddish-brown. Hands of the same color are shown crossed and opposed on the chest, each holding hoes painted on in red. A bag is rendered on the back as well. A painted vertical band of hieroglyphic text runs down the front of legs: a yellow band with red borders and black text. The ownder is identifiee as “Osiris Remai, True-of-Voice (i.e. vindicated/justified)” (Wsir R.(i)-ma.(i) mAa-xrw). The yellow band expands over the upper chest and neck area, possibly denoting a pectoral collar/necklace or similar. Slight chips from front of feet and face are missing. Otherwise this shawabty is largely intact.
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