Shawabty of the priest of Sekhmet Huy
New Kingdom, late Dynasty 18–early Dynasty 19
Findspot: Egypt, Abydos, Cemetery G
Height x width x depth: 16.5 x 6.2 x 3.7 cm (6 1/2 x 2 7/16 x 1 7/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Out on Loan
On display at Houston Museum of Natural Science, TX, May 17, 2013 – June 30, 2018
This is a shawabty of dark blue glazed faience. It depicts a mummiform figure. The figure wears a tripartite wig and short false beard. Very narrow modelled arms are shown crossed over the chest, right over left. The shawabty’s feet are somewhat flat. Details have been added in black: striations on the wig to denote tresses as well as band holding the ends of the frontal lappets; an elaborate, multi-stranded pectoral collar/necklace on the upper torso and shoulders with falcon head terminals; bracelets on the wrists. Facial details, including the false beard, have been accented in black. The hands of the figure hold several objects: a bag hangs down from each hand just above the waist, while implements of agricultural work likely hoes, though possibly picks) project outward along the upper chest, partially obscured by the collar/necklace. On the legs a black painted inscription of hieroglyphic text has been arranged horizontally in nine bands separated by divider lines. Glaze on the front of the feet has worn down. A fragment has chipped away from a corner of the feet. There are small chips out of the rest of the figure as well, mostly superficial and restricted to the glaze only.
The text contains a version of the “Shawabty Spell” and identifies the owner as Huy.
Translation of the text:
1- The illuminated, Osiris, the prophet of Sekhmet…
2- Huy, the vindicated literally: “True-of-Voice”], who says:
3- “O this Shawabty, if (I am ) summoned
4- and if ( I am) counted off to do any task
5- that is to be done in the necropolis, to cultivate
6- the fields, to irrigate the shores
7- and to transport the sand of the East and of the West
Transliteration of the text:
1-sHD Wsir Hm nTr n sxmt
2- Hwy mAa xrw Dd.f i.
3- Sabty ipn iry aS
4- iry ip.t r irt kAt nbt
5- irrwt m Xrt-nTr r srd
6- sxwt r smHt wDbwy
7- r Xnt Sa n iAbt n Imntt
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