Shawabty of Tjay-mes

Egyptian
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18–20
1550–1070 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Ihnasya el-Medina (Herakleoplis Magna)

Dimensions

Height: 14.7 cm (5 13/16 in.)

Accession Number

91.267

Medium or Technique

Pottery

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty of pinkish clay is unglazed. It depicts a mummiform figure of somwhat squat proportions. Traces of paint suggest it was covered in white originally. The head carries traces of reddish-brown with black accents for facial details. Hieroglyphic text is painted in black on front with vertical lines bordering the text column. Swaths of linen bandages have been bound to the upper portion. The text reads: “The radiant one, Osiris Tjay-mes.”

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.

Provenance

From Ihnasya el-Medina (Herakleoplis Magna). 1890-1891: excavated by Edouard Naville for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the EEF by the Egyptian government; October 1891, presented to the MFA by the EEF. (Accession date: December 8, 1891)

Credit Line

Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription