Requires Photography

Shawabty of Wahibre

Egyptian
Late Period, Dynasty 26
664–525 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, street G 7400, south of mastaba G 7450

Dimensions

Overall: 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

27.1899

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This Late Period shawabty is inscribed for the Overseer of the Army, or General, Wahibre. The typology of this period consists of a tripartite wig, long beard, back pillar and base, with the figure holding the pick on the right shoulder and hoe and cord to a small seed bag on the left. Here the arms are crossed right over left. The back pillar is very shallow. There is one horizontal line of incised text encircling the body, ending at the back pillar and also one framed column of incised text on the front of the figure, starting at the bottom of the horizontal line. It is inscribed for Wahibre. The object was broken in two pieces and is not mended. It is missing the foot and base. It has a bright blue-green glaze.

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 lengths 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 Giza, street G 7400, south of mastaba G 7450 in radim. 1927: excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition