Stick shawabty and model coffin

Egyptian
New Kingdom, Dynasty 12–13
1991–1640 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Sheikh Farag, S.F.167

Dimensions

Height x width: 20.1 x 5.5 cm (7 15/16 x 2 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

13.3798a-b

Medium or Technique

Wood

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This wooden “stick” shawabty has its own model coffin, also of wood. Both are carved very crudely with minimal detail from cylindrical pegs/dowels, the overall shape of which is still somewhat evident. The mummiform figure of the shawabty has been given extremely little detail, and no trace of paint remains. Arms are indicated only slightly by scant stubs rendered on the sides. Facial features are very rough, but visible. Stylized feet sland outwards somewhat, but are not very pronounced as in some shawabtys of this type. The shawabty itself exhibits several cracks. The coffin compartment is fashioned from simple hollowing of the original peg. Fragments are missing, but it is still largely intact. Many examples of this type of shawabty were provided with such model coffins of either wood or pottery.

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 Sheikh Farag SF167.1913: Excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition. Assigned to the MFA by the Egyptian government in the division of finds. (Accession Date: December 4, 1913)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition