Peg/stick Shawabty

New Kingdom, likely Dynasty 20
1186–1070 B.C.

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


Height: 19.8 cm (7 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This wooden shawabty has some attributes of both peg and stick shawabtys. It has bundled, fetal-like proportions, rather than fully modelled shape of a mummiform figure. However, the foot is blocked in, as with stick shawabtys, rather than being fully rounded as in many peg forms. A column of yellow painted hieroglyphic text has been applied to the legs with vertical yellow border lines. Yellow has also been used to accent facial details. The shawabty is split at the back.

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 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