height: .114

Accession Number


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

Crude shawabty; green faience worn off in parts; damaged; feet missing; inscibed in front (doubtful reading).
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.


1947, gift of Mrs. Walter Atherton, Boston, to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 18, 1947)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Walter Atherton