Shawabty fragments

Egyptian


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, St. 7000

Dimensions

Height x width: 2.8 x 2.2 cm (1 1/8 x 7/8 in.)

Accession Number

26-1-883

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

Three shawabty fragments, two feet and one head. Pale blue 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 Egypt, Giza, St. 7000. 1926: excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition