Shawabty jar of Patjau (alt: Panefu)
New Kingdom, Dynasty 19
Findspot: Egypt, Abydos
Height: 29.5 cm (11 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This is a pottery jar with a black jackal-headed stopper. Though the shape of the lid is consistent with canopic jars (jars that contained certain inner organs of the deceased subsequent to embalming/mummification), this example is rather a shawabty jar, having contained nine shawabty figurines that were found with it. The jackal head, however, still likely refers to the god Duamutef (one of the Four Sons of Horus, protectors of the viscera of the deceased). The details on the jackal head are yellow. Between the rim and shoulder runs a band of black lozenges bordered in red and yellow on a white background. On the body is a vertical band of hieroglyphs on a yellow background, bordered in red, that identifies the owner as “The Osiris, Chantress of Isis, Patjau (alternately Panefu).” The same inscription is carried on the shawabty figurines themselves.
For shawabtys originally contained within this jar, see also: 03.1746-03.1754.
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. Containers for shawabtys ranged from coffin-shaped boxes made for individual figurines, larger boxes to for groups, or, as in this case, jars.
From Abydos. 1903: excavated by William Matthew Flinders Petrie for the Egypt Exploration Fund, assigned to the Egypt Exploration Fund in the division of finds by the government of Egypt, received by the MFA through subscription to the Egypt Exploration Fund. (Accession Date: January 1, 1903)
Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription