Shawabty of Ameneminet
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18–20
Height x width x thickness: 21.5 x 6.6 x 5 cm (8 7/16 x 2 5/8 x 1 15/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Limestone or sandstone?
Not On View
This shawabty of beige to gray stone, possibly either limestone or sandstone, depicts a male figure in the dress of the living. Attire consists of of an elaborately detiailed duplex hairstyle/wig and flaring kilt/skirt with pleated pattern. Its arms are crossed over the chest, right over left, holding the straps of a net slung over the shoulders to the back. Slight traces of black and red paint remain. The front bottom of the skirt carries a vertical band of incised hieroglyphic text, now rather worn, to identify the owner by name (indistinct) and title (” scribe”). The figurine is broken through waist and mended.
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.
By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way. (Accession date: June 28, 1872)
Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way