Shawabty of Patjau (alt: Panefu)

New Kingdom, Dynasty 19
1295–1186 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Abydos


Height: 14 cm (5 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty of pottery (reddish clay) is one of nine originally contained within a pottery jar with a jackal-head lid. It depicts a mummiform figure wearing a tripartite wig. Its hands are crossed and opposed on the chest. They hold the cords of a net or basket hung over the shoulders, rendered in red paint. The head, upper body, and central portion of legs show ample remnants of yellow paint, while the rest of the legs retain traces of white. Hair and facial detailing are colored with black. The yellow band on the legs provides the field for a column of black painted hieroglyphic text and border lines, which are now substantially faded. The full inscription, known from accompanying examples, identifies the owner as “The Osiris, Chantress of Isis, Patjau (alternately Panefu).

For the associated shawabtys and the jar in which they were originally contained, see also: 03.1747-03.1754, 03.1769a-b.

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 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)

Credit Line

Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription