Shawabty of Patjenef
Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, pit G 7792 A
Overall: 5.8 cm (2 5/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This head and shoulders fragment of a shawabty dates to the Late Period. The typology of this period consists of a tripartite wig, long beard, back pillar and base, with the figure holding the pick on the right shoulder and hoe and cord to a small seed bag on the left. The tripartite wig has incised lines denoting tresses and the beard is plaited. Several chips are missing, including of the nose and the tip of the beard. The modeling is extremely fine.
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.
From Giza, pit G7792 A. 1928: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition