Shawabty of Queen Henuttawy

Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21
under High Priest Painedjem I, 1070–1032 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Thebes (Deir el-Bahari), TT 320, TG 916


Height: 12.5 cm (4 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This is a shawabty of dark blue-glazed faience. It depicts a small mummiform figure. Arms are crossed opposite, right over left, and the hands hold a broad hoe in each, rendered in black. The figure wears a black tripartite lappet wig. Black has also been used for other detailing, including accents of facial features, bracelets, a pectoral necklace/collar, and an unbordered column of hieroglyphic text running top to bottom from the lower torso to feet. The text identifies the owner.

The inscription reads:
O illuminated one, Osiris, Princess Henutawy
(Transliteration: i sHD Wsir sAt nsw Hnwt-tAwy)

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 Thebes, Deir el-Bahari, DB 320 (cleared 1881). By 1056: in the possession of Miss Nina H. Burnham; 1956: Given to the MFA by Miss Nina H. Burnham. (Accession Date: May 10, 1956)

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Nina H. Burnham