Shawabty of the Priest of Amen, Puyemra
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reigns of Hatshepsut an
Height x width: 24.5 x 9.5 cm (9 5/8 x 3 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This is a fragment of a shawabty carved of soft, cream-colored limestone of a fine grain. It depicts a mummiform figure with tripartite wig and long false beard. Its hands are crossed opposite right over left on the chest. Facial features are well modelled. Six-horizontal bands of incised hieroglyphic text with divider lines have been applied from the waist down. Additional lines have broken away with the lower part of the shawabty. The surviving text identifies the owner as “Puyemre, Second Priest of Amon” under Queen Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. The lower legs and feet are broken off and missing, and sizable chips from the surface extend upward from the break. A chip is missing from the false beard. Surfaces are very well smoothed, and the remaining portion of the shawabty is in good condition.
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.
Likely from the tomb of Puyemra, Thebes. By 1909: purchased in Egypt by Joseph Lindon Smith; 1909: on loan to the MFA; 1911: purchased by the MFA through funds provided by Mary S. Ames. (Accession date: August 3, 1911.)
Gift of Miss Mary S. Ames