Shawabty of Thutmose

New Kingdom, Dynasty 18–20
1550–1070 B.C.


Height x width x thickness: 11.7 x 4.1 x 2.8 cm (4 5/8 x 1 5/8 x 1 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty of yellowish pottery depicts a mummiform figure wearing an intricately detailed duplex wig. Its fully rendered arms are crossed at the chest. Incised details include implements of field work held against/over the shoulders. No trace of color or glaze remain. The object is broken and mended. Seven horizontal lines of hieroglyphic text with dividing lines are carried on the legs.

The text reads:
1-… In multiplication, Djehuty-mes, saying
2- O this shawabty, if (this Osiris) is counted off …
3- (if he) is counted off to carry out all kind of tasks that are to be done (in the Necropolis),
4- to cultivate the fields,
5- to irrigate the shores, and to transport
6- sand of the East to the West
7- … for me in every ocassion in order to do …

Line 1: … m aSa DHwty-ms Dd.f
Line 2: Sabty pn ir ip.t …
Line 3: ( r ir kAwt nb(t) irrt (m Xrt-nTr)
Line 4: r srd sxwt
Line 5: r smHt wDbw r Xnyt
Line 6: Sa n iAbty r Imntt
Line 7: … r.i r nw nb r ir(t)..

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)

Credit Line

Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way