May 21, 2009

Shawabty of Ditamenpaankh

Shawabty of Ditamenpaankh

715–656 BC

Part of a set. See all set records


Overall: 1.9 x 1.1 x 1.2 cm (3/4 x 7/16 x 1/2 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1914.718.65



High demand for shawabtys in the Late Period, a time when as many as 400 or more shawabtys were placed in the tomb with the deceased, gave rise to a specialized container for storing them: the shawabty box. This example is inscribed for the lady of the house, Ditamenpaankh, and was probably one of a pair originally made for her. The single-masted boat on the box's lid is perhaps an allusion to the pilgrimage of the deceased to the holy city of Abydos, the cult city of Osiris, king of the dead. The shawabtys inside are crude, mass-produced examples cast in an open mold. Made of terracotta, their blue paint imitates more costly shawabtys made of faience. As for the shawabty spell, it has been removed from its traditional location on the shawabty's front and relocated onto the sides of box, where it needed only to be written once, thus expediting production.

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