This is a shawabty belonging to Queen Maletasen. The female figure wears the queen's vulture headdress over the tripartite wig. There is one visible horizontal line of incised text encircling the body. The text is framed and there is a line up the center of the back. The text is painted black....
This is a shawabty belonging to Queen Maletasen. The female figure wears the queen's vulture headdress over the tripartite wig. There is one visible horizontal line of incised text encircling the body. The text is framed and there is a line up the center of the back. The text is painted black. This mummiform shape does not have a back pillar or base. The arms are not crossed, the hands are positioned right above left. Unusually, the right hand holds a whip and the left hand holds a short stick. The figure is broken off from below the hands and down. The left back side of the wig, the left lappet and the top of the right hand are chipped off. The figure is mud encrusted. The ancient Nubians included shawabtys in their tombs only in the Napatan Period, about 750–270 B.C. These funerary figurines are based on Egyptian shawabtys, but differ from them in many features of their iconography. For instance, the known Nubian examples are only from royal tombs. Also, they have unique texts, implements, and poses and are known to have the largest number of shawabtys included in one tomb. Their function, it is assumed, was the same as that of the Egyptian shawabty, namely 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 Nubia (Sudan), Nuri, Pyramid 39 (tomb of Queen Maletasen) Room B. 1918: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan.
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition