Queen Henuttawy

21st Dynasty, ca. 1070-1025 BC Faience Shabti 2010.38.1 Carlos Museum. Partially gifted by Clara M. and John S. O'Shea

Faience shabti of Queen Henuttawy of the 21st Dynasty (ca. 1070-1025 B.C.).

Queen Henuttawy was of pivotal importance in Egyptian history and helped engineer a smooth transition from the New Kingdom to the Third Intermediate Period. She could be seen as the Eleanor of Aquitaine of antiquity! The daughter of Ramesses XI, the last pharaoh of the Ramesside Period, she became principle wife of Pinedjem I, a High-Priest of Amen at Karnak who assumed royal titles and ruled Upper Egypt from Thebes, while another Dynasty ruled in the Delta at Tanis. It was her son who became Pharaoh as Psusennes I at Tanis and re-unified Egypt. Her many titles, include: King's Daughter; King's Wife; King's Mother; Lady of the Two Lands; Mistress of the Two Lands; Daughter of the Great Royal Wife; Foremost Singer of Amun; Mother of the Great Royal Wife; Mother of the High Priest of Amun; Mother of Generalissimo.

She is depicted on the shabti wearing a traditional black tripartite wig with a uraeus and her arms are crossed, right over left, on her chest. In each hand she holds a hoe at the shoulder with a large seed bag at the back, all painted in black. A column of black painted hieroglyphic inscription with a cartouche runs down the lower body, reading: “The illuminated one, the Osiris, the 'King's Wife' Henut-tawy.”

Even more interesting is the modern history of the shabti. It was part of the famous first cache of royal mummies discovered at Deir el Bahri in 1881 and brought to the Cairo Museum by Gaston Maspero and Emile Brugsch.