I saw this shabti as part of the Met Museum’s exhibition called Ancient Egypt Transformed, but it is part of their permanent collection (acc. no.: 11.150.14) and was excavated at Meir in 1910 by Sayyid Pasha Khashaba who sold it to the museum a year later.
Shabtis are plentiful, a single tomb from later Egyptian history might contain hundreds! This one is notable because it is a very early example – it dates to the early 12th Dynasty in the Middle Kingdom not long after shabtis began to be a part of the funerary goods of the elite.
So it’s not surprising that some of the later standard features are missing – like the text on the front is an offering formula requesting offerings for the deceased rather than the shabti spell requesting the shabti to stand in and work for the deceased.
It also has no hands. Later examples generally have arms crossed on their chests and hold the tools of their trade (agricultural implements or overseer’s whips and flails) but this mummiform figure has his hands underneath his wrappings.
I particularly like the slender elegance of this piece, which probably arises from its maker working within the constraints of the piece of wood he had available. The face is also very striking and finely carved.
See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1637
I’ve written about shabtis on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/02/01/here-am-i/