(Dunawy) Dunanwy, whose name means ‘he of the outstretched wings’ or ‘claws’, on which see below, is depicted as a hawk. Dunanwy is mentioned several times along with Horus, Seth and Thoth, e.g. in PT utterances 25, 35 and 591, the four Gods representing the cardinal points, with Dunanwy representing the east, Thoth the west, Seth the south and Horus the north. The spells in question concern the offering of various substances – incense, natron, an unidentified plant in spell 354 of the Coffin Texts – as well as the donning of the shesmet, a belt with an apron of beads and tassels. In PT utterance 25, the four Gods in question, along with Osiris and Khenty-irty, are each said to have, like the king “gone to (or with) his ka,” that is, to have gone, like the king, to the other world and to share his fate there, namely receiving pure offerings of the kind known symbolically as the ‘Eye of Horus’. In PT utterance 246, Dunanwy is a sort of divine herald, perhaps on account of his station at the east, announcing twice that the deceased king “shall give orders to the fathers of the Gods,” that is, the other divinized kings. Similarly, Dunanwy is called upon in utterance 217 to “go and proclaim to the eastern souls and their spirits: ‘This King comes indeed, an imperishable spirit. Whom he wishes to live will live; whom he wishes to die will die’.” In utterance 506 the deceased king identifies himself with Dunanwy just after having identified himself successively with each of the sons of Horus (Hapy, Duamutef, Imsety and Kebehsenuf), and in utterance 720 Dunanwy, along with an unidentified deity named Wadj-Merut, are ‘second’ and ‘third’ respectively to the deceased king, who is ascending to the sky.
CT spell 383 refers to a ‘House of Dunanwy’ which seems to be in the east or north of the sky. This may refer to the constellation Cygnus, which can be called Dunanwy and depicted as a hawk-headed man extending his arms and holding a lance or a rope (Papyrus Jumilhac, p. 29). The name Dunanwy has also been interpreted as ‘He who extends his arms’ or ‘claws/talons’. The talons or claws would be those of the falcon, or perhaps some other animal associated with Dunanwy – a cheetah or griffin has been suggested as an alternative theriomorphic identity for him, in part because the word ân.t, ‘claw’, which occurs also in the name of the God Anty, seems properly to refer to a mammalian claw, rather than a hawk’s talon. (For the griffin hypothesis with respect to both these Gods, see Altenmüller, pp. 156-162.) The extended arms of the humanoid figure, with weapons, would thus suggest the talons or claws of the animal. In spell 531 of the Coffin Texts, the back of the head is identified with Dunanwy, which perhaps, along with his name, alludes to a form in which Horus can be depicted in statuary (e.g., the famous statue of King Khafre in the Cairo Museum), namely as tutelary deity of the king, perched upon his back and spreading his wings to cover the back of the king’s head. This function is alluded to in the Jumilhac Papyrus, where the name of Dunanwy is given to Anubis when he transforms into a falcon, “opening his arms (i.e. wings) behind his father Osiris” (IV, 2-3). Another commentary on the name Dunanwy comes later in the papyrus, where it says that the name refers to “Horus behind his father Osiris” (VIII, 1). Further light is shed on the meaning of this gesture by CT spell 532, a spell for fixing on the head. Although the translation has been disputed, part of this spell has been read as “Dunanwy renders me invisible with his arms,” (Papyrus Jumilhac, p. 31). Another interpretation of the gesture of the outstretched wings is that it denotes taking flight. Thus, in the Jumilhac Papyrus, Anubis, assuming the form of Dunanwy, “extends his wings, in the form of a falcon, to fly with them in search of his own eye, and he returns it, intact, to his master,” (IV, 4-5), where the eye in question is the Eye of Horus, Anubis therefore identifying himself here not only with Dunanwy but also with Horus (viz. “his own eye”). The gesture is again one of taking flight at VII, 24, where “Dunanwy, the falcon with wings outstretched,” is explained as “Shu, when his soul [manifestation] … takes to the sky, in the form of Dunanwy, in the presence of his son Geb.” Such passages are not to be taken to mean that, e.g., Dunanwy is actually none other than Anubis or Shu, but rather as illustrating the nature of Dunanwy through the lens, so to speak, of other Gods being interpreted expansively and glorified through adopting the attributes of other deities.
If, as has been speculated, Dunanwy is not only conceived as a hawk, but also as a cheetah – perhaps given wings to convey the idea of its speed – or as a griffin, then Dunanwy may have contributed to the evolution of the symbol of the Eye of Horus, the wedjat, inasmuch as this eye is depicted in a manner which has been thought to incorporate elements of a human eye, a hawk’s eye, and a leopard or cheetah’s eye, elements which may have been fused in Dunanwy. The reference to outstretched wings or, literally, arms, in Dunanwy’s name may also imply a myth analogous to that of Horus recounted in CT spell 158/BD spell 113, “for knowing the souls of Nekhen [Hierakonpolis],” in which the hands or arms of Horus are cut off by Isis and thrown into the water, becoming fish, thus acting as the God’s operative ‘limbs’ in the world. Dunanwy’s outstretched ‘arms’ might thus refer in similar fashion to his ability to project his power into the world and intervene in its events.
Altenmüller, Hartwig. 1965. Die Apotropaia und die Götter Mittelägyptens: Eine typologische und religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung der sogenannten “Zaubermesser” des Mittleren Reichs. Vol. I. (Diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität zu München).