ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian bestiary: Swans
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Source: Davis - The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatankhamanou.-
Wooden swan
Tomb of Horemheb, KV 57
Source: Theodore M. Davis et al. The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou. London 1912, pl. LXXVII.

      Unlike various kinds of geese and ducks, swans are not indigenous to Egypt. Only occasionally stray Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) and Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) into the country, wintering there. Depictions of them are accordingly rare. In the tomb of Kagemni a man is shown force-feeding what looks like a swan, while another swan is trying to bite the man.
    The Egyptian term for 'swan' is uncertain, though SnSn (translit. DnDn) has been proposed to denote the whooper swan, based on the name's similarity to a coptic word meaning 'to sing'.[2]
    axy (translit. axy) has also been suggested, the word being used in the Abydos Decree of Seti I, where the king dedicates, among other things, watery regions rich in birds to the temple of Abydos:
He has provided it with watery regions in his marshes, as numerous as sand on the beach. His temple is looked upon as the marshes of Chemmis (Akhbit) according to the screaming of the water birds, the geese and all the birds of the watery region. The axy-birds breed for him in his domain.
Nauri Stela [1]

[1] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Historisch-rhetorische K&oiml;nigstexte (19.Dynastie) => Nauri => Nauri-Felsstele => Abydos-Dekret
[2] Zahi A. Hawass, Mamdouh Mohamed Eldamaty, Mai Trad Egyptian Museum collections around the world, Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2002, p.84

© September 2005
October 2009