Horus as a Falcon

Statue of Horus as a Falcon
Ptolemaic period, late 4th century-3rd century BCE
Basalt (Stone), 42.2 x 18.4 x 44.5 cm (16 5/8 x 7 1/4 x 17 1/2 in.)
Gift of the Alsdorf Foundation, Art Institute of Chicago #2002.632
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry

The placement of this piece by a museum window allowed a strong contrast of light and shadow which really brings out its form visually.

It's an apt placement for the deity whose emblem is his vision. The falcon's vision became a symbol for the pharoah as he needed good long distance vision as he ruled his kingdom.

Thoth, who healed the gods Set and Horus after their battle, presents Horus with his eye:


Ape of Thoth, sitting holding sacred eye in front of chest
Oriental Institute Museum 10658
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry
(From info card)
"The ancient Egyptians believed their pharoah was the earthly incarnation of the great sky god Horus, who is depicted either as a falcon-headed man or the bird itself, a symbol of speed, power, and hunting prowess. Although the veneration of Horus as the symbol of the king is attested from the beginning of the Dynastic Period (c. 3100 BCE), the cult of the Horus-king gained unprecedented prominence during the Ptolemaic Period."

Raneb's stela of the 2nd Dynasty shows the two elements of the king's Horus name, Ra-neb, carved within the serekh or palace fašade, which is surmounted by the god Horus as a falcon:

Stela of Raneb
Egyptian, Dynasty 2, ca. 2880 BCE
Granite, said to be from Mit Rahina, ancient Memphis
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1960 (MMA 60.144) and Purchase Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1975 (MMA 1975, 149)
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry

Pepi I from the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom has the Horus falcon at his shoulder:

Cult Statuette of Pepy I with Horus Falcon
Egyptian alabaster, 10 7/16 x 6 3/16 in. (26.5 x 15.7 cm) Other (Throne): 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, 2292-2252 B.C.E.
Probably from Upper Egypt, likely fron a temple's innermost room
Brooklyn Museum 39.120, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Photo © Joan Lansberry, May 2008

Note the back of Pepi's throne is showing the serekh hieroglyph.

The Metropolitan Museum has an example of Late Period Horus and Pharaoh:

Nectanebo-the-Falcon (?)
Late Period, 30th Dynasty, reign of Nectanebo II (360-343 BCE)
Graywacke, probably from Heliopolis
Rogers Fund, 1934 (MMA 34.2.1)
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry

As the centuries go by, the falcon gets bigger and the pharaoh gets smaller, until in the Ptolemaic period, there is sometimes no pharaoh shown at all! In the case of an unpopular pharaoh, this is probably a wise choice!