Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Khonsu in falcon form, adorned with the moon disk and crescent moon.
Name in hieroglyphs
Major cult centerThebes
Symbolthe moon disk, the sidelock, falcon, crook and flail, was-scepter
ParentsAmun and Mut

Khonsu (Ancient Egyptian: ḫnsw; also transliterated Chonsu, Khensu, Khons, Chons or Khonshu; Coptic: Ϣⲟⲛⲥ, romanized: Shons) is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon. His name means 'traveller', and this may relate to the perceived nightly travel of the Moon across the sky. Along with Thoth, he marked the passage of time. Khonsu was instrumental in the creation of new life in all living creatures. At Thebes, he formed part of a family triad (the "Theban Triad") with Mut as his mother and Amun his father.



Khonsu's name means 'traveller' and therefore reflects the fact that the Moon (referred to as Iah in Egyptian) travels across the night sky. He was also referred to by the titles Embracer, Pathfinder, Defender, and healer, and was thought to watch over those who travel at night. As the god of light in the night, Khonsu was invoked to protect against wild animals, and aid with healing. It was said that when Khonsu caused the crescent moon to shine, women conceived, cattle became fertile, and all nostrils and every throat were filled with fresh air.


Painting depicting Khonsu in the tomb of Montuherkhepeshef, Valley of the Kings, western Thebes
Khonsu, the ancient Egyptian moon-god, was depicted either as a falcon wearing the moon-disk on his head (left) or as a human child

In art, Khonsu is typically depicted as a mummy with the symbol of childhood, a sidelock of hair, as well as the menat necklace with crook and flail. He has close links to other divine children such as Horus and Shu. He was also portrayed with the head of a falcon and like Horus, with whom he is associated as a protector and healer, adorned with the moon disk and crescent moon.[1]

Khonsu is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, in which he is depicted in a fierce aspect, but he does not rise to prominence until the New Kingdom, when he is described as the "Greatest God of the Great Gods". Most of the construction of the temple complex at Karnak was centered on Khonsu during the Ramesside period.[1] The Temple of Khonsu at Karnak is in a relatively good state of preservation, and on one of the walls is depicted a creation myth in which Khonsu is described as the great snake who fertilizes the Cosmic Egg in the creation of the world.[2]

Khonsu's reputation as a healer spread outside Egypt; the Bentresh stela records how a princess of Bekhten was instantly cured of an illness upon the arrival of an image of Khonsu.[3] King Ptolemy IV, after he was cured of an illness, called himself "Beloved of Khonsu Who Protects His Majesty and Drives Away Evil Spirits".

Locations of Khonsu's cult were Memphis, Hibis and Edfu.[1]

Prayer to Khonsu (1905) by Stefan Bakałowicz, a modern painting depicting priests worshiping Khonsu and the moon

Khonsu appears as a character in Marvel Comics, where the spelling of his name was changed to 'Khonshu'. In the comics, the character Moon Knight is the avatar of Khonshu and is also known as "The Fist of Khonshu".[4] Khonshu grants the protagonist Marc Spector supernatural abilities to fight evil in his name, enhancing his strength, endurance, and reflexes depending upon the phases of the moon, but also slowly drives him insane. Khonshu's nature changes depending on the writer; Doug Moench portrays Khonshu as a neutral figure, but later writers make him more active and malicious. It is often implied that this Khonshu is not a supernatural being at all, but a mental construct of Marc Spector, a hallucination, an alternate or dissociative personality, or a malicious alien parasite.[5] During Volume 2, Moon Knight is given special weapons by the cult of Khonshu.[6] Khonshu also appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) television series Moon Knight, voiced by F. Murray Abraham.[7]

In the film series Night at the Museum, Khonsu is the source of the magical Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which brings the museum exhibits to life each night. In the story of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the golden tablet was created by the high priest of the temple of Khonsu using Khonsu's magic. The tomb of Ahkmenrah was designed to channel "Khonsu's rays" (moonlight) down to the tablet, rejuvenating its powers every night. If the tablet is away from "Khonsu's light [for] too long", the exhibits that were brought to life will die.


See also



  1. ^ a b c Redford, Donald B., ed. (2003). The Oxford Guide: Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology. Berkley. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-425-19096-X.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Pinch, Geraldine (2002). Handbook of Egyptian Mythology. ABC-CLIO. p. 156. ISBN 1-57607-242-8.
  3. ^ This incident is mentioned in the opening of chapter one of Bolesław Prus' 1895 historical novel Pharaoh.
  4. ^ Moon Knight #1. Marvel Comics.
  5. ^ Marvel Spotlight #28. Marvel Comics.
  6. ^ "Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #1 – Night of the Jackal. Marvel Comics. 1 June 1985.
  7. ^ Leston, Ryan (15 February 2022). "Moon Knight Adds F. Murray Abraham as Khonshu". IGN. Archived from the original on 15 February 2022. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  • Media related to Khonsu at Wikimedia Commons