D is for…Dzunukwa

Dzunukwa is a Native American monster, a legend of the Kwakwaka’wakw nations on the central coast of British Columbia.  She’s generally depicted as very thin and very naked with large, swinging breasts, a lot of dark hair that fans out around her, and bright red lips. And she’s very, very, very tall.

DShe’s part of a family of giants who live in the forest, and she’s a not terribly smart or graceful. And that’s good, because she carries a basket on her back for transporting the disobedient children that she steals away and takes to her home to eat. Most of the children escape, though, as Dzunukwa is not only a bit dull and clumsy, but she also has poor eyesight.

But Dzunukwa isn’t all bad. She is in fact very wealthy, and she can also bring both good luck and fortune. Though some stories suggest that she can be befriended and will bestow any friend with much fortune and wealth, darker stories suggest that she can only be made to bestow wealthy and luck when she is controlled by kidnapping her child and holding it ransom.

Dzunukwa, in all her ferociousness, represents what we fear, in some ways, the most—cannibalism, especially from a woman, a mother. But rarely does she have the chance to really be ferocious. She looks frightening. And given the chance, of course, it seems that she’d gobble up little children for dinner.


She’s stupid and slow, vain and near-sighted. Clumsy. Unsubtle. Much like her body. Her body is large, and lumbering, and she has exaggerated features that emphasize her sex–the long, sweeping hair; the large, swinging breasts; and the red, red lips.

Dzunukwa also portends good luck and wealth, though. On occasion, she befriends someone and gives away wealth and luck. Sometimes that wealth is won by hurting her, by kidnapping her child.  And once again there is that question, that question of who the monsters really are.

Her dual nature is puzzling, but not unprecedented. Monsters, especially Lady Monsters, often tell us many things at once, if we listen to them.

Image via Flickr user Wonderlane
Image via Flickr user Wonderlane


Leave a Comment

    1. I think in many ways she is rendered as harmless because the poor eyesight and clumsiness make it hard for her to really catch and keep anyone.


    1. Glad you stopped by then!

      I did a lot of monster research when I was in school for my literature degree, and it’s fun to write about some of it now in a different capacity. 🙂


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