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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Sumerian Art : Standing Female Votive Figure of Inanna
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Standing Female Votive Figure of Inanna - OF.203
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 2500 BC to 1700 BC
Dimensions: 3.0" (7.6cm) high
Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Stone


Additional Information: f

Location: Great Britain
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Description
Sumerian Religion and Deities :

The major deities in the Sumerian pantheon included An, the god of the heavens; Enlil, the god of wind and storm; Enki, the god of water and human culture; Ninhursag, the goddess of fertility and the earth; Utu, the god of the sun and justice; and his father Nanna, the god of the moon. During the Akkadian period and afterward, Inanna, the goddess of sex, beauty, and warfare was widely venerated across Sumer and appeared in many myths.

In short, it can be described as polytheistic religion, with a strong belief in the efficacy and necessity of ritual, which expressed human dependence on the divine while at the same time enabling a reciprocal relationship between the two. The principal members of the pantheon were anthropomorphic and had joint roles, on a local level being identified with particular cities and on a regional level, contributing to the cultural continuity that united Sumer. The pantheon of gods remained fluid and, paralleling the human form of deities, was organised on the same principles as human institutions. It was this fluidity that enabled the pantheon to develop, to found its speculation about the physical universe, and subsequently expand to include deities of pastoral and arable farming, and then of skills such as metal working and writing, as well as of objects symbolising political status, a divine patronage thus stimulating and reinforcing socio- economic and political change. 

Inanna (or Inana) was the paramount goddess of the Sumerian pantheon. As a goddess of fertility of the natural world, she headed a long line of historical female deities concerned with fertility of the natural world. Also as a warrior goddess, was the daughter of the moon goddess Nana, and sister of Utu, the god of justice; and Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld. In an alternative tradition, she is considered as the daughter of An.

The significance of her position within the spectrum of female Mesopotamian deities was highly unusual: while she was a fertility goddess, she was never considered as the “mother goddess” nor as an exemplary wife. Her independence and strong spirit was well coveted across all of Asia Minor, traits well- illustrated in survivng cuneiforms. A number of famous mythological stories and legends have been written on her, that narrate her infamous descent to the underworld and those that reveal her relationship with her husband, the shepherd king Dumuzid. 

What is particularly noteworthy is that the first identified named author known to humanity was the chief priestess of Inanna, called Enhaduanna, who produced books of priase and chronicles detailing the life of the goddess. As a popular figure in literature and mythology, she is often shown armed or with a star or a rose. The gradual extension of her role to the patron goddess of wool, meat and grain and ultimately to the whole of the natural world, is revealing of the socio- economic changes that took place in the Sumerian civilisation. In later civilisations, Inanna takes form of Ishtar in Akkadian and Assyrian context, Sauska in the Hittite culture and Astarte in the Phoenician religion. (SY)
- (OF.203)

 

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