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Welcome everybody to tonight´s presentation dedicated to Inanna, the Great Sumerian Goddess of Love and War. Before we start enacting this powerful myth, I will give s brief introduction on the Sumerians and their importance for us today.
Slide 3 showing the map of Ancient Mesopotamia
SUMER is located in the Southern half of modern Irak. Its climate is hot and dry, its soil is windswept, it has no minerals and very little stone and timber - indeed, a land doomed to poverty. The Sumerians, nevertheless, were a gifted, energetic people, inventive and resourceful, who with the help of irrigation and a pragmatic way of life turned this deprived land in a Garden of Eden.
It was in Sumer that the first great urban centres came into being, as well as the cuneiform system of writing, which was soon used all over ancient Near East. These great urban centres or temple estates were known as Eridu, Uruk, Larsa, Lagash, Nippur and Kish. Power alternated between them and community life was organised around the temple. Recorded evidence shows that by 5,000 BCE Eridu, city of Enki, the God of Wisdom, held the power, which by 4,000 BCE shifted to Uruk, Inanna's city.
Slide 4, showing Temple with zigurat in the middle
Slide 5, showing the Gate of Ishtar
Slide 6, Gate of Ishtar and Procession - a reconstruction
Slide 7, Reconstruction of a Temple Complex
There were close contacts among the temple estates, and a coherent culture. Sumerian civilisation deeply influenced the peoples of the Euphrates region, North Mesopotamia and parts of Iran.
Slide 8 - Ivory plaque of a woman at the window, a votaress in the character of a sacred servant of the temple, a hierodule, 900-800 BCE, Nimrud
Slide 9 - Ivory figure of a woman holding her breasts in offering. Pay attention to the elaborate crown and necklace.
Slide 10 - Fuzzy slide of Astarte, gold pendant
Slide 11 (29) - Statue in stone from the temple of Ishtar at Nineveh. Attendant of the goddess in her role as Goddess of Love
Sadly, centuries of competition resulted in bitter warfare and attempts of one city to impose hegemony over another or the even the whole region
Sumerian language may have been long established in the region, but has no known relatives. Written documents gradually became more easily understood and informative throughout this period. Sumerian tales, legends and songs are part of a vast literature. Evidence shows that indeed recorded history began at Sumer.
Slide 12 (59) - Original cuneiform tablet of the Descent of Ishtar, later version of the Sumerian myth of Inanna
Slide 13 - Reconstruction of a Temple
Slide 14 - The Bull of Heaven (BM)
Slide 15 - showing Chronology
8,000- 6,000 BCE - Early village settlements
4,000- 3,000 BCE - Uruk culture in South Mesopotamia, with
expansion to North and West
2,750-2,334 BCE - Dynastic Period II and III
2,000 BCE onwards - Disappearance of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. Sumer split into several estates due to security problems, i.e. infiltration of pastoralist Amorite tribes from the West. Subsequent rulers came from Amorite tribal background. Among them were the rulers of Babylon, now for the first time becoming representative in Mesopotamia.
Slide 16 (27) Mould made votive palque of goddess Astarte or her votaress 1550-1300 BCE
Slide 17 - Inanna, Ishtar or Astarte 2400 BCE
This evening is dedicated to the Sumerian Great Goddess of Love and War, Inanna, the Morning and Evening Star and First Daughter of the the Moon, later known as Ishtar/Astarte.
Most words you will hear tonight were written around 3,000 BCE.
The myth will be told in five parts:
1. The Huluppu Tree
2. The Giving of the Sacred Measures
3. The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi
4. The Descent of Inanna
5. The Return
Special thanks to my fellow performers and to Rick Gibson, for the FX.
May Inanna lend us graces, as we sing to Her tonight
May the hymns come to life to ensoul our hearts
And may they again become a living force to grow and transform. (Music)
Narrator: In the first days, in the very first days / In the first nights, in the very first nights
In the first years, in the very first years / In the first days when everything needed was brought into being / In the first days when everything needed was properly nourished
When bread was baked in the shrines of the land
And bread was tasted in the homes of the land
When heaven had moved away from earth
And earth had separated from heaven
And the name of man was fixed / When the Sky God, An, had carried off the heavens,
And the Air God, Enlil had carried off the earth,
When the Queen of the Great Below, Ereshkigal,
was given the Underworld for Her domain
At that time, a tree, a single tree, a huluppu tree
Was planted by the banks of the Euphrates
The whirling South Wind aInanna, pulling at its roots
And ripping at its branches
Until the waters of the Euphrates carried it away
A woman who walked in the fear of the word of the Sky God, An,
Who walked in the fear of the Air God, Enlil,
Plucked the Tree from the river and spoke:
(Lights focusing on Inanna, who will be 'planting and taking care of' a tree)
' I shall bring this tree to Uruk
I shall plant this tree in my holy garden".
INANNA cared for the tree with her hand
She settled the earth around the tree with her foot
She wondered:
"How long will it be until I have a shining throne to sit upon?
How long will it be until I have a shining bed to lie upon?"
As the years passed by, five years, then ten years, Inanna kept wondering about her throne and bed. Who could help Inanna in her quest for Sovereignty to share?
Only a hero on the make could he be
A hero seeking for the Goddess without and within.
Finally he came, at the coming of the dawn, the hero came
Gilgamesh, hero of Uruk, Strength untamed
Slide 19 - Display Inanna and Gilgamesh sitting under the Tree
From the trunk of the tree Gilgamesh carved a throne for his holy sister
From the trunk of the tree Gilgamesh carved a bed for Inanna
From the roots of the tree she fashioned a ring for ther brother
From the crown of the tree Inanna fashioned a rod for Gilgamesh
Thus Goddess and Hero sit together as Friends
And so this Great Myth begins.
Slide 20 - The Sacred Measures and music
Narrator: Inanna placed the crown on her head
She went to the sheepfold, to the shepherd
She leaned back against the apple tree
When she leaned against the apple tree, her vulva was wondrous to behold
Rejoicing at her wondrous vulva, Inanna applauded herself
Inanna: 'I, the Queen of Heaven, shall visit the God of Wisdom
I shall honor Enki, the God of Wisdom, in Eridu
I shall utter a prayer to Enki at the deep sweet waters.'
Narrator: Inanna set out by herself.
When she was within a short distance of the Sacred Place in Eridu
He, who knows the Sacred Measures, the holy laws of heaven and earth
He, who knows the heart of the gods,
Enki, the God of Wisdom, saw her coming and ordered:
Enki: 'When Inanna enters the holy shrine,
She must be given butter cake to eat.
And cold water to refresh her heart
I'll offer her beer before the statue of the lion
I'll treat her like an equal.
Only then we will drink and toast together.'
Narrator: Enki and Inanna drank beer together
They drank more beer together
They drank more and more beer together
With their bronze vessels filled to the overflowing
They toasted each other, they challenged each other.
Enki, swaying with drink, toasted Inanna:
Enki: 'In the name of my power! In the name of my holy shrine!
To my daughter Inanna I shall give
The high priesthood! Godship!
The noble, enduring crown! The throne of kingship!'
Inanna: 'I take them!'
Enki (raises his cup and toasts Inanna a second time):
'In the name of my power! In the name of my holy shrine!
To my daughter Inanna I shall give Truth! Descent into the Underworld!
Ascent from the Underworld! The art of lovemaking! The kissing of the phallus!'
Inanna: 'I take them!'
Enki (raising his cup and toasting Inanna a third time):
'In the name of my power! In the name of my holy shrine!
To my daughter Inanna I shall give
The holy priestess of heaven!
The setting up of lamentations! The rejoicing of the heart!
The giving of judgements! The making of decisions!'
Inanna: 'I take them!'
Narrator: Fourteen times Enki raised his cup to Inanna
Fourteen times he offered his daughter the Holy Measures
Fourteen times Inanna accepted the Sacred Measures.
Then Inanna standing before her father
Acknowledged the Measures Enki had given to her.
Inanna: 'My father has given me the Heavenly and Earthly Powers
Now it is time for me to go back
I'll go back to my Holy Shrine
I'll go back to Uruk.'
Narrator: Inanna gathered then all the Holy Measures
The Sacred Measures were placed on the Boat of Heaven
The Boat of Heaven set off to Uruk.
When the beer had gone out from the one who had drunk beer
When the beer had gone out from Father Enki
When the beer had gone out from the great God of Wisdom
Enki looked about his Temple and, not finding the Sacred Measures, called out loud:
Enki: 'The high priesthood? Godship? The noble enduring crown? Where are they?'
'The art of the hero? The art of power? The making of decisions? Where are they?
I can't find them! Oh... I remember! I ... I gave the Sacred Measures to my daughter! I gave them all to Inanna!'
Enki(Enki then speaks to Inanna, saying) :
'Inanna, you can proceed to Uruk
But the Sacred Measures should be returned to Eridu
Otherwise you will be challenged by my powers!'
Inanna: 'My father has changed his word to me!
He has violated his pledge - broken his promise!
Deceitfully my father spoke to me!
Narrator: Scarcely had Inanna uttered these words
Wild haired monsters sent by Enki seized the Boat of Heaven
Inanna called to her servant Ninshubur, saying:
Inanna: 'Come, Ninshubur, once you were Queen of the East,
Now you are the faithful servant of the holy shrine of Uruk
My counsellor, who gives me sound advice,
My warrior who fights by my side,
Save the Boat of Heaven with the sacred measures!'
Ninshubur:My Lady, I stand here to serve you! Together we will protect the Measures
Together we will take them to Uruk
(She traces a sigil in the air and utters an earth-shattering cry)
Look, my Lady! The wild haired monsters are sent hurling back to Eridu!
One, two, three, four, five, six times
Enki sent demons to retrieve the Holy Measures
Each time more powerful, each time more treacherous
But each time Ninshubur rescued the Boat for Inanna
Ninshubur:'My queen, when the Boat of Heaven enters the Nigulla Gate of Uruk
Let high water flow in our city; Let the people rejoice!'
Inanna: 'On the day the Boat of Heaven enters the Nigulla Gate of Uruk
Let high water sweep over the streets
Let all my people rejoice!
Let the drums and tambourines resound
Let sweet music be played
Let all the lands proclaim my noble name
Let my people sing my praises!'
Narrator: And so it was.
In Eridu, Father Enki, who knows the hearts of all gods, spoke:
Enki: 'The Boat of Heaven has docked at the White Quay in Uruk
The queen has aroused wonder at the White Quay
Inanna has aroused wonder at the White Quay
For the Boat of Heaven has arrived at Uruk.'
The Sacred Measures were being unloaded
As the Holy Measures were unloaded
They were announced and presented to the people of Sumer
Then more Sacred Measures appeared - more me then Enki had given Inanna
And these, too, were announced,
And these, too, were presented to the people of Uruk
'Inanna brought the Sacred Measures
She brought the placing of the garment on the ground
She brought allure
She brought the art of women
She brought the perfect execution of the Measures
She brought drums and tambourines.'
Inanna: 'Where the Boat of Heaven has docked
That place shall be called the White Quay
Where the holy measures have been presented
That place I shall name the Lapis Lazuli Quay.'
Narrator: Then Enki spoke to Inanna, saying:
Enki: 'In the name of my power! In the name of my holy shrine!
Let the measures that you have taken with you remain in the holy shrine of
your city!
Let the high priest spend his days at the holy shrine in song.
Let the citizens of your city prosper,
Let the children of Uruk rejoice.
The people of Uruk are allies of the people of Eridu
Let the city of Uruk be restored to its great place!'
Inanna: Tonight the Sacred Measures are also given to the People of Talking Stick. Please take one of the Sacred Measures contained in this silk pouch! May the blessings of Inanna and Enki descend upon us all!
Slide 20 showing the 'Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi
Utu, the Son God: The brother spoke to this younger sister
The Sun God, Utu, spoke to Inanna, saying:
'Young Lady, the flax in its fullness is lovely,
Inanna, the grain is glistening in the furrow.
I will hoe it for you, I will bring it to you
A piece of linen, big or small, is always needed.
Inanna, I will bring it to you.'
Inanna: 'Brother, after you've brought me the flax, who will comb it for me?
Utu: Sister, I will bring it to you combed.'
Inanna: 'Utu, after you've brought it to me combed, who will spin it for me?
Utu: 'Sister, I will bring it to you spun.'
Inanna: 'Brother, after you've brought the flax to me spun, who will braid it for me?
Utu: 'Sister, I will bring it to you braided.'
Inanna: 'Utu, after you've brought it to me braided, who will warp it for me?'
Utu: 'Inanna, I will bring it to you warped.'
Inanna:'Brother, after you've brought the flax to me warped, who will weave it for me?'
Utu: 'Sister, I will bring it to you woven.'
Inanna: 'Utu, after you've brought it to me woven, who will bleach it for me?'
Utu: 'Inanna, I will bring it to you bleached.'
Inanna: 'Brother, after you've brought my bridal sheet to me,
Who will go to bed with me?
Utu, who will go to bed with me?'
Utu: 'Sister, your bridegroom will go to be with you
He who was born from a fertile womb,
He who was conceived on the sacred marriage throne
Dumuzi, the shepherd! He will go to bed with you.'

(The couple acts out the words told by the Narrator)

Narrator: Inanna bathed and annointed herself with scented oil.
She covered her body with the royal robe
She arranged her precious lapis beads around her neck
She took the royal seal in her hand
Dumuzi waited expectantly
Inanna opened the door for him
Inside the house she shone before him
Like the light of the moon
Dumuzi looked at her joyously, he pressed his neck close against hers, he kissed her
Inanna: 'Let the bed that rejoices the heart be prepared!
Let the bed that sweetens the loins be prepared!
Let the bed of kingship be prepared!
Let the bed of queenship be prepared!
Let the royal bed be prepared!'
Inanna spreads the bridal sheet across the bed: 'The bed is ready! 'The bed is waiting!'
Inanna (Dance: lines read out)
'What I tell you, let the singer weave into song
What I tell you, let it flow from ear to mouth
Let it pass from old to young.
'My vulva, the horn, the Boat of Heaven,
Is full of eagerness like the young moon
As for me, Inanna, who will plow my vulva?
Who will plow my high field?
Who will plow my wet ground?
As for me, the young woman, who will plow my vulva?
Dumuzi: 'Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva.
I, Dumuzi, the King, will plow your vulva!'
Inanna: 'Then plow my vulva, man of my heart!
Plow my vulva!'
Dumuzi: 'O Lady, your breast is your field
Inanna, your breast is your field.
Your broad field pours out plants
Your broad field pours out grain.
Water flows from on high for your servant
Bread flows from on high for your servant
Pour it out for me, Inanna,
I will drink all you offer!
Inanna: 'I bathed for the wild bull
I bathed for the shepherd Dumuzi
Now I will caress my high priest on the bed
I will caress the faithful shepherd Dumuzi
I will decree a sweet fate for him!'
Narrator: The Queen of Heaven who was presented the Sacred Measures by Enki
Inanna, the first daughter of the moon, decreed the fate of Dumuzi.
Inanna: 'In battle, I am your leader
In combat, I am your armour-bearer
In the assembly, I am your advocate
On the campaign, I am your inspiration
You, the chosen shepherd of the holy shrine
You, the king, the faithful provider of Uruk,
You, the light of An's great shrine
In all ways you are fit
To hold your head high on the lofty dais
To sit on the lapis lazuli throne
To cover your head with the holy crown
To wear long clothes on your body
To bind yourself with the garment of kingship
To race on the road with the holy sceptre in your hand
And the holy sandals on you feet
You, the sprinter, the chosen shepherd
In all ways I find you fit
May your heart enjoy long days.
That which An determined for you - may it not be altered
That which Enlil has granted - may it not be altered
You are the favourite of Ningal
Inanna holds you dear.'
Ninshubur, the faithful servant of the holy shrine of Uruk
Led Dumuzi to the sweet thighs of Inanna and spoke:
Slide 21 - The couple embraced in bed
Ninshubur (taking Dumuzi's hand and placing it in Inanna's)
'My queen, here is the choice of your heart
The king, your beloved bridegroom
May he spend long days in the sweetness of your holy loins
Give him a favourable and glorious reign!
O my Queen of Heaven and Earth
Queen of all the Universe
May he enjoy long days in the sweetness of your holy loins!'
The king went with lifted head on the holy loins
Dumuzi went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna
He went to the Queen with lifted head
He opened his arms to the holy Priestess of Heaven
Slide 22 - The Descent of Inanna
From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below
From the Great Above the Goddess opened her ear to the Great Below
From the Great Above Inanna opened her ear to the Great Below
She abandoned her seven holy temples to descend to the underworld
She gathered together the seven Holy Measures
She took them into her hands
With the Holy Measures in her possession
She prepared herself
She placed the crown on her head
She arranged the dark locks of hair across her forehead
She tied beads around her neck
Let the double strand of beads fall to her breast
And wrapped the royal robe round her body
She daubed her eyes with ointment called 'let him come, let him come!'
Bound the breastplate called 'come, man,come!' around her chest
Slipped the gold ring over her wrist
And took the lapis measuring rod and line in her hand.
Inanna spoke to her faithful servant Ninshubur:
'Ninshubur, my support and counsellor,
My warrior who fights by my side. I am descending to the underworld
If I do not return, set up a lament for me
Go to see the Great Ones, Enlil, Nanna and Enki
Do not let this holy priestess of heaven
Be put to death in the underworld
Go to see the Great Gods
For surely they will not let me die
Go now, Ninshubur. Do not forget the words I have commanded you.'
Ninshubur:'Your wish is my command, my lady, I'll do as I am told'.
Narrator:When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the underworld
She knocked loudly.
Inanna: 'Open the door! I alone would enter!'
Narrator:Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur, asked: 'Who are you? Why has your heart led you on the road of no return?'
Inanna:'I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East'.
I came ... because of my older sister Ereshkigal,
Her husband, Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven has died.
I have come to witness the funeral rites. Let it be done'.
Narrator :The chief gatekeeper of the underworld, entered the palace of Ereshkigal,
the Queen of the Underworld, and said:'My queen, your sister, Inanna, Queen of Heaven, waits outside the palace gates.She has gathered together the Seven Sacred Measures; She waits out there.'
Ereshkigal: (She hears the message, makes a sign of annoyance, takes the matter into her heart and finally speaks): 'So my sister is here! Come, my chief gatekeeper, heed my words:
Bolt the seven gates of the underworld
Then, one by one, open each gate a crack
Let Inanna enter, let my sister in
But as she enters, remove her royal garments
Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low.'
At each gate Inanna had to leave a garment
At each of the seven gates Inanna had to surrender a Sacred Measure
Only then, naked and bowed low
She could enter Eternity
She could face the Holy, Dark and Eternal Ereshkigal
Inanna (kneels in front of Ereshkigal):
Ereshkigal strikes Inanna dead: 'I'll turn you into a corpse, a piece of rotting meat, stay there, hanging on a hook on the wall'.
Narrator:After three days and three nights, Inanna had not returned
Ninshubur set up a lament for her everywhere
Ninshubur, the faithful servant, dressed as a beggar in mourning
Set out for the temple of the Great Gods
To seek out help for Inanna.
Ninshubur (talking to Enki/Enki):'Father Enki, God of Wisdom, help our Morning and Evening Star
Or the world will never be the same as it was'.
Enki:'I'll fashion a kurgarra and a galatur,Creatures neither male nor female, saying to them:
'Go to the Underworld, where Ereshkigal, the Queen, is moaning as a woman about to give birth
Show her compassion, she will be pleased. She will offer you a gift
Ask her only for the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.
Sprinkle food of life on it, sprinkle water of life on it. Inanna will then arise.'
Narrator:The kurgarra and the galatur did as they were told. They found Ereshkigal moaning as in labour, and gave compassion to the Queen of the Underworld.
No one has ever shown compassion to me
Alone I live in the depths of the Earth
As you cared about my pain
I grant your wish
Take Inanna's body! It is yours: take it!'
Inanna's body was given to the kurgarra and the galatur,
Who sprinkled it with food and water of life
Inanna came back to life...
But she had been to the Underworld
She was transformed, she was reborn
So changed, Inanna could not ascend
Ereshkigal:Inanna, no one ascends from the underworld unmarked
If you wish to return from the Underworld
You must provide someone in your place.
As Inanna ascended from the underworld
The galla, demons clung to her
One walking in front, the other walking behind
Ever watchful for a replacement for the Goddess in sight.
Many were those who mourned for the Goddess,
Many were those who grieved for Inanna.
Many rejoiced as they saw her back.
Only in Uruk nothing seemed to have changed
Only in Uruk someone didn't seem to notice or care
About Inanna's absence and strange come back.
Only Dumuzi, who shared with her the Sacred Marriage bed,
Didn't grieve, didn't mourn or for the Goddess showed despair.
In shining garments, on the throne of sovereignty he sat
Dumuzi the Shepherd and King.
Bright as the sun, showing no signs of grief or concern.
Inanna fastened on him the eye of death
And spoke the word of wrath and pain:
Inanna: 'Take the one who didn't grieve for me, take him, take Dumuzi away!'
Narrator: The galla didn't wait or hesitate, and took Dumuzi from the Goddess' sight away.
Slide 23 - showing The Return and Music
A lament was raised in the city:
'My lady weeps bitterly for her young husband
Inanna weepes bitterly for her young husband
Woe for her husband! Woe for her young love!
Dumuzi was taken captive in Uruk
He will no longer bathe in Eridu
He will no longer soap himself at the holy shrine
He will no longer treat the mother of Inanna as his mother
He will no longer compete with the young men of the city
He will no longer raise his sword higher than the high priests
Great is the grief of those who mourn for Dumuzi'
'Gone is my husband, my sweet husband!
Gone is my love, my sweet love.
My beloved has been taken from the city.
My beloved bridegroom has been taken from me
Before I could wrap whim with a proper shroud. '
But Inanna does not grieve alone.
Geshtinanna, Dumuzi's sister,
Wandered about the city, weeping for Dumuzi.
I grieve for my brother, lady, I grieve for the king
Where is the Shepherd Dumuzi, my favourite kin?
When she saw the sister's grief,
When Inanna saw the grief of Geshtinanna
She spoke to her gently:
'Your brother's house is no more
Dumuzi has been carried away by the galla
I would take you to him
But I do not know the place.'
Then a fly appeared, the holy fly circled the air above Inanna's head
It told the goddess where Dumuzi had been taken, where Dumuzi was
Inanna and Geshtinanna went to the edges of the steppe
They found Dumuzi weeping
Inanna then took Dumuzi by the hand and said:
'You will go to the Underworld half the year
Your sister, since she has asked, will go the other half
On the day you are called, that day you'll be taken.
On the day Geshtinanna is called, that day you'll be set free.'
(Inanna places Dumuzi and Geshtinanna the hands of Ereshkigal, bows and lends graces to her Holy Sister):
Inanna: Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!Holy Ereshkigal! I sing you praises!
Ereshkigal: I accept this Mortal man and woman as Initiates of Inanna and Ereshkigal
(Ereshkigal and Inanna hug each other)

(Music and Drums)