IN PICTURES, MUSIC AND DRAMA
BASED ON WOLKENSTEIN AND KRAMER
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 a brief introduction on the Sumerians and their importance for
us today. Slide
3 showing the map of Ancient Mesopotamia
1: The Sumerians
Introduction 2: Chronology
: The Huluppu Tree
Part 2: The Giving of the sacred measures
Part 3: The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi
Part 4: The Descent of Inanna
Part 5: The Return
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
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
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
Slide 16 (27)
Mould made votive palque of goddess Astarte or her votaress 1550-1300
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.
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)
THE HULUPPU TREE
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
"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
THE GIVING OF THE SACRED MEASURES
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
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.'
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:
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.'
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
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
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
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.
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.'
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
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!'
father has changed his word to me! He
has violated his pledge - broken his promise! Deceitfully
my father spoke to me!
had Inanna uttered these words Wild
haired monsters sent by Enki seized the Boat of Heaven Inanna
called to her servant Ninshubur, saying:
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!'
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
queen, when the Boat of Heaven enters the Nigulla Gate of Uruk Let
high water flow in our city; Let the people rejoice!'
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!'
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.' Narrator:
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.'
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.'
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!'
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
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.'
after you've brought me the flax, who will comb it for me?
I will bring it to you combed.'
after you've brought it to me combed, who will spin it for me?
I will bring it to you spun.'
after you've brought the flax to me spun, who will braid it for me?
I will bring it to you braided.'
after you've brought it to me braided, who will warp it for me?'
I will bring it to you warped.'
after you've brought the flax to me warped, who will weave it for me?'
I will bring it to you woven.'
after you've brought it to me woven, who will bleach it for me?'
I will bring it to you bleached.'
after you've brought my bridal sheet to me, Who
will go to bed with me? Utu,
who will go to bed with me?'
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.'
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
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!'
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?
Lady, the king will plow your vulva. I,
Dumuzi, the King, will plow your vulva!'
plow my vulva, man of my heart! Plow
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.
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
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
THE DESCENT OF INANNA
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:
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'.
Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the underworld She
the door! I alone would enter!'
the chief gatekeeper of the kur, asked: 'Who are you? Why has your heart led you
on the road of no return?'
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'.
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.'
(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):
Inanna dead: 'I'll turn you into a corpse, a piece of rotting meat, stay there,
hanging on a hook on the wall'.
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.
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'.
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.'
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
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:
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
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
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:
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:
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):
Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!Holy Ereshkigal! I sing you praises!
I accept this Mortal man and woman as Initiates of Inanna and Ereshkigal
(Ereshkigal and Inanna hug
To The Top
To Inanna Texts