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In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa's myth as one of the two guardians of Anu's celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi[disambiguation needed]. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.
Lagash had a temple dedicated to Ningishzida, and Gudea, patesi of Lagash in the 21st century BC (short chronology), was one of his devotees. In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for king Gudea of Lagash, dedicated by its inscription: "To the god Ningiszida, his god Gudea, Ensi (governor) of Lagash, for the prolongation of his life, has dedicated this".
Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzidda's journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal. Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens.
His wife is Azimua and also Geshtinanna, while his sister is Amashilama. In some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means "Nin" would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. He or she was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.
Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining (some say copulation[who?]) around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a millennium. One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff. Although Wadjet 'the Green One', the serpent Goddess of Lower Egypt from the Pre-dynastic period demonstrates the earliest known representation of a single serpent entwined around a pole – in this case a papyrus reed (refer to first glyph): Wadjet Hieroglyph[unreliable source?]
In popular culture
The god appears in the Simon Necronomicon under the spelling Ninnghizhidda.
- Sumerian.org Q&A#20 (Ningishzida)
- Ningishzidda's journey to the netherworld on ETCSL
- Ira Maurice Price, Notes on the Pantheon of the Gudean Cylinders, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Oct., 1900), pp. 47-53 JSTOR 528092
- Sumerian Mythology: Chapter II. Myths of Origins
- Stephen Bertman, 'Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia'. p. 123.
- Princeton University professors Arthur Frothingham and Allan Marquand, 'American journal of archaeology'. p. 189.
- Turner, Frederick. Natural Religion. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-7658-0332-1.
- Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of Gods, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2002[unreliable source?]