Statues of Gudea

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Diorite Statue I, Louvre
Statue O in Copenhagen
For the cylinders of Gudea, see Gudea cylinders.

So far twenty-seven statues of Gudea, a ruler (ensi) of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled ca. 2144 - 2124 BC, have been found, and numbered A-AA. A-K were found during Ernest de Sarzec's excavations in the court of the palace of Adad-nadin-ahhe in Telloh (ancient Girsu). Statues M-Q come from clandestine excavations in Telloh in 1924; the rest come from the art trade, with unknown provenances and sometimes of doubtful authenticity. Figures L and R do not represent Gudea with reasonable certainty. The statues were to represent the ruler in temples, to offer a constant prayer in his stead; offerings were made to these. Most of the statues bear an inscribed dedication explaining to which god it was dedicated. Gudea is either sitting or standing; in one case (N), he holds a water-jug au vase jaillissant. He normally wears a close fitting kaunakes, maybe made of sheep-skin, and a long tasseled dress. Only in one example (M, Soclet-statue) he wears a different dress, reminiscent of the Akkadian royal costume (torso of Manishtushu). On the lap of one of them (statue B) is the plan of his palace, with the scale of measurement attached. Statue F is similar to statue B; both are missing their heads, and have on their lap a board with a measuring scale and a stylus, only statue F doesn't have a ground plan.

It seems that the early statues are small and made of more local stones (limestone, steatite and alabaster); later, when wide-ranging trade-connections had been established, the more costly exotic diorite was used. Diorite had already been used by old Sumerian rulers (Statue of Entemena). According to the inscriptions, the diorite (or gabbro, na4esi) came from Magan.

The dedication of the diorite statues normally tell how ensi Gudea had diorite brought from the mountains of Magan, formed it as a statue of himself, called by name to honour god/goddess (x) and had the statue brought into the temple of (y). Most of the big (almost lifesize, D is even bigger than life) statues are dedicated to the top gods of Lagash: Ningirsu, his wife Ba'u, the goddesses Gatumdu and Inanna and Ninhursanga as the "Mother of the gods". Q is dedicated to Ningiszida, Gudea's personal protective deity more properly connected to Fara and Abu Salabikh, the smaller M, N and O to his "wife" Gestinanna. The connection between Ningiszida and Gestinanna was probably invented by Gudea in order to effect a closer connection to Lagash.

number material size posture provenance dedicated to today at museum catalogue number
A diorite 1,24 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ninhursanga/Nintu Louvre AO 8
B diorite 0,93 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu Louvre AO 2
C diorite 1,38 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Inanna Louvre AO 5
D diorite 1,57 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu Louvre AO 1
E diorite 1,42 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ba'u Louvre AO 6
F diorite 0,86 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Gatumdu Louvre AO 3
G diorite 1,33 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu Louvre AO 7
H diorite 0,77 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ba'u Louvre AO 4
I diorite 0,45 sitting excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningishzida Louvre AO 3293 + AO 4108
J diorite -- -- excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh -- -- --
K diorite 1,24 standing excavations E. de Sarzec, Telloh Ningirsu -- --
L diorite -- -- -- -- (Kudurru) --
M alabaster or paragonite 0,41 standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna Detroit Institute of Arts --
N dolerite, calcite or steatite 0,61 standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna Louvre AO 22126
O steatite 0,63 standing clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Geshtinanna Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen NCG 840
P diorite 0,44 sitting clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Ningishzida New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 59.2
Q diorite 0,33 sitting clandestine excavations, Telloh 1924 Ningishzida body in Baghdad, head in Philadelphia body: 2909, head: CBS 16664
R diorite 0,185 sitting art trade Namhani Harvard Semitic Museum HSM 8825
S limestone -- standing -- -- Louvre --
T -- 1,24 -- -- -- Golenishev collection --
U dolerite 1,01 standing -- Ninhursanga/Nintu British Museum --
V diorite 0,78 standing -- -- British Museum 122910
W diorite -- -- -- -- -- --
X diorite -- -- -- Meslamta'ea -- --
Y limestone -- -- -- Ningirsu -- --
Z diorite -- -- -- -- -- --
AA limestone -- -- -- -- -- --

Further reading[edit]

  • Dietz Otto Edzard, "Gudea and His Dynasty" Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Early Periods - RIME 3/1 (Toronto University Press 1997).
  • F. Johansen, "Statues of Gudea, ancient and modern". Mesopotamia 6, 1978.
  • A. Parrot, Tello, vingt campagnes des fouilles (1877-1933). (Paris 1948).
  • H. Steible, "Versuch einer Chronologie der Statuen des Gudea von Lagas". Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 126 (1994), 81-104.

External links[edit]