Ninazu

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Ninazu in Sumerian mythology was a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana.[1] His wife is often times depicted as the goddess Ninigirida and their son was Ningiszida.[2]

Ninazu was the patron deity of the city of Eshnunna and Enegi until the God Tispak superseded him in popularity and became the new patron deity of Eshnunna.[3]


Genealogy and Mythology[edit]

Gugalana and Ereshkigal were considered Ninazu’s father and mother in Enegi; however, it is believed by scholars that Nergal was actually his father due to the Sumerian Story of “Ereshkigal and Nergal” where he rapes and impregnates her; however, this may be in reference to one of her many other children.[1] It was primarily in Enshnunna that his parentage was referenced as Enlil and Ninlil.There are many interpretations on his parentage; however, it seems that Gulgana and Ereshkigal are the most widely accepted by scholars.

Ninazu was the patron deity of Eshnunna and Enegi, in Eshnunna he was depicted as warlike and it was his dual genealogy that identified his ties to the underworld. This dual genealogy shows he is a dying and returning god, which is what links him to vegetation and agriculture. In the story How Grain Came to Sumer, he and his brother are depicted bringing barley and flax to the people and in the story Enlil and Ninlil he is referred to as ‘the lord who stretches the measuring line over the fields’.[3]

In Enegi he is considered the steward of the underworld and is strongly correlated to imagery of a snake. Although in some traditions he is depicted as having some involvement with healing, due to his name being interpreted as ‘Lord Healer’, this is not his primary attribute. It is only in second and third millennium incantations that he is called upon for healing and that is most often for snake bites, due to title of “King of the snakes”.[3]

Worship[edit]

Due to his association as the steward of the underworld in Enegi, Ninazu is of central focus in a festival that is held to mourn Chthonic Gods. During this festival that occurs on the sixth month, the people of Enegi make offerings to kings and priestesses who have passes. The Sumerian lamentation on which this festival is based upon (In the Desert in the Early Grass) he is deemed “King of the snakes”. He also receives offerings in Lagash, Umma and Nippur.[3] One may find temples dedicated to him in both Enegi and Enshnunna, they were typically ‘storehouses’ and ‘Pure Houses’. Ninazu’s following fell upon the rise in popularity of the gods Tispak and Nergal.

Sources[edit]

  • Walls, N. H. (2001). Desire, discord and death: Approaches to ancient Near Eastern myth. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.
  • Kathryn Stevens, 'Ninazu (god)', Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2013
  • Leick, G. (1998). A dictionary of ancient Near Eastern mythology. London: Routledge.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Walls, N. H. (2001). Desire, discord and death: Approaches to ancient Near Eastern myth. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.
  2. ^ Leick, G. (1998). A dictionary of ancient Near Eastern mythology. London: Routledge.
  3. ^ a b c d Kathryn Stevens, 'Ninazu (god)', Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2013

External links[edit]