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Ugallu, the “Big Weather-Beast,” inscribed U4/UD.GAL-˹la˺, Akkadian: ūmu rabû, meaning “big day,” was a lion-headed storm-demon and has the feet of a bird who featured on protective amulets and apotropaic yellow clay or tamarisk figurines of the first millennium BC but had its origins in the early second millennium. The iconography changed over time, with the human feet morphing into an eagle’s talons and dressing him in a short skirt. He was one of the class of ud-demons (day-demons), personifying moments of divine intervention in human life.
Ugallu was one of the eleven mythical monsters created by Tiāmat in her conflict with the younger gods, on the reverse of the first tablet of the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš. The tale describes how Marduk captured and bound the creatures, rehabilitating them with work reconstructing the world from the corpses of his vanquished adversaries. This transformed them into protective charms which would be used to adorn the doors of palaces, for example that of Ashurbanipal’s southwest palace at Nineveh, temples, such as the Esagil of the Marduk temple as described in the Agum-Kakrime Inscription, and private dwellings (the bedrooms of the vulnerable) to ward off evil and disease. Sometimes in pairs of ugallū, the beneficial protective demon finds special purpose in adorning the outer gates of buildings.
Ugallu first appears figuratively in the Old Babylonian period as a porter of the underworld, a servant of Nergal. In later times he is represented on amulets as frequently paired with the Sumerian demon Lulal, who was in many respects fairly similar in appearance. He is portrayed clasping a dagger, and described thus: “a lion’s head and lion’s ears, it holds a … in its right hand and carries a mace (gišTUKUL) in its left, it is girded with a dagger, its name is ugallu.”
- Ugallu, CAD U/W pp. 26–27.
- F. A. M. Wiggermann (2007). "Some Demons of Time and their Functions in Mesopotamian Iconography". In Brigitte Groneberg, Hermann Spieckermann. Die Welt Der Götterbilder. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 108–112.
- F. A. M. Wiggermann (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Styx Publications. p. 169.
- Brent A. Strawn (2005). What Is Stronger than a Lion?: Leonine Image and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 148.