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Babylonian Goddess Will Interest You: Find Out All about the Queen of the Night Relief

23.07.2021
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Find Out All about the Queen of the Night Relief

This is one of the most famous images of the Mesopotamian goddess, although it is still unknown which one. For this reason, it is called “Burney relief” after one of the owners. The bas-relief was originally acquired by a Syrian antiquarian in southern Iraq in 1924 and examined at the British Museum in London in the 1930s. The museum did not buy the bas-relief, and it passed to different owners until it was acquired by the Japanese collector Goro Sakkamoto for one and a half million pounds. Then the British realized this, and since 2003, the bas-relief has become an exhibit of the British Museum called “Queen for the Night”. It is still debated what kind of goddess is depicted on it – Lilith, Inanna, Ishtar, or Ereshkigal (sister of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of the underworld), but the most real candidates are Inanna and Ishtar.

The clay relief panel by Barney the queen of heaven Babylonian goddess depicts a nude female figure with bird wings and clawed legs, wearing a headdress of 4 pairs of horns, typical of the main Sumerian gods. The horn is crowned with the disc. On the wrists, there is a complex necklace and bracelets of three rings, in the hands of a ring with a crossbar. Stands on a pair of lions, on the sides of an owl. Mountainous terrain is indicated. The face is framed by two braids, possibly a ceremonial wig. The wide necklace consists of squares structured with horizontal and vertical lines, possibly representing beads. The necklace looks like the necklace of the god found in You’re (it has three lines leading to a square).

The symbol in the hands of the Babylonian godess is interpreted in many ways, such as a spiral rope made of rope that can be used for measurements, or as a nose ring for pets with a rope. But its similarity with the Egyptian symbol Shen, meaning eternal protection, is noticeable. In Mesopotamian images, this symbol can often be seen in the hands of a deity, where it is passed on to the king during worship, sacrifice, etc.

Babylonian Statues

Babylonian Statues

The bas-relief belongs to the early period of Isin-Lars or, a little later, to the beginning of the ancient Babylonian period (1800-1750 BC). Perhaps it comes from Ur, where a picture of a similar male deity was found, a similar necklace is depicted on a fragment found at Isin, and similar lions were found at Nippur. The bas-relief could serve as an object of worship and be in a temple – this is evidenced by the frontality of the image, and the sculpturality suggests that this is not just a pictorial reference to a deity, but a symbol of his presence. The Mesopotamian temple was rectangular with niches on both sides; the bas-relief could be installed in the wall. Given that the bas-relief most likely depicts Inanna / Ishtar, the goddess of sensual love and war, Thorkild Jacobsen’s suggestion that the goddess was in a temple brothel does not seem incredible, unless the word brothel is entirely accurate.

During the New Year holidays in Sumer, a special ritual was performed, when the king and goddess Inanna, represented by the main priestess, retired to a specially prepared room at the top of the ziggurat, the king entered into an alliance with the goddess and thus communicated with divinity and eternal life. This was very important for the whole people. The rest of the subjects could enter the temple in one unit with the goddess herself, where her role was played by priestesses. There was even a rule that every girl had to one day serve in the temple as a sacrifice.

This reminds us of Freya and Valkyries or Apsaras, who are calmer but only at first glance. Surely in the temples of Inanna and Ishtar music sounded and priestesses danced, as in India, for example, or in Egypt. Durga and Parvatti can be considered counterparts to Inanna, who in her vivid forms danced on the battlefield. The mountainous landscape speaks in favor of Inanna in the bas-relief; of the Sumerian gods, only Inanna was depicted on lions.

The original color of the bas-relief was recreated from the remains of the paint. Researchers at the British Museum suggest that the horns of the headdress and part of the necklace were originally painted yellow, as on a very similar clay figurine from Ur. It is possible that bracelets and ring bar symbols may also be painted yellow. However, no traces of yellow pigment remained on the relief. The general background was most likely black. Precious stones were inserted into the eyes.

  • Clay Babylonian sculpture of a woman from a temple, Old Babylonian period (2000-1700) with traces of red paint, British Museum. The hairstyle or wig, as well as the necklace and 3-piece bracelets, are very similar to the goddess details in Bernie’s bas-relief.
  • Ishtar, queen of heaven, holds in her hands her symbol, a terracotta relief from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. from Eshnunn, Louvre. The necklace, hairstyle, and headpiece are the same as Bernie’s relief. The schematic representation of the feet of the goddess corresponds to the feet of the birds walking above her. Louvre. Such an underwater version of Inanna. Several other finds date back to the same period, where the queen of the night relief is depicted naked, with wings and bird’s legs, but in most cases, she is dressed. Bernie’s bas-relief has rare preservation, given its age (about 4 thousand years) and material (clay). This is a one-of-a-kind bas-relief, for this reason, it has long been considered a fake.
  • Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar Lilith – queen of the night, queen of heaven, goddess of fertility, love, and war. The personification of the planet Venus, the symbol is an 8-pointed star. The Ishtar cult is spread throughout the Middle East and Egypt, in the Phoenician colonies in North Africa and the Western Mediterranean. The name is associated with similar female deities – Astarte, Ashtoret, and others.

Mesopotamian Queens

Further – images of the ring symbol with a crossbar. Or a stylized image of a rope noose. This symbol in Egypt was called the Shen ring and signified the eternal protection of the pharaoh and everything that he ruled. A similar symbol, but with a circle stretched into an oval, on which the name of the pharaoh was written, was called a cartouche and had a similar meaning. That is, the Shen ring was a symbolic protective perimeter around the pharaoh and his dominions. This concept was incorporated into the design of the tomb, palace, and temple and was a kind of invisible protective wall around the buildings of the pharaoh. Perhaps the symbol is based on an image of a measuring tool used by builders and architects.

There is also a frog symbol with a similar sign. The frog was a symbol of Hecate, the goddess of fertility associated with the annual floods of the Nile, identified with Hathor. At the same time, she was the patroness of the last phase of childbirth and the priestesses of her temples were midwives. The amulet in the shape of a frog in a lotus was worn by pregnant women. The name Hecate is associated with the name of Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft. The god Heh was depicted in the form of a frog or a man with a frog (his female form is with a snake). Heh represented the concept of infinity or eternity, and the hieroglyph of this god meant “a million”, which for the Egyptians was equal to infinity. He is holding in his hands a pair of palm fronds that represent the year. Both branches are depicted on the shen ring.

  • Cancho Roano is an archaeological site, probably a temple, located 3 miles from Zalamea de la Seren in the province of Badajoz, Spain.

Akkadian kings turned to Ishtar in her incarnation of the goddess of war, so Ishtar received the epithet “queen of kings”, as well as Anunnite, or “Ishtar the warrior.” It is believed that Ishtar’s sister sits on the divine throne with her husband, the supreme god of heaven Anu, and he consults with his wife when he makes decisions because Ishtar is wise and discerning. The gods bow down before a couple of rulers, and people fear the face of Ishtar.

It is believed that the powerful goddess holds the destiny of existence in her hands, but at the same time the image of Ishtar captivates and arouses attraction. The goddess’s eyes shimmer with the colors of the rainbow, and her lips exude honey. Ishtar gives people good luck and vitality. The goddess is supportive of obedient admirers, mutually in love, and people with good intentions.
So you learned who is the queen of the night and what myths are walking around this statue, thanks to the information that we have prepared for you.

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