Gudea of Lagash
2141-2122 B.C.; Mesopotamian, Neo-Sumerian period; Paragonite; 41 cm (16 1/8
in.); Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund; 82.64
Of all the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia, Gudea, ensi (governor)
of Lagash, emerges the most clearly across the millennia due to the survival
of many of his religious texts and statues. He ruled his city-state in
southeast Iraq for twenty years, bringing peace and prosperity at a time when
the Guti, tribesmen from the northeastern mountains, occupied the land. His
inscriptions describe vast building programs of temples for his gods.
This statuette depicts the governor in worship before his gods wearing the
persian-lamb fur cap of the ensi and a shawl-like fringed robe with
tassles. The serene, heavily lidded eyes and calm pose create a powerful
portrait of this pious ruler.
A Sumerian cuneiform
inscription on the back
describes the building of a temple to the goddess Geshtinanna, consort of
Gudea's personal god, and the making of this statue for her.