Gudea of Lagash
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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.