Babylonian terracota plaque of the fertility goddess “Innana”, 1800 B.C.

This Babylonian plaque represents the goddess of fertility and love Inanna, a deity of Sumerian origin. The figure has been conceived from a mould, very roughly shaped and almost undefined, except for the most relevant parts that allow her to be identified, such as the breasts, wings and arms under the chest. It is a votive relief made to be placed in a temple in honour of the goddess it represents. In Sumerian mythology, Inanna is defined as the archetype of the mother goddess par excellence. She is the goddess of love, of war and protector of the city of Uruk, although later, by the hand of the Akkadians, a syncretism will take place happening to be conceived like the goddess Ishtar, associating itself of equal form with the Phoenician Astarte, the Greek Aphrodite or Roman Venus. We must first consider the complexity involved in the study of the Mesopotamian religion, due among other things to the numerous syncretisms that were produced by the imposition of new gods according to the belief imposed by the reigning dynasty; secondly, although normally one tends to think that their beliefs were similar to those of the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians thought that there was an afterlife but seen from a negative point of view. That is, even if they had or retained that hope, they did not enjoy the existence of a promise of a posthumous life. To them all men were mortal and the end of life was accepted with resignation. We know this from the Song of Gilgamesh, whose central story is about the young king of Uruk trying to break free by revealing himself against his mortal condition. Bearing this in mind, it is essential to look at the different rituals carried out by the Mesopotamians because, although for them there was no such certainty of reaching the afterlife, to a certain extent there was a possibility, in addition to the fact that their present and the future of their events depended on their day-to-day behaviour in the face of the power and authority of the divinities. In this way, they carried out numerous rituals to satisfy the divinity, offering them depositions of votive images, destined to be placed in the temple. There are two types of representation, on the one hand, those that allude to the divinity, and on the other, distinguished by a larger size, those that directly represent the image of the deity, as in this case. Nevertheless, from its iconography we see that, in appearance, being a beautiful and winged figure, it could be Lilit, whose Mesopotamian origin is found in the Lilitu and Ardat Lili family, defined as two female demons related in turn to the evil spirit Lilu. The word lil means "wind", "air" or "spirit". Later it will be accepted by the Jewish exiles in Babylon, taking their belief to their land of origin, modifying its nominative to the phonetics of the Hebrew (Lilith) to put it in relation to the paronymous word laila, translated as "night".


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