Ninhursag

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In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (NIN.ḪURSAG 𒊩𒌆𒉺𒂅) was the earth and mother goddess, one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the 'true and great lady of heaven' and kings of Sumer were 'nourished by Ninhursag's milk'. She is typically depicted wearing a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Contents

Names

Nin-hursag means "lady of the mountain" (from Sumerian NIN "lady" and ḪAR.SAG "mountain, foothill"[dubious ])[1]). She had many names including Ninmah ("Great Queen");[1] Nintu ("Lady of Birth");[1] Mamma or Mami (mother);[1] Aruru[1] probably connected with Homeric arura (arable land,land generally). Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian)[1]

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.[citation needed]

Some take the view that Ki ("Earth") the primordial goddess of the earth and consort of An (sky), was identical to or an earlier form of Ninhursag. This may very well be the case, since some authorities argue that Ki was never regarded as a deity in her own right in the historical period. There is no evidence of a cult for the goddess and the name appears in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. As Ki, Ninhursag would be the mother of Enlil, whereas in other sources she is his sister.

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