Copyright © 2005 Joséphine Maisonet. All Rights reserved


Limited Edition
A 17" x 22" poster sized print of Inanna
Signed, framed and matted to 22" x 28".
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Play to hear narration of Inanna

Inanna, the Sumerian goddess that later became known as Ishtar. She was the goddess of sexual love, procreation, and war, also worshipped as the queen of heaven and earth.

Dating back to 3800B.C., Inanna was seen as the third child of the goddess Ningal and moon god An. Later it was said her parents were the sky god An and the moon goddess, Nanna. Inanna has been said to be the consort and occasionally the wife of An, thus making her officially the "Queen of Heaven", and the goddess of the morning and evening star, Venus, signaling the beginning and end of the day.

As the "Lady of Myriad Offices" she acted as a mediator of differences. As "Lady of the Palace" meant she ruled as queen. As "Mother of All" she was the goddess of fertility, birth and nature. As the goddess of war and strife, she held the title Nin-kur-ra-ugi-ga," the queen who eyes the highland" meaning that other lands feared her. Bound into the skill of war is her power over the rains and storms. Inanna is seen as a cruel and violent paradox, a "combination of male aggressiveness with the force of a superabundance of female sexuality". She intentionally breaks the boundaries between the sexes as well as between the classes. She also carries the rank of "harlot", hence known as the goddess of prostitutes." The goddess's roles as prostitute and warrior place her outside the female domestic domain and in world of the public arena of men who quest for power and fame.

The most important myth in which she is the central figure is that of her descent to the underworld. The goddess's reason to descent to the nether world was probably to extend her power there. Before setting out she instructs her vizier Ninshubur that he should go in turn to three gods for their help in the event of her not reappearing. In the underworld, she has to pass through seven gates, at each of which she must remove one item of clothing and jewelry, so that finally she is naked, denuded of all the powers her garments symbolized. She confronts the goddess Ereshkigal, ruler of the underworld and her own sister, and tries to seize her throne, but she is condemned to death and her corpse hung on a nail in a wall. Suspecting some disaster, Ninshubur goes to the god Enki (creator god), who, from the dirt of his fingernails, creates two sexless beings and gives them the Plant and Water of Life. They penetrate to Inanna and revive her, but she is allowed to leave only on condition that she will provide a substitute for herself. She leaves the underworld, accompanied by fierce demons, and nominates her husband Dumuzi as her substitute. The poem ends with a speech ordaining that Dumuzi will spend half a year in the underworld and his sister Geshtinanna, "lady of the Grape Vine", the other half.

Dumuzi -shepherd god: was originally a mortal ruler whose marriage to Inanna ensured the fertility of the land and the fecundity of the womb. She chose her husband as her substitute because she was offended by her husband's unfeeling behavior toward her, hence the barren, sterile months of the hot summer. At the autumnal equinox, which marked the beginning of the sumerian new year, Dumuzi returned to the earth. His reunion with his wife caused all animal and plant life to be revitalized and made fertile once again.

Poetry: Inanna by © S. David

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