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Title: Ninhursag  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Enki, Sumerian religion, Enlil, Abzu, Anu
Collection: Earth Goddesses, Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamian Goddesses, Mother Goddesses, Nature Goddesses
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (𒊩𒌆𒉺𒂅 Ninḫursag) or Ninkharsag[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] was a mother goddess of the mountains, and 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' (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were 'nourished by Ninhursag's milk'. Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears 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.


  • Names 1
  • Mythology 2
  • Worship 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Nin-hursag means "lady of the sacred mountain" (from Sumerian NIN "lady" and ḪAR.SAG "sacred mountain, foothill",[9] possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu. She had many names including Ninmah ("Great Queen");[9] Nintu ("Lady of Birth");[9] Mamma or Mami (mother);[9] Aruru,[9] Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian)[9]

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.

Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or 'womb goddess', tabsut ili 'midwife of the gods', 'mother of all children' and 'mother of the gods'. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.


In the legend of Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

In the text 'Creator of the Hoe', she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki's hoe.

In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.


Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb.[10] Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

See also


  1. ^ [King, L. W., Hall, H. R., History of Egypt Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria in the Light of Recent Discovery, p. 117, The Echo Library, 2008.]
  2. ^ Jastrow, Morris., The religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Morris Jastrow, Ginn & Co., 1898.
  3. ^ Douglas Van Buren, Elizabeth., Clay figurines of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 1, 19, 267, AMS Press, 1980.
  4. ^ Possehl, Gregory L., Ancient cities of the Indus, p. 126, Carolina Academic Press, 1979.
  5. ^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, p. 234, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Cambridge University Press for the Royal Asiatic Society, 1932
  6. ^ Clay, Albert T., The Origin of Biblical Traditions: Hebrew Legends in Babylonia and Israel, p. 100, The Book Tree, 1999.
  7. ^ Wallis Budge, E. A., Babylonian Life and History, p233, The Religious Tract Society, 1891, Reprint 2006.
  8. ^ Edwardes, Marian & Spence, Lewis., Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology, p.126, Kessinger Publishing, 2003.
  9. ^ a b c d e f  
  10. ^

Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of Gods, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2002

External links

  • Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: Mother Goddess (Ninmah, Nintud/r, Belet-ili)
  • Gateways of Babylon: Enki and Ninhursag
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