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Image copyright Sarduriur Freydis Sverresdatter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Image copyright Sarduriur Freydis Sverresdatter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Following Ninurta‘s piece, I created an image for was Enki / Ea. Years ago, I felt compelled to make an image for Ea, but pushed the idea away at that time for a number of personal reasons. Unlike Nergal, I hadn’t promised Ea anything, but the impulse to supply Ea with an image stuck with me all the same. I returned to that very idea about a week ago with renewed vigor and a much better idea as to how to execute such a project.

The God’s name is written above His crown as “E-a” in Akkadian, preceded by the DINGIR Akkadian Sumerogram. I’ve given Him a plainer horned crown than I’ve given the other Gods I rendered in anthropomorphic form — Dumuzi‘s being the exception thus far.

This is the most naked I’ve yet depicted any Mesopotamian deity. As the God of the Sweetwater (that is, the Apsû: the vast subterranean source of all the Earth’s freshwater in Mesopotamian cosmic geography) He is a distinctly primordial Creator deity, and His (partially obscured) nudity is intended to convey this attribute. His nakedness is equally intended to display His masculine sexual nature — a masculine sexual nature which is well-detailed in the poem Enki and Ninḫursaĝa.

My husband, Rig / “Ram,” was the model for this rendition of Ea. Or rather, a bodybuilding progress photograph my husband took of himself two years ago that I kept among my personal files. I’ve long envisioned Ea as appearing similar to my husband, for whatever reason; my ideas of Gods tend not to resemble anyone I know. I decided to show the resemblance here, hence the beardlessness and the obvious youthful look, despite Ea generally being considered part of the older “generations” of Gods. Like the Dumuzi piece I completed two years ago, this is as much tribute to my much-beloved husband as it is religious artwork.

I decided to show Ea with His Divine animal, the surhumašu, better known as the carp-goat or capricorn. The rare Bezoar ibex, which is endemic to the mountainous wilderness throughout the Near East, was the basis for this version of the surhumašu. I had considered adding seven fishes to this composition, to represent Ea’s aides, the Apkallû, Who are depicted either as eagle-headed men or as men dressed in the skins of fishes (the latter forms routinely mislabeled as Dagan / Dagon). The Apkallû were thought by Mesopotamian peoples to have been created by Ea, with the purpose of instructing mankind in the arts and sciences of civilization. As such, I felt it important to consider adding to the composition. However, I couldn’t decide upon a native Iraqi freshwater fish species to use, and upon loosely sketching as many fishes as I could within and behind the waves, I found that they wouldn’t fit and would make the composition too “busy.”

In lieu of crowding the background with Apkallû-in-the-form-of-fishes, I opted to create a much more plain, warm background to complement the cooler colors used for most of the piece. Instead of an aureola (as I did for the Nergal, Adad, and Ninurta pieces), I placed the sun around Ea’s name. The composition exudes a more “beachy” feel than I had intended as a result, but I don’t think it looks the worse for it. Indeed, I think I made it unintentionally Egyptian: a youthful (Creator) God rising from the waters with the sun. In any case, it’s not entirely out of line with His character.

I framed Ea’s image immediately upon completion, and placed it in the shrine beside Nergal’s. I still have more pieces to frame and add to this shrine space, but that likely won’t happen until after I’m permanently settled in Washington State. In any case, my Mesopotamian shrine space looks considerably less neglected now, and hopefully Nergal and His retinue are the more pleased for it.

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WORKS CITED

Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. “Enki and Ninḫursaĝa,” translation 1.1.1. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. 2006. Date of access: 19 Jan., 2016. [http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.1.1.1#]

Horry, Ruth. ‘Enki/Ea (god)’, Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, ORACC and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2013 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/enki/]

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