Diorite, the hard type of stone this statue is made of, was not a natural resource of Mesopotamia and had to be imported from afar. This circumstance is an indicationof the power wielded by Gudea, king of the city of Lagash. Apart from thirteen standing and seven sitting statues representing him, about tendetached heads are known. This is one of the best preserved examples. Gudea was a ruler in the southern city of Lagash, part of the powerful empire of Akkad,which disintegrated around 2200 B.C. as a result of the attacks by the Guti. However, Lagash enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity.
Gudea’s position was strong, witness the large number of statues representing him that were erected in various temples. Thus he confirmed that he could count on continuous intercession with the gods. In his inscriptions he mentions his extensive religious tasks and his continual care in seeing temples built and rebuilt.
This statuette is well-balanced and exquisitely modelled. It features exact anatomical details. The large eyes with their pronounced eyelids and eyebrows are very striking. The fur cap or turban is characteristicof the Gudea statues. The naturalistically rendered head exudes a sense ofcalm and dignity, emphasizing the devout character of the original statue representing Gudea praying.