This small statuette of a bearded man is identified by the cuneiform inscription on the back: 'Dedicated to the god Ningizzida, his god, by Ur-ningirsu, priest-prince of Lagash, son of Gudea, priest-prince of Lagash.' The text indicates that it was the ruler who dedicated this portrait of himself to the temple - in continual worship of Ningizzida, a Sumerian divinity with chthonic attributes. (He is the god of the underworld and also guardian of the gate of heaven.) The upper body is all that survives of the statuette, and the nose and the mouth amid the long beard look as if they have been deliberately damaged. Ur-ningirsu wears a smooth garment with decorated braid trimming which leaves the right shoulder bare. He has his hands clasped in prayer. The statuette has the formal qualities of Neo-Sumerian sculpture (see pp. 20-21). Characteristic here are the ample hair and its stereotypical representation in individual locks, the strong eyebrows with their hatched rendering, and the schematic folds of the robe; equally characteristic are the lively modelling of the face and the gentle rounding of the limbs and torso. The play of light on the carefully polished surface of the hard stone emphasizes the statuette's plastic qualities.


  • Title: Statuette of Ur-ningirsu
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: c. 2120 BCE
  • Location: Lagash, Iraq
  • Physical Dimensions: w12.5 x h18 cm
  • Type: Statuette
  • Medium: Diorite
  • Inv. no.: VA 8790
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-815718
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Foto © bpk - Foto Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Olaf M. Teßmer || Text: © Scala Publishers / Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Ralf-B. Wartke
  • Collection: Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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