The first text is Inanna and the Huluppu tree. In this story Inanna and Gilgamesh are on good terms. In turn she makes him a magical drum and drumstick, from the same tree. This is the setup for the second part which is also considered tablet 12 of the epic. Enkidu volunteers to go to the Underworld to fetch it, but is trapped there.
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Johanna H. From a relief vessel found at Story Mari. Dated around B. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer A violent storm uprooted a huluppu poplar? Inanna rescued it and planted it in her "sacred grove" at Uruk Frayne She waited for it to get large enough to be made into a chair and a bed. Unfortunately, three creatures settled in the tree: in its roots "a snake which fears no spell"; in its trunk a lilitu, a female spirit; and in its branches the Anzu bird.
Unable to rid herself of these intruders, tearful Inanna requested her brother Utu, the sun god, to help. After the heavily armed hero "smote" the snake, the others fled. Gilgamesh cut down the tree, took the branches for himself, and gave the trunk to Inanna. Analysis Inanna rescued the huluppu tree at the Perhaps the huluppu time of beginnings, "when what was was the World Tree, needful had first come forth.
Perhaps the huluppu was the World Tree, which connects heaven, earth, and underworld Campbell In other mythologies, the World Tree usually has a serpent in its roots and often a bird in its branches Campbell Many ancient precincts had sacred groves complete with sacred trees. In male-dominated Mesopotamia, a king usually held the title "Gardener" Widegren 9, 11, Indeed, gardening and plowing could be metaphors for taking the male part in sexual intercourse.
For example, in one Sumerian love poem Inanna sings of her vulva, her "uncultivated land," and asks, "Who will plow it? Metaphorically, then, the fertile grove is the goddess, particularly her womb, her vulva. In the huluppu poem, however, the garden, the womb, was "fruitful" in and of itself. Inanna did no more than tamp the tree into place with her foot and water it with her foot!
Clearly, her garden did not yet have a gardener, a plowman to plow it, to control its fertility. Not surprisingly, in a world where a gardener was beginning to be necessary for ordered and controlled cultivation, untended plants had to be incapable of normal progress. So the tree acquired what, in a male-dominated world garden, womb , would have been considered parasites. Snakes are also boundary creatures, able to move in several elements. They often live at wells and springs, entrances to the netherworld.
Interestingly, Inanna tended the tree with her foot, her roots. When it flapped its wings, it caused whirlwinds and other kinds of storms. Detail of a relief plaque from Girsu, , ; Mesopotamia. Around BCE. Beaulieu, after Kramer and Wolkstein It too was able to move across thresholds. From Mesopotamian writings going back into the third millennium BCE comes evidence of spirits like the one in the tree trunk Hutter Lilu demons manipulated "stormy winds," and the lilitu could fly like a bird.
They also had negative sexual characteristics, especially the females. Unmarried, they roamed about looking for men to ensnare, and they got into buildings through windows.
Ishtar "stands at the window looking for a man in order to seduce him, love him and kill him" Hutter The prostitute was useful, if marginalized, and the demon was feared and rejected.
He thought that the nude figure, standing on lions and flanked by owls, was a night goddess and lady of wild animals. However, she wears the multi-horned crown and carries the ring-and-rod symbol of power Henshaw ; Williams-Forte ; Jacobsen She is most unlikely to be merely a lilitu.
Rather she is the goddess Inanna with the wings and the death-dealing talons of an owl? Beaulieu, after Neumann Plate Above the line are deities and human worshipers, while below it are "demonic creatures. Like the huluppu tree, she stands with feet, roots, in the underworld and head, branches, in the heavens, her body, the trunk, joining them. She herself could be interpreted as the "cosmic tree of life" and death Campbell The institution of kingship had appropriated it and, with the furniture, Inanna herself.
What is more, the poem presents her as willingly co-operating in her own demotion. Both she and the furniture would henceforth serve a male monarchy in a male- dominated society. In this way, society was able to circumscribe her and direct her undoubted power into channels that would be useful to the male-dominated city.
Sacred Tree, Horned Goddess, and Priest ess. Cylinder seal impression. Dated about B. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer 3. The subject, the sacred destroying of the huluppu tree meant World Tree, had, over that human beings could no longer count the centuries, been on Inanna and the World Tree to reshaped into limited maintain the cycle of life and death.
The old cyclical goddess herself was co- understanding of death as merely one opted into seeing this stage in the eternal round of birth, death, limited role as powerful. It shows well how myth can be remade to serve ideology! A powerful goddess subject, the sacred World Tree, had, over the centuries, been reshaped into limited goddess objects, a bed and a throne, while the goddess herself was co-opted into seeing this limited role as powerful. Independent Inanna had become feminine, a woman reliant on males to get her out of trouble.
The extant poem probably echoes an earlier story, one in which Inanna and the World Tree had very different roles. We can only imagine what they were. Notes 1. This column represents a shortening, rewriting, and updating of my article on the same topic which appeared in Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Pages For example, the snake who stole the plant of youth from Gilgamesh lived in or near a spring Foster The Sumerians called her ki-sikil-lil-la, in Semitic Akkadian, w ardat-lilla or ardat-lili; both phrases mean "Young Woman Spirit" Douglas Frayne, personal communication, 10 December A drawing of this seal was published in the Beltane issue, It is ironic that Gilgamesh was the hewer-down of the huluppu tree, for, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, he is so appalled by death and the netherworld that he undertakes a quest for immortality Foster Bibliography Ausubel, Nathan, ed.
A Treasury of Jewish Folklore. New York: Crown. Campbell, Joseph The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York: Viking. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. NY: Meridian.. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Chicago: University of Chicago. Foster, Benjamin R. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: Norton. Frymer-Kensky, Tikva New York: Free Press.
Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. London: Cassell. Heidel, Alexander, translator The Babylonian Genesis: Second Edition.
Chicago: Phoenix Books, University of Chicago. Henshaw, Richard A. Allison Park, Penn. Hutter, M. Leiden: Brill. Jacobsen, Thorkild Kovacs, Maureen Gallery, translator Stanford: Stanford University.
Kramer, Samuel Noah Neumann, Erich Patai, Raphael
The Huluppa Tree
Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree -- It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates, It was watered by the Euphrates -- The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots, Tore away its crown, The Euphrates carried it off on its waters. The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage, In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest, In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young, In its midst the maid Lilith built her house -- The always laughing, always rejoicing maid, I, the maid Inanna, how I weep! The tree -- he plucked at its roots, tore at its crown, The sons of the city who accompanied him cut off its branches, He gives it to holy Inanna for her throne, Gives it to her for her bed, She fashions its roots into a pukku for him, Fashions its crown into a mikku for him. The summoning pukku -- in street and lane he made the pukku resound, The loud drumming -- in street and lane he made the drumming resound, The young men of the city, summoned by the pukku -- Bitterness and woe -- he is the affliction of their widows, "O my mate, O my spouse," they lament, Who had a mother -- she brings bread to her son, Who had a sister -- she brings water to her brother. After the evening star had disappeared, And he had marked the places where his pukku had been, He carried the pukku before him, brought it to his house, At dawn in the places he had marked -- bitterness and woe! Because of the cry of the young maidens, His pukku and mikku fell into the "great dwelling," He put in his hand, could not reach them, Put in his foot, could not reach them, He sat down at the great gate ganzir, the "eye" of the nether world, Gilgamesh wept, his face turns pale.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree – Preamble to The Epic of Gilgamesh
Leave a Reply This story is a preamble or prologue to the great Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest examples of literature ever found: it was written over five thousand years ago. This Epic probably existed in much the same form told orally recorded many centuries earlier, but were written on clay tablets in the first centuries of the second millennium B. These stories reflect the period that separated Abraham from Noah. But before we delve into the Gilgamesh Epic I want to write about the story of the goddess Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, as this story is important and helpful in the understanding of the background history of Gilgamesh, of the beliefs and culture of the peoples in this distant time past. The story of Inanna and the Huluppa Tree is really a form of creation myth which predates the Epic of Gilgamesh but sets the scene for it.
Gilgamesh Epic, Tablet 12
Johanna H. From a relief vessel found at Story Mari. Dated around B. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer A violent storm uprooted a huluppu poplar? Inanna rescued it and planted it in her "sacred grove" at Uruk Frayne She waited for it to get large enough to be made into a chair and a bed.
Inanna, slso known as Ishtar in Akkadian mythology, is a goddess associated with the morning and evening star, Venus. She is viewed as both an independent, powerful and sensual figure, but also as a young girl under patriarchal control. The goddess is also noted for her dual-nature — her feminine as well as masculine traits. In Uruk, she was worshiped as their patron deity, especially at the main center, the Eanna temple meaning the House of Heaven.