Sunday, 6 December 2020

This mask currently held in the British museum depicts the grim face of Humbaba (Huwawa), legendary guardian of the Cedar Forest from Sumerian mythology. It is rendered in clay as if made of coils of a sheep’s intestines. The reason why is explained on the back:

If the coils of the colon resemble the head of Huwawa, [this is] an omen of Sargon who ruled the land. If …., the house of a man will expand. [Written by] the hand of Warad-Marduk, diviner, son of Kubburum, diviner

Warad-Marduk lived in the city of Sippar (southern Iraq), around 1800–1600 BC. As a professional diviner, his job was to predict the future. The most common method for doing that in ancient Iraq was to study the shape and colour of the internal organs of a sacrificed sheep…

Each feature of the organs was thought to have meaning, a message from the gods. Health, size, colour and position of each organ was examined and the observed features and their meanings were compiled in long scholarly reference works…

And believe or not, a guy named Robert K. G. Temple actually went and checked these ancient descriptions of the sheep intestines and published his findings in „An Anatomical Verification of the Reading of a Term in Extispicy„. Here is the pic of the intestines of a sick lamb from his book. Quite cool. Another spiral 🙂

So Warad-Marduk, the diviner from Sippar, saw Humbaba’s face in the intestines…Which makes me ask this question: If you could see Humbaba’s face in intestines, was Hunbaba’s face imagined as stripy? This is kind of an important question…And you’ll see why soon…

Huwawa features as a guardian of the ancient Cedar forest, in the ‚Epic of Gilgamesh‘, where he was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu after which the ancient cedar forest was cut by their men….This story was told widely across the Middle East. So it must have been important…

read moe:

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