September 24th, 2009 by sabrina

ninhursagNinhursag is the Sumerian Goddess of fertility. She also supplanted Ki as Goddess of the earth and mother of the Gods. Myths of her origin vary, but many state that she is the sister of Enlil, God of the air, which would make her the daughter of Ki and Anu, God of the sky. Whatever her origin, Ninhursag is most closely associated with Enki, God of the waters, as his consort. In a well-preserved myth entitled “Enki and Ninhursag,” Ninhursag bears Enki a daughter named Ninsar, who in turn is impregnated by Enki and bears Ninkurra. Ninkurra too has Enki’s child, a daughter named Uttu. Uttu, unwilling to bear Enki’s child, was instead advised by Ninhursag to bury his semen in the ground, where it grew into eight plants. These were the first plants on the earth, and Enki proceeded to eat them.

Ninhursag was furious with Enki for eating the plants, and she cursed him so that each plant caused a disease in a different part of his body. The other Gods pleaded with Ninhursag to take the curse off Enki, because without his waters, the earth and its people were dying. To cure him of the diseases, Ninhursag gave birth to eight deities—five Goddesses (Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe, Dazimira, and Ninti) and three Gods (Abu, Nintul, and Enshag). These eight were each able to heal one of Enki’s diseases, and leave him whole and healthy once again.

Ninhursag’s name means “lady of the mountains,” and she was also called Nintu (lady of birth), Ninmenna (lady of the tiara), and Ninmah (exalted lady), although it is likely that these were names of other Goddesses who were later assimilated with Ninhursag. Other names associated with her include Ninmug (lady of the vulva), Ninzinak (lady of the embryo), Ninsigsig (lady of silence), Ninbahar (lady of pottery), Nindim (lady fashioner), Nig-zi-gal-dim-dim-me (fashioner of all things in which there is breath of life), Nagarnam-luulu (carpenter of mankind), Nagar-sa-ga (carpenter of the insides), Tibira-kalam-ma (bronze caster of the nation), Sag-zu-kalam-ma (midwife of the nation), Sag-zu-digir-e-ne (midwife of the Gods), Mud-kes-da (blood-stancher), Ama-dug-bad (mother spreading her legs), Ama-dumu-dumu-ne (mother of all children), and Ama-digir-re-ne-ke (mother of the Gods).

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3 responses about “Ninhursag”

  1. Sean Williams said:

    I was under the impression Innana was the Akkadian and Sumerian goddess of fertility. She was the precursor to Levant goddesses, and eventually to Aphrodite and Venus.

  2. sabrina said:

    Inanna comes along a little later in the Sumerian pantheon and overshadows most of the original Goddesses, including Ninhursag. While Inanna is referred to as a Goddess of fertility, she is really more about the pleasure side of sex than the procreation side. See my entry on her here:

  3. emily said:

    wait; so is ninhursag the goddess of sexual pleasure or is she the goddess of sexual fertility?