Of all the rulers of ancient Mesopotamia, Gudea, ensi (governor) of Lagash, emerges the most clearly across the millennia due to the survival of many of his religious texts and statues. He ruled his city-state in southeast Iraq for twenty years, bringing peace and prosperity at a time when the Guti, tribesmen from the northeastern mountains, occupied the land. His inscriptions describe vast building programs of temples for his gods.
This statuette depicts the governor in worship before his gods wearing the Persian-lamb fur cap of the ensi and a shawl-like fringed robe with tassels. The serene, heavily lidded eyes and calm pose create a powerful portrait of this pious ruler.
Artist Neo-Sumerian, Mesopotamian
  • Gudea of Lagash
Date 2150 - 2125 BCE
Medium paragonite
Dimensions Overall: 15 1/2 × 5 1/4 × 2 1/2 inches (39.4 × 13.3 × 6.4 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund
Accession Number 82.64
Department Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View Ancient Middle East Gallery, Level 1 (see map)
Inscriptions Inscribed, in Cuneiform, cartouche right shoulder: [translated: Gudea, city ruler of Lagash, | the man who built the temple | of Ningiszida and the temple of | Gestinanna.]
Inscribed, in Cuneiform, carved on back: [translated: Gudea, city ruler of Lagash, | built to Gestinanna, | the queen a-izi-mu-a, | the beloved wife of Ningiszida, | his queen, | her temple in Girsu. | He created her statue. | "She granted the prayer," | he gave it a name for her | and brought it into her temple.]
Adolphe Stocklet (Brussels, Belgium).
(Safani Gallery);
1982-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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