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Sumerian Green Stone Cow - Ninsun or Geme Sin

Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Nippur, Sumerian, ca. 2700 to 2000 BCE. Finely carved from a mottled green stone with beige and black inclusions, a cow lying in a prone position, perhaps symbolizing Ninsumun or Ninsun - whose name means "lady of the wild cows" - and according to Sumerian mythology is a goddess believed for being the mother of the celebrated hero Gilgamesh, as well as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. It is also possible that the sculpture represents the pregnant cow known as Geme-Sin belonging to Nanna/Suen/Sin - The Mesopotamian moon god. The ancient text entitled "A Cow of Sin" tells of how Sin eased Geme-Sin's birthing pains, and the incantation ends this way, "may this woman give birth as easily as Geme-Sin." Furthermore, the moon god, whose primary symbol was actually a bull, was also associated with fertility, since the timing of its transformations was related to menstrual cycles, and by extension the cow. Size: 2.625" L x 1.2" W (6.7 cm x 3 cm).

Other forms of Sumerian visual culture representing a cow serve to demonstrate how this ancient culture honored this animal and/or deities associated with it. For example, see this Sumerian stone cow amulet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (62.70.65) - https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/325470.

Condition: Minor abrasions and nicks to feet, body, and head, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits throughout.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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