Ninhursaga, Mesopotamian (Sumerian and Babylonian-Akkadian) [Iraq], was a Mother Goddess and one of seven great deities of Sumer. She was worshipped from about 3500 BC to 1750 BC. Her supposed symbol was omega, which was display from around 3500 BC but more prominently from the early second millennium. It appeared on some kudurru boundary stones–on the upper tier denoting her importance. She was principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven,” and the kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursaga’s milk.” Distinct from the goddess Inanna, she enjoys closer links with fecundity and birth, and is occasionally portrayed as a midwife, or with bosom bare and carry a baby in her left arm. She is typically depicted wearing horned headdress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders; not infrequently carrying a mace or baton surmounted by the omega motif or a derivation; sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a lease. The tutelary deity to several Sumerian rulers, in Creation of the Hoe, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe.
Most Mesopotamian gods lived in the mountains and the name Ninhursaga bears significance because, according to legend, it was changed from Ninmah by her son Ninurta to commemorate his creation of the mountains. Her name “lady of silence” is derived from the concept that the child in the womb is susceptible to both good and bad influences. Thus the wrong incarnation might jeopardize the child’s well-being. As “lady of the diadem,” according to the Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eannatemple. Ninhursaga possessed many more synonyms or titles. A.G.H.
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 184-185