The Sumerian god Ningizzida accompanied by two gryphons. It is the oldest known image of snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

Ningishzida (sum: dnin-ǧiš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld. He is the patron of medicine, and may also be considered a god of nature and fertility. His name in Sumerian is translated as "lord of the good tree"[1] by Thorkild Jacobsen and "lord who makes the trees grow right" by James Well.[2] In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa's myth as one of the two guardians of Anu's celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.

Lineage and gender

Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzidda's journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal.[3] His wife is Azimua[4] and his sister is Amashilama. He was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh. His symbolic animal is the bashmu dragon, a type of snake with horns. He is also associated with the Hydra constellation.

It is sometimes controversial whether the Ningishzida was male or female.[dubious ] NIN is usually a prefix for goddesses, but there are exceptions, as in Ninurta and Ninazu. All myths anyway depict Ningishzidda as a male deity and the Stelae of Gudea depicts him as male with beard.

Serpent symbolism

Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining (some say in copulation[who?]) around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a millennium.[5]

In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for king Gudea of Lagash (dated variously 22002025 BCE), dedicated by its inscription: "To the god Ningiszida, his god Gudea, Ensi (governor) of Lagash, for the prolongation of his life, has dedicated this".

The Adapa myth mentions Ningizzida and Tammuz (or Dumuzi) and refers to the serpent god as male.

In popular culture

  • The Simon Necronomicon has a version of the myth of the descent of Ishtar, where Ningishzida (here spelled "Ninnghizhidda") appears.
  • The song Defiling the Gates of Ishtar by the death metal band Nile references the myth of the descent of Ishtar and includes quotes from the Simon Necronomicon, including an invocation of "Ninnghizhidda".
  • In the song Lord of All Fever & Plague by death metal band Morbid Angel is a reference to Ningishzida.
  • A German black metal band named Ninnghizhidda existed between 1997 and 2003.
  • In the movie "The Frighteners", Ninnghizhidda carries the soul of Jake Busey's character down to Hell.
  • Zecharia Sitchin translates the name Ningishzidda as "Lord of the manufact of life"" according to the meaning of the particle GISH that can be translated as 'Tree' or 'Implement/manufact' and the rendering of the particle ZI meaning '(breath of) Life' instead of ZID meaning 'faithful/right'. Sitchin also argues that iconography and myths show parallel between Ningishzidda, the egiptian god Thot and the mexican god Quetzalcoatl.


  1. Q&A#20 (Ningishzida)
  2. Gods, Demons & Immortals whose Names Start with 'N'
  3. Ningishzidda's journey to the netherworld on ETCSL
  4. Sumerian Mythology: Chapter II. Myths of Origins
  5. Turner, Frederick. Natural Religion. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0765803321. 
  • Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of Gods, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2002

See also

External links

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Ningishzida. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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