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Shala of Sumer - Strange Deities
1387    Dibyendu Banerjee    16/08/2020

Described in the Sumerian folklore as the consort of the storm god Adad or Hadad, Shala is probably of non-Mesopotamian origin, since the name Šhala, with a long vowel in the first syllable, has no distinct or clear Akkadian or other Semitic etymology. She first appeared in the Old Babylonian period, when Adad rose to prominence in Babylon and was depicted as the powerful wife of Adad, who safeguards the life of the people.


Even, during the late first millennium, she was honoured in the ancient city of Uruk in the Seleucid period and her statue participated in the New Year festival. In Assyria a sanctuary é-dur-kù at Karkara was ascribed to her. However, during the second millennium Šhala was merged with Šalaš, the wife of the fertility god Dagan.


Šhala had been often identified as a nude goddess who appears with the storm god on Akkadian cylinder seals, holding lightning bolts or surrounded by rain. Sometimes she was also depicted as carrying a double-headed mace-scimitar embellished with lion heads or being borne atop one or two lionesses and was believed to be a patron of power over crop fertility. As agriculture and compassion were co-related in Sumerian mythology, a bountiful harvest was considered as the compassion of the gods.

shala of sumer

In Mul-Apin, the standard Babylonian astronomical text, the constellation Furrow or Virgo was equated with Šhala, holding an ear of grain and even today, the brightest star in Virgo is known as Spica, which means ear of grain. Much later, the Shala Mons, a mountain on Venus, was named after her.

shala of sumer
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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