Trivium Art HistoryMesopotamia

Perforated plaque of Dudu

Perforated plaque of Dudu, 2450 BCE — Mesopotamia,
25 cm23 cm

The bas-relief is perforated in the middle and divided into four unequal sections. A figure occupying the height of two registers faces right, leaning on what appears to be a long staff. He is dressed in the kaunakes, a skirt of sheepskin or other material tufted in imitation of it. His name is inscribed alongside: Dudu, rendered by the pictograph for the foot, "du," repeated. Dudu was high priest of the god Ningirsu at the time of Entemena, prince of Lagash (c.2450 BC). Incised to his left is the lion-headed eagle, symbol of the god Ningirsu and emblem of Lagash, as found in other perforated plaques from Telloh, as well as on other objects such as the mace head of Mesilim, king of Kish, and the silver vase of Entemena, king of Lagash. On this plaque, however, the two lions, usually impassive, are reaching up to bite the wings of the lion-headed eagle. Lower down is a calf, lying in the same position as the heifers on Entemena's vase. The lower register is decorated with a plait-like motif, according to some scholars a symbol of running water.
The image may be read as a series of rebuses or ideograms. A priest dedicates an object to his god, represented by his symbol, and flanked perhaps by representations of sacrificial offerings: an animal for slaughter and a libation of running water. The dedicatory inscription, confined to the area left free by the image in the upper part, runs over the body of the calf: "For Ningirsu of the Eninnu, Dudu, priest of Ningirsu ... brought [this material] and fashioned it as a mace stand."

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