A Visual Analysis of Votive Of Gudea

A Visual Analysis of Votive Of Gudea

AVisual Analysis of Votive Of Gudea

Thevotive statue of Gudea portrays a man (the leader of Lagash by thename Gudea). The man is standing tall and in his powerful arms holdsa vessel from which wants flows. The face takes a very straightposition with the eyes gazing directly at the viewer. The wholesculpture is straight and firm and portrays much stability. The waterflows in lines, and there are writings on the frontal view thatappear vertically seizing and holding the thoughtfulness of thereader (Bahrani 110). The statue was carved from Diorite, a durablestone hence difficult to carve. Therefore, due to the material used,the figure appears firm and compact with no single sign of weakness.

Thestatue of Gudea gives a viewer a real image of strength and might.The statue is carved from a durable stone to emphasize the power ofthe picture. Gudea was a ruler in Southern Mesopotamia and thehistorical context, rulers were supposed to be strong and mighty toprotect their territories. Therefore, the statue was meant to portraya sense of strength and stability to portray clearly the strength andmighty associated with rulers in the ancient Mesopotamia(Mark par3). The eyes of this particular statue are cast to thegoddess a sign of loyalty and adoration to their gods. According toJacobsen, religion was an important aspect of the traditions andculture of the Mesopotamian people (par1). Their rulers acted asintermediaries between the people and their goddess. The kings prayedthe God for provision and success on behalf of the people. Therefore,this statue was of great importance to the historical audience andcontext because it brings out the importance of devotion and respectfor the gods.

Sincethe figure represents a ruler and an intermediary between the peopleand the gods, then the water flowing from the vessel in his hands isof great value. The people looked upon their gods for provision andblessings. Therefore, the water represents gods` provisions. In thehistorical context, the Gudea statue represented a provider, whorelied on gods to provide for his people (Snell 292). In fact, therepresentation of a provider is highlighted in a votive manner- theGudea holds a vessel in his strong hands.

Fromthe perception that the statue is a worship item, then the vessel heis holding could be perceived as either offering or gift from thegods. According to Mark, the people of Mesopotamia mainly practicedAgriculture hence fertile land and water were considered as blessingsfrom the gods (par4). The vessel in this statue is pouring water, avaluable resource in the land of Mesopotamia, representing blessingsor provision of resources from the gods to the people. The look ofloyalty on the statue`s facial expression places Gudea in aconciliatory position between the gods and human, which was expectedof rulers in the ancient Mesopotamia.

Anotherfascinating feature of the composition of this item is theexaggerated big upper body (the shoulders and arms) and the head(Snell 292). It is important to note that this was a common styleamong other statues from Mesopotamia especially during the times whenthis statue was carved. The enlarged upper part of the statue ensuresthe viewer`s attention remain focused on the face, chest andshoulders. The eyes of the statue are wide open looking upwards.Strong warriors have strong bodies with broad chest and shoulders.Rulers in Ancient Mesopotamia led their warriors into battles, andhence the statue presents Gudea as a strong warrior. The eyes arewide open suggesting that the ruler was a daring and courageoussoldier. The arms of this piece are uptight as a result of the firmgrasp of the vessel being held. The tensed arms of the figureemphasize the weight of the vessel (gift or blessings) the statue iscarrying.

Anotherphysical feature of great relevance in the historical context inwhich this statue was carved is the caption on the face of the gown.Despite the fact the viewer cannot tell the meaning of the words, theaudience cannot fail to recognize that Gudea was on an authoritativelevel in his society. Many of the votive pieces were accompanied bywritings explaining the deeds and achievements of the personifiedindividual especially about worship and devotion to gods (Jacobsenpar2). The sculptor portrays Gudea as a strong, devoted leader,occupying a commanding position and successful.

Fromthe first glance, the statue catches a viewer’s eyes with itsupward gaze. However, as one admires the statue and pursues theoutline and texture to the center, it points the attention of theobserver to the earth. The water from the vessel is pouring andsplashing down on the ground (Bahrani 110). This style of carvingaimed at emphasizing abundance of resources and sustainability in theland of Mesopotamia. The water splashing on the earth suggests theflow of blessing and resources such as rain from the gods to theland. Mesopotamia enjoyed the abundance of resources such as riversand fertile land thus, the statue has great symbolism to Providence. The flow between the gods and ground bestows upon Gudea both therole of a mediator and provider.


Bahrani,Zainab. Women of Babylon:&nbspGenderand Representation in Mesopotamia. Routledge, 2013. Print.

Jacobsen,Thorkild. Mesopotamianreligion, 2014. Web.

Mark,Joshua. Mesopotamia: Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2009. Web.

Snell,Daniel C., ed. A companion to the ancient Near East. John Wiley &ampSons, 289-292. 2008. Print.