Sunday, 19 July 2020

Pissing gazelles

This is a wall painting from a provincial palace on the Assyrian borderlands, c. 9th - 7th century BC, depicting a "demigod holding animals that urinate on him to purify him". OMG...This thread is about why I love this image and why I hate the proposed explanation for it...


First why I love this image. I saw it for the first time today and I couldn't believe what I was looking at: probably the earliest depiction of the phrase "It's pissing rain" ๐Ÿ™‚

The reason why I believe that what is symbolically depicted on this image is "the arrival of the rain season" is because of the pissing animals the "demigod" is holding. They are most likely Bezoar goats, the Levantine and Mesopotamian "Goats of Rain"... I talked about the link between Bezoar goats and rain in Mesopotamia in my post "Queen Puabi's seal

Their mating season starts at the same time when the rain season starts in Levant and Mesopotamia, which is why they were linked with the rain cult through out the region...

Of course we can't be sure that the animals are indeed Bezoars because unfortunately we can't see their heads. But we can see their bodies and the only two animals which fit the anatomy of the depicted animals are Bezoar ibex and Fallow deer...

Why I think the animal is not the Fallow deer is because of the tail. Fallow deer have longer tails than the ones depicted on the wall painting while the Bezoar tails match depiction exactly...




But maybe I am wrong...

So this is why I love the image.

And  why I hate the original proposed explanation...

"Purifying by piss"??? 

Purifying by rain conjured by the "Goat of rain" makes much more sense to me...

But as I said already, I could be wrong...

PS: I was wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

I might have misidentified the pissing animals, but I was right about the meaning of the scene. When I first proposed my interpretation of the image, I was told that maybe another animal could have been doing the pissing: Goitered gazelle...


Goitered gazelle, found in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, parts of Iraq and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia. Mating in early winter, when rains arrive...At the same time as Bezoar goat.  And it has the same tail as Bezoar goat...

And believe or not, it seems that Goitered gazelle is as frequently depicted on Mesopotamian seals as Bezoar, and sometimes they are depicted together. Like on this seal on which a winged goddess standing between two Bezoar goats and holding two Goitered gazelles. 


I believe Inanna at the moment when she descends into Abzu, the source of all fresh water, basically at the beginning of the winter rain season, which starts when both Bezoar goats and Goitered gazelles start their mating season...

The rain which brings life to Mesopotamia, symbolised by then Palm Tree, the Mesopotamian Tree of Life.

So...All hail the urinating Goat/Gazelle!!!

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