Queen of the Night Relief

Step 5 of 8

The goddess of prostitution, Inanna

Related images

Fig. 10 - Cylinder seal with Inanna and her lion and weapons - Oriental institute of Chicago - [A27903](https://oi-idb.uchicago.edu/id/90eec75d-0343-4a85-8810-ad0cdcc2a081)Fig. 11 - Mold of an Inanna figurine -  British Museum - [103226](https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1910-1112-4)Fig. 12 - Assyrian relief with scaly pattern depicting the mountains - British Museum - [102072](https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1897-1008-1)

Another candidate for the identity of the Queen of the Night is the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, also called Ishtar. Inanna was the goddess of war and sexual intimacy and is often pictured with her lion by her side (Fig. 10). The goddess is also often depicted with wings, as a symbol to her connection with the planet Venus (Fig. 11).

Some researchers believe that the relief shows Inanna in her form as goddess of prostitution, and that the queen of the night relief used to be located in a brothel. The arguments for this theory are the lions depicted on the relief and the scaly pattern that represents mountains, possibly the mountains east of Mesopotamia, said to be the birthplace of Inanna. Furthermore, the goddess on the relief is shown without clothes, which could also suggest that the woman has a connection with prostitution.

Another theory linked to Inanna is that she is depicted on the Burney relief in her underworld form. In one of the myths about Inanna, she journeys to the underworld to her sister Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. During her journey Inanna had to take off one piece of clothing or jewelry for every gate to the underworld she passed through, seven in total. This could be why the goddess was depicted naked on the relief. The myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld also describes her as wearing a lapis lazuli necklace, similar to the one the Queen of the Night is wearing. Furthermore, the mountains on which the Queen is standing could depict the mountains where the gate to the underworld is located (Fig. 12). Collon, D., 2005. The Queen of the Night(. London: British Museum Press: 43-44