In Wolkstein and Kramer's telling of "Inanna and the God of Wisdom" (ISBN 978-0060908546)

Inanna placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head.
She went to the sheepfold, to the shepard.
She leaned back against the apple tree.
When she leaned against the apple tree, her vulva was wonderous to behold.
Rejoicing at her wounderous vulva, the young woman Inanna applauded herself.

Full text is available here

She then proceeds to visit Enki, the God of Wisdom, and receives the me.

Why does Inanna admire her vulva in this passage, and why does this prompt her to visit Enki? What does this symbolize?

  • 2
    +1 for making me laugh out loud several times.
    – Ixrec
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 21:28
  • 2
    This makes me wonder what pornographic material of today will be myths of the distant future... o_o Commented May 9, 2015 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


I will admit that I'm not a scholar on the subject and mostly just speculating from what I have available to me, but maybe my speculation is better than nothing, lacking another answer.

My interpretation is that Inanna has just matured enough to realize her own majesty, as seen not only by her delight at her own beauty but also by her placing the crown upon her head. In realizing her majesty, she also feels that the me belong rightly to herself rather than to Enki, and therefore she goes to retrieve them.

You may also find this text interesting in the context; it appears to be a more "raw" translation of the original tablets. In particular, it includes the following fragments (that Inanna speak) in the beginning which seem to be missing from your version of the text:

When I have gratified the lord ……, when I have made …… brilliant, when I have made …… beautiful, when I have made …… glorious, when I have ……, when I have made …… perfect, when I have made …… luxuriant, when I have made …… exuberant, when I have made …… shining (?), when I have made …… return, when I have made …… brilliant, when I have made …… shimmering

I quote them as they appear to me to support my interpretation that Inanna has grown to realize her own greatness.

But again, I'm really not very well-versed in Sumerian myth. I hope someone might be able to give a more informed answer.


Doing some more reading, I found that Wolkstein does provide some information on this bit of text, which expresses a similar meaning to @Dolda2000's answer:

In Sumerian, the word for sheepfold, womb, vulva, loins, and lap are the same. The images presented in the first few lines - shepherd, sheepfold, apple tree, young woman, and vulva - are all related to fertility. Gone is the brooding, fearful adolescent girl of "The Huluppu Tree." Inanna has received her throne and crown. The story of "Inanna and the God of Wisdom" begins with Inanna delighting in her womanhood and wishing to test its powers.

Which provides some insight into the emphasis on fertility, but apart from that seems to agree, that she realizes her maturity and greatness, and, given that knowledge, sets out to claim her due.

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