Mesopotamian goddess

Nisaba (Sumerian: 𒀭𒉀 DNAGA; later 𒀭𒊺𒉀 DŠE.NAGA), is the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. She was worshiped in shrines and sanctuaries at Umma and Ereš, and was often praised by Sumerian scribes. She is considered the patroness of mortal scribes as well as the scribe of the gods. In the Babylonian period, her worship was mainly was redirected towards the god Nabu, who took over her functions.

A goddess who may be Nisaba depicted on a fragment of a chlorite vase. c. 2430 BC. Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

Quotes about Nisaba

  • On the day when the bowls of rations are inspected, Nance also inspects the servants during the appointments. Her chief scribe Nisaba places the precious tablets on her knees and takes a golden stylus in her hand. She arranges the servants in single file for Nance and then it will be decided whether or not a leather-clad servant can enter before her in his leather, whether or not a linen-clad servant can pass before her in his linen. Any registered and hired person about whom observers and witnesses claim to witness his fleeing from the house will be terminated in his position.
  • In order to make barley and flax grow in the furrows, so that excellent corn can be admired; to provide for the seven great throne-daises by making flax shoot forth and making barley shoot forth at the harvest, the great festival of Enlil -- in her great princely role she has cleansed her body and has put the holy priestly garment on her torso. In order to establish bread offerings where none existed, and to pour forth great libations of alcohol, so as to appease the god of grandeur, Enlil, and to appease merciful Kusu and Ezina, she will appoint a great en priest, and will appoint a festival; she will appoint a great en priest of the Land. He approaches the maiden Nisaba in prayer. He has organised pure food-offerings; he has opened up Nisaba's house of learning, and has placed the lapis-lazuli tablet on her knees, for her to consult the holy tablet of the heavenly stars. In Aratta he has placed E-zagina at her disposal. You have built up Erec in abundance, founded from little [...] bricks, you who are granted the most complex wisdom!
  • In the abzu, the great crown of Eridug, where sanctuaries are apportioned [...] -- when Enki, the great princely farmer of the awe-inspiring temple, the carpenter of Eridug, the master of purification rites, the lord of the great en priest's precinct, occupies E-engur, and when he builds up the abzu of Eridug;
    when he takes counsel in Hal-an-kug, when he splits with an axe the house of boxwood; when the sage's hair is allowed to hang loose, when he opens the house of learning, when he stands in the street of the door of learning; when he finishes the great dining-hall of cedar, when he grasps the date-palm mace, when he strikes the priestly garment with that mace, then he utters seven [words] to Nisaba, the supreme nursemaid:
    "O Nisaba, good woman, fair woman, woman born in the mountains! Nisaba, may you be the butter in the cattle-pen, may you be the cream in the sheepfold, may you be keeper of the seal in the treasury, may you be a good steward in the palace, may you be a heaper up of grain among the grain piles and in the grain stores!"
    Because the Prince Enki cherished Nisaba, O father Enki, it is sweet to praise you!
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