Bet Nahrain Assyrian Heritage Centre

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June 20, 2017

Hello Lovely People!

 

I hope you are all doing well and enjoy some of the works that have been posted so far. For this blog, I was having a bit of trouble getting information, so I thought, hey why not go a different route? So, that’s exactly what I did. I was going to write an informative piece about all the khigga’s in the Assyrian culture, but once I started researching, I found that, well, nothing. Apparently most of our historical facts were passed down through word of mouth. I know right! How could they not write something down? It’s okay I guess, so I thought why not focus on one khigga, its legends/myths and go from there. One of my friends started talking about Tamzara and that she had learned how to dance it recently, so I started from there. How about we get to learning something now, shall we?

 

Well, first thing is first the Tamzara dance was brought to Anatolia, during its conquering by the ancient Assyrians[5]. They performed the dance for the god Tammuz, to welcome the new land and for its prosperity in agriculture and more[1].

 

Legend has it that Tammuz was the “good, and young one,” being the most handsome out of his siblings[2]. He was a demigod shepherd born to a chief god, named Enki, and a mother, named Duttur, goddess of sheep[2]. His name translated Ama-ga (mother of milk) and U-lu-lu (multiplier of pasture), gives him the ultimate power for being a shepherd[3]. When Inanna saw him, she wanted him, so she took him as her consort[5]. Now you may be thinking who is this Inanna lady, keep in mind that this legend is over 4000 years old, and she is more well known then you think. The Assyrian people, more commonly, refer to her as Ishtar.

 

Ishtar was considered the goddess of love, fertility and warfare[5]. Now this is where it gets tricky, there are two parts to the legend one more common than the other. The less common goes something along the lines that, Tammuz was dragged to the underworld and Ishtar went after him to resurrect him[5]. More commonly, it was believed that Ishtar went into the underworld to steal the thrown from her sister[3]. Once Anunnaki, the judges of the underworld, discovered this, they captured and sentenced Ishtar to death and her body hung by a nail for display[5]. When Ishtar died, all love, fertility, and warfare died with her[3]. Leaving the living world to seize procreating[5].

 "Ishtar in Hades" - Wallcousins  

Enki saw that this was a problem, so he made a deal with Ishtar[5]. She could return to the land of the living only if she found an individual to take her place[3]. That someone she found, had to not have been mourning her death[3]. Ishtar searched everywhere, but could not find anyone, that is, until she went to her thrown room and saw Tammuz sitting on her thrown[2]. How could he! Right…did I mention he was looking mighty fine as well.

 

Ishtar was enraged and sent her demons after him, but he fled to his sister, Geshtianna’s, house[3]. Luckily, for Ishtar that is, the demons found him and dragged him into the underworld and she was set free[5]. After some time, Ishtar felt as though she was too rash in condemning Tammuz, so she appealed to Enki[2]. He decided that Tammuz could be in the land of the living for part of the year, and while he was there his sister would take his place in the underworld.

 

Now bringing it back to the Assyrian’s conquering of Anatolia, they danced the Tamzara during two festivals in the year[3]. Celebrating Tammuz first at the beginning of spring when the crops began to grow, representing Tammuz’s resurrection into the land of the living[3]. The second would be during the harvest season, representing his descent into the underworld for his part of the year[3].

The people dancing would dress to the finest, the women would wear golden things all over[1]. Gold earrings, rings, and chains that sparkle, to show the prosperity[4].

 

That’s it for now, my friends. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I loved researching and learning about it. if you guys have any suggestions about anything to write about email, Facebook, Instagram, Tweet or Snap us back @betnahrainahc!

 

 

 

 

References

[1] BetBasoo, P. P. (2003).  Thirty Assyrian Folk Dances. Retrieved June 15, 2017 from                 http://www.aina.org/articles/tafd.pdf  

 

[2] Tammuz. (2015, November 13). New World Encyclopedia, Retrieved June 16, 2017                    from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?                                                    title=Tammuz&oldid=992004.

 

[3] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. Tammuz - Mesopotamian God. Retrieved June             16, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tammuz-Mesopotamian-god

 


 Wallcouins, E. (Photographer). Ishtar in Hades [Digital Image].                                                      Retrieved from http://www.billstifler.org/HUM2130/files/3D-012-                                           Tammuz_and_Ishtar.htm

 

[4] Wenzel, B., Wenzel, C., Gardner, B. (2001, October). Tamzara. Retrieved from                           http://www.folkdance.com/LDNotations/Tamzara2001LD.pdf

 

[5] Who was the demi-god Tammuz?. Retrieved June 17, 2017, from                                               https://www.compellingtruth.org/tammuz.html

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