Dead Names, Dead Dog: The Head of Huwawa, Part 3

So, after these last four sections, we arrive once again at Dead Names:

His face was depicted as a mass of entrails, specifically the small intestines. I believe that the glyph of Humwawa in the Necronomicon showing his face as a mass of entrails is probably how he was perceived in later Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, and further, that only his head is shown in this glyph may be an allusion that the monster was beheaded.

As one of our commenters points out, there actually are depictions of Huwawa with his face as a mass of entrails.  We also allude to this in The Necronomicon Files.  Hey, I’ll go one better and link to a mask in the British Museum.

What “Simon” is saying here, though, is different:  that Huwawa’s face was commonly considered to resemble intestines.  That’s not a safe assumption, if you take a minute to think about it.   If a grilled cheese sandwich looks like the Virgin Mary, it doesn’t mean the Virgin Mary looks like grilled cheese sandwiches in general.

As we’ve already covered, no account from the Epic itself describes Huwawa’s face as resembling entrails.  That doesn’t mean that this depiction couldn’t have become the norm at a later time, of course.  So, how can we be sure?

There’s a simple way to figure this one out.  If Huwawa’s face was thought to be a mass of entrails, we should have plenty of pictures of Huwawa with that gross face and none of him as an ordinary-looking, or even monstrous-looking, chap.  On the other hand, if the entrails looked like Huwawa’s face, we’d find both sorts of depictions.

At this point, I can’t show you much evidence, because Gut-Face Huwawa looks much cooler (and therefore gets more reproduction) than Regular-Face Huwawa.  To start, you can check out the cover of Foster’s translation, which features a Huwawa with some curious lines on his face and chiefly horrible for his bowl cut.  If you go to page 41 of the same book, you’ll get to see depictions of both types of faces.  Thus, it’s likely that Huwawa’s face was depicted as entrails only in order to guide divination, not because that was his ordinary appearance.

I can’t let one more statement by “Simon” on the topic go without notice:

(Had Gonce bothered to honestly represent the work by Black and Green, he might also have noticed the illustrations of Humwawa and asked himself if perhaps the “mass of entrails” description is more accurate than he would care to admit.)

As readers of this feature can already guess, “Simon’s” bluster conceals the fact that he himself isn’t honestly reporting the content of Black and Green.  Otherwise, he’d note the entry on Huwawa (or Humbaba) that appears scant inches above the giant’s ugly mug:

In art, Humbaba is typically portrayed as a human-bodied figure with lion’s claws for hands, a monstrous face, long hair and whiskers. [My emphasis]

It’s true that someone here has something gross on their face, but it looks more like egg…

Published in: on September 28, 2006 at 10:41 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The description of Humbaba as an EVIL entity with a face of entrails does not find its origin in Simon’s Necronomicon.

    It has been years since I’ve had a copy of Simon’s Necronomicon, but are there not whiskers on the sigil of Humwawa?

  2. […] What about Huwawa, or Humwawa, or Humbaba in the Necronomicon? Just to be different, we have Part 0, Part .5, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. […]

  3. The one picture still available from the links posted looks more like the way ancients in that area depicted hair than entrails. It looks like a Hittite statue with a hairy face.

    I think what is going on here is that Hawawa has dreadlocks, and this gets picked up again later in the Gorgon/Medusa retelling, where Medusa has snakey hair and gets beheaded, her head is dragged back to Zeus or something, and Perseus puts it on his AEgis shield as a goodluck talisman, where it becomes stylized as a trinacria, or three-legged swastika. The Gorgon thing is just crying out that it’s an assimilation from an earlier religion now in disrepute.

    I note Gilgamos made a boat out of the wood Hawawa was guarding. I note there wasn’t a lot of wood in Ur, Uruk and Sumer in general.


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