Notes: Provenance for formulaic rites to appease weather gods and disappearing deities?

Hannahannah and Hurrian-Hittite Mythology

Hittite Madonna and Child

The mother of all the gods in the mythology of the Hittite empire (which incorporated the Hurrian Kingdom) was Hannahannah or Hannahannas. According to Wikipedia, “hannas” is a Hittite word for grandmother, but no reference is provided for that etymology or term. It’s not clear whether Hannahannah is originally a Hittite or a Hurrian name for the all-Mother. Hittite is an Indo-European language, while Hurrian is part of an extinct language family, that may be related to some modern Caucasian languages. Hittite-Hurrian mythology survives largely in the form of fragmentary texts presenting versions of two ancient myths: the Missing or Vanishing God and the Slaying of the Dragon. Forms of these myths are found in many traditions, including Christianity, the story of Annapurna, as well as in the Filianic Scriptures. Hannahannah appears in various versions of the Myth of the Missing God. Her daughter, the goddess Inaras, is prominent in the Slaying of the Dragon. The account below of these myths, extant only in fragmentary tablets, is drawn from O.M. Gurney’s the Hittites.



Is Hannahannah the remote provenance for Kono-Hana the female vegetation deity of Mt Fuji?

“Konohanasakuya-hime, (木之花開耶姫, 木花咲耶姫 or 木花開耶姫, Konohananosakuya-hime), in Japanese mythology, is the blossom-princess and symbol of delicate earthly life. She is the daughter of the mountain god Ohoyamatsumi.[1] She is often considered an avatar of Japanese life, especially since her symbol is the sakura (cherry blossom). Kono-hana is also the goddess of Mount Fuji and all volcanoes.

Kono-hana is the wife of the god Ninigi. She met him on the seashore and they fell in love; Ninigi asked Oho-Yama, the father of Kono-hana for her hand in marriage. Oho-Yama proposed his older daughter, Iwa-Naga, instead, but Ninigi had his heart set on Kono-hana. Oho-Yama reluctantly agreed and Ninigi and Ko-no-hana married. Because Ninigi refused Iwa-Naga, the rock-princess, human lives are said to be short and fleeting, like the sakura blossoms, instead of enduring and long lasting, like stones.

Kono-hana became pregnant in just one night, causing suspicion in Ninigi. He wondered if this was the child of another kami. Kono-hana was enraged at Ninigi’s accusation and entered a doorless hut, which she then set fire to, declaring that the child would not be hurt if it were truly the offspring of Ninigi. Inside the hut, Ko-no-hana had three sons, Hoderi, Hosuseri and Hoori.[2][3]
Shrines have been built on Mount Fuji for Konohanasakuya-hime. It is believed that she will keep Mount Fuji from erupting,[4] but shrines to her at Kirishima have been repeatedly destroyed by volcanic eruptions.”  – source

The Slaying of the Dragon

The story begins with the Weather god (Teshub or Tarhunt) being worsted by the Dragon, Illuyankas. He appeals for help from the goddess Inaras (daughter of Hannahannah), and she plans a ruse. She invites a man called Hupasiyas to assist her in her plan, and he agrees that he will help if Inaras agrees to sleep with him. Inaras consents. The couple then prepare a banquet to which the Dragon and his children are invited. At the banquet, the Dragon and his kin indulge themselves so much that they are unable to return to their holes and Hapusiyas is able to bind the Dragon with a rope. The Weather-god then comes and slays the Dragon. Inaras builds a house of stone for Hupasiyas to dwell in. She tells him that she is going out for a time, but that he must not look out the window of he will see his wife and children. After twenty days, he can’t wait, and looks out the window and sees his mortal family. When Inaras returns, Hupasiyas no longer wishes to stay with her, and returns home with his family. In another version of the myth, the Weather-god himself devises the ruse after having lost his heart and eyes to the Dragon in battle. He begets a son with the daughter of a poor man. When the son has grown, the son marries the daughter of the Dragon, and so goes to live in the Dragon’s house. The Weather-god instructs him “when you enter the house of your bride, demand from them my heart and my eyes”. The stolen organs are returned, after which the Weather-god is able to defeat the Dragon. The son demands that his father slay him as well, which his father does. Gurney notes the significance of the son going to live in his wife’s house, suggesting this represents the ancient practice of mother-right whereby the wife remained in her mother’s house, an arrangement that was still recognized in that period and into Assyrian times. He is otherwise perplexed by the stories, considering them just primitive folklore. We can speculate on the metaphysical significance of this myth. Hupasiyas represents the spiritual seeker. The Dragon represents the inner lust and wrath that binds us to mortality. Inaras is the true Self or Atman. Sleeping with her is samadhi, marriage to her is moksha. The Weather-god represents the power that can defeat the Dragon. Hupasiyas successfully subdues the Dragon, who is then bound. Hupasiyas is still tied by love of his mortal family and so is unable to achieve moksha. In the second version, the son of the Weather god, representing the lower mind, succeeds in the quest by being slain by the Weather-god, and thus, by implication, enters into union with Inaras, the true form of the bride. The heart and eyes are the spiritual faculties, love and wisdom, bhakti and jnani, that must be won to succeed in the quest.

The Missing God

The story of the missing god appears in various versions. In some, the missing god is Telipinu, god of agriculture, son of the Weather god. In one version it is the Weather-god who is missing. In the Yuzgat fragment several deities, including the Sun god are missing. Gurney presents the story in the Telipinu version. The beginning of the story is missing, but begins with Telipinu departing in haste in a temper. A blight follows in which no conception occurs, plants don’t grow and animals reject their offspring. Gods, men and animals begin to starve. The gods start to search for Telipinu, and the Sun-god sends out the eagle, saying “Go, search the high mountains, search the hollow valleys, search the dark-blue waters.” The eagle returns with no news. The Weather god goes to the All-Mother Hannahannah for advice, and she tells him to search for Telipinu himself. The Weather-god arrives at a town where the gates are shut and breaks the shaft of his hammer trying to enter. He returns to Hannahannah, and she now proposes to send out her bee to find Telipinu and to sting and purify him. The Weather-god protests, doubting that since the gods have failed, that the bee can find Telipinu. The bee goes out and finds Telipinu, according to one text, sleeping in a meadow near Lihzina (a cult center of the Weather god). The bee stings Telipinu, who awakes and goes off in a fresh rage, destroying people, crops and livestock. The text is fragmentary, but in the end Telipinu is returned home on the back of the eagle. The goddess of healing Kamrusepas performs rituals to exorcise the wrath of Telipinu, who returns to his temple and restores fertility to the land. According to Christopher B. Siren, Hannahannah also disappears for a time, contributing to the general dissolution until her anger is banished to the underworld. The story is also connected with Inaras’ disappearance. The story of the bee appears in only some fragments, but healing power of honey and the bee sting are extant in folklore. For example, in the Finnish epic, the Kalevala, Lemminkainen is slain and brought back to life by magic honey sent by the hero’s mother from the ninth heaven. The bee also appears in the cults of Cybele and Artemis whose devotees were known as melissai or bees.

Other Hittite Goddesses

The principal Hurrian gods were the storm god Teshub and the goddess Hebat or Hepit, considered equal in rank. Hebat is represented with a lion (like Sri Durga and Inanna). The goddess Shaushka, daughter of Teshub and Hebat, is also represented with a lion. The Hittite King Mursilis II (1321-1295) opens his annals with a dedication to the “Sun-goddess of Arinna, my Lady”, praising her for defeating his enemies and granting him the throne. The symbolic title of the King in this late period of the empire is “the Sun”. Arinna was a holy center, believed to be a day’s journey from the capital, Hattusas, sacred to the Sun-goddess Wurusemu. The Hittite King Hatusilis III (reigned 1266-1237 and known for his annals) dedicates his biography to “Ishtar of Samuha” praising her for granting him the throne. He writes that she appeared to his wife in a dream, saying “I am helping your husband, and all Hattusas will turn to the side of your husband.” Urhi-Teshub or Mursilis III, Hatusilis’s predecessor, is subsequently defeated at Samuha, sacred to Ishtar, after which he is banished, a merciful fate. The Akkadian Ishtar is identified with Sumerian Inanna and the Hurrian Shaushka. The earliest known musical composition, known as hymn number six, is a Hurrian composition for for harp and voice that dates to about 1400 B.C., the period of the conquest of the Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni by the Hittites. The hymn is dedicated to the wife of Nikal, god of the Moon. A number of versions of the hymn have been performed.

source: Wikispaces
the Hurrian and Mittani kingdoms

The weakening of the Semitic states in Mesopotamia after 1550 enabled the Hurrians to penetrate deeper into this region, where they founded numerous small states in the eastern parts of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Syria. The Hurrians came from northwestern Iran, but until recently very little was known about their early history. After 1500, isolated dynasties appeared with Indo- Aryan names, but the significance of this is disputed. The presence of Old Indian technical terms in later records about horse breeding and the use of the names of Indian gods (such as, for example, Indra and Varuna) in some compacts of state formerly led several scholars to assume that numerous groups of Aryans, closely related to the Indians, pushed into Anatolia from the northeast. They were also credited with the introduction of the light war chariot with spoked wheels. This conclusion, however, is by no means established fact. So far it has not been possible to appraise the numbers and the political and cultural influence of the Aryans in Anatolia and Mesopotamia relative to those of the Hurrians.

Some time after 1500 the kingdom of Mitanni (or Mittani) arose near the sources of the Khabur River in Mesopotamia. Since no record or inscription of their kings has been unearthed, little is known about the development and history of the Mitanni kingdom before King Tushratta. The Mitanni empire was known to the Egyptians under the name of Naharina, and Thutmose III fought frequently against it after 1460 BC. By 1420 the domain of the Mitanni king Saustatar (Saushatar) stretched from the Mediterranean all the way to the northern Zagros Mountains, in western Iran, including Alalakh, in northern Syria, as well as Nuzi, Kurrukhanni, and Arrapkha. The northern boundary dividing Mitanni from the Hittites and the other Hurrian states was never fixed, even under Saustatar’s successors Artatama I and Shuttarna II, who married their daughters to the pharaohs Thutmose IV (1400-1390) and Amenhotep III (1390-1353). Tushratta (c. 1365-c. 1330), the son of Shuttarna, was able to maintain the kingdom he had inherited for many years. In his sometimes very long letters–one of them written in Hurrian–to Amenhotep III and Akhenaton (1353-1336), he wrote about commerce, his desire for gold, and marriage. Weakened by internal strife, the Mitanni kingdom eventually became a pawn between the rising kingdoms of the Hittites and the Assyrians.

The kingdom of Mitanni was a feudal state led by a warrior nobility of Aryan or Hurrian origin. Frequently horses were bred on their large landed estates. Documents and contract agreements in Syria often mention a chariot-warrior caste that also constituted the social upper class in the cities. The aristocratic families usually received their landed property as an inalienable fief. Consequently, no documents on the selling of landed property are to be found in the great archives of Akkadian documents and letters discovered in Nuzi, near Kirkuk. The prohibition against selling landed property was often dodged, however, with a stratagem: the previous owner “adopted” a willing buyer against an appropriate sum of money. The wealthy lord Tehiptilla was “adopted” almost 200 times, acquiring tremendous holdings of landed property in this way without interference by the local governmental authorities. He had gained his wealth through trade and commerce and through a productive two-field system of agriculture (in which each field was cultivated only once in two years). For a long time, Prince Shilwa-Teshub was in charge of the royal governmental administration in the district capital. Sheep breeding was the basis for a woolen industry, and textiles collected by the palace were exported on a large scale. Society was highly structured in classes, ranks, and professions. The judiciary, patterned after the Babylonian model, was well organized; the documents place heavy emphasis on correct procedure.

Native sources on the religion of the Hurrians of the Mitanni kingdom are limited; about their mythology, however, much is known from related Hittite and Ugaritic myths. Like the other peoples of the ancient Middle East, the Hurrians worshiped gods of various origins. The king of the gods was the weather god Teshub. According to the myths, he violently deposed his father Kumarbi; in this respect he resembled the Greek god Zeus, who deposed his father Kronos. The war chariot of Teshub was drawn by the bull gods Seris (“Day”) and Hurris (“Night”). Major sanctuaries of Teshub were located at Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) and at Halab (modern Aleppo) in Syria. In the east his consort was the goddess of love and war Shaushka, and in the west the goddess Hebat (Hepat); both were similar to the Ishtar-Astarte of the Semites.

The sun god Shimegi and the moon god Kushuh, whose consort was Nikkal, the Ningal of the Sumerians, were of lesser rank. More important was the position of the Babylonian god of war and the underworld, Nergal. In northern Syria the god of war Astapi and the goddess of oaths Ishara are attested as early as the 3rd millennium BC.

In addition, a considerable importance was attributed to impersonal numina such as heaven and earth as well as to deities of mountains and rivers. In the myths the terrible aspect of the gods often prevails over indications of a benevolent attitude. The cults of sacrifices and other rites are similar to those known from the neighbouring countries; many Hurrian rituals were found in Hittite Anatolia. There is abundant evidence for magic and oracles.

Temple monuments of modest dimensions have been unearthed; in all probability, specific local traditions were a factor in their design. The dead were probably buried outside the settlement. Small artifacts, particularly seals, show a peculiar continuation of Babylonian and Assyrian traditions in their preference for the naturalistic representation of figures. There were painted ceramics with finely drawn decorations (white on a dark background). The strong position of the royal house was evident in the large palaces, existing even in district capitals. The palaces were decorated with frescoes. Because only a few Mitanni settlements have been unearthed in Mesopotamia, knowledge of Mitanni arts and culture is as yet insufficient.

Source :

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s