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... the role of the king of Lagash as the builder of the sacred building of Ningirsu. The statue thus exalts the royal function more than the religious context of the artefact. The ritual concerning the fashioning and birth of Gudea’s Statue B relies on this special reference to the construction work and the attitude of the king, and on the place (the temple) where the image is finally set and displayed. The body of the king (the statue) pertains to both the body of the ruler (his physical person) and the living body of the temple (by means of the plan represented on the king’s lap). At the same time, the living body (the temple) is the result of the work of the ruler of Lagash, and it includes and keeps the body of the king (the statue). Within this scheme of cross references, one should in fact include the statue of the god Ningirsu (the body of the god), which was probably placed inside the temple; perhaps even in a direct association with the statue of Gudea.7 Rituals were necessary to make the statues of the god and the king live. Moreover, in the case of the presence of the royal and divine statues within the temple, rituals should not be necessarily seen as being linked to the religion and the development of a religious practice; yet, it could be contem- plated and indeed could become a prerogative later. This non-religious finality, or at least not its first and immediate nature, of the ritual involving royal images might be more evidently intimated by those royal material pictures placed in the open urban context; carved in the natu- ral landscape; and displayed in the rooms of the royal residences. Thus, they are not placed in a temple location, as is the case of the Assyrian royal palaces with long sculptured walls depicting the king’s deeds in war and hunting. When material pictures and statues are the recipients of a ritual, they go through the performance of suitable actions that transform their natures and qualities from inanimate objects into living bodies. They become part of the living world in order to explain and change aspects and propositions of the world. However, the final ritual, as for example “the opening of the eyes” and “the opening and washing of the mouth”, are the last moments that make the statues live with their own desires and loves. Statues start living and so they interact with the neighbouring world once they are consecrated as the material picture of either a deity or a king. They interact with other living and physical bodies, as well as with other living statues, as one might suppose from the written and visual sources of Gudea, king of Lagash. Irene Winter suggests that the statue of the standing Gudea was supposed to be placed inside the temple in front of the statue of the seated god Ningirsu, as one can see in the personal cylinder seal of the king of Lagash (Fig. 2).8 Indeed, ...

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