When looking at the votive statue of Gudea, we are confronted with a regal image of servitude and sustainability. This two and a half foot statue made in the votive style, signifies devotion and worship with eyes cast to the gods (or goddess as many interpretations suggest). The Statue is made out of diorite which is not an easy material for carving. There were many made like this one, suggesting the importance of the figure, Gudea, who was a ruler in southern Mesopotamian 2144-2124 BC. The hardness of the material has a significant impact of the detail of the carving; the creator had to choose what elements to accentuate texturally and such. Which makes it easy to assume that the water flowing from a vase held tightly by this stout, muscular figure is of great importance. The texture of the water that flows down from the vessel is very stylized with fish jumping in the water that flows past the statues feet and spills onto the surrounding area. This leads me to perceive this devoted figure as a provider.
The figure is made in the votive style, however unlike many votive statues, He is carrying something in his hands. By contextualizing the figure as a votive, or worship item, this addition could either be taken as an offering or gift from the gods. The way that the flowing water is engulfing the figure and falling on the floor around the votive suggests that is a gift, perhaps to the people of Mesopotamia. This display of resources, in companionship with the look of devotion on the statues face places Gudea as a intermediary position between god, and mortal.
In spite of the figures size, it has a strong powerful presence that I am sure is felt more intensely when in its presence. While it is not imposing in scale the muscles on the shoulders and forearms are exaggerated, and the texture given to the head piece suggest a regal position. Furthermore, the inscriptions made on the front of the gown, even without knowing the meaning, tell the viewer that Gudea was in a commanding role. Many votive statues held inscriptions of things that the one personified had done in honor of the gods. Knowing this, the statue of Gudea appears very devoted, commanding and accomplished.
Another interesting aspect of the composition of this piece is the disproportionately large upper body and head. This was a predominate style in many votive statues and other statues from Mesopotamia around this time period. This abnormal proportion draws attention to the face, chest and shoulders. Showing strength, strain, and attention the eyes are peeled widely open, looking up. The arms of this votive are tense, the left hand grips the vessel tightly by this detail the sculptor accentuated the weight of the “gift” the statue is holding.
A key element of this statues is the contrast in texture that we see between the water, and Godea himself. The shoulders of Godea along with the rest of him (excluding the head piece and inscriptions) are relatively smooth, and realistic. The dimple on the statues chin,curve of the lips and detailed lines of the eyebrows are made to look real, same with the feet and arms. This is in great contrast to the rivers of water that flow down both sides of his body.
The two streams of water that are spilling forth from the vessel held in the figures hands are very stylized. They are unrealistic to say the least. Fish can be seen jumping, adding to the water even more motion than was already given by the wavy stylishness of the water itself. The lines are well defined and stand out from the body of the statue, calling attention to its significance. The fish are also very stylized and less realistic then the rest of the figure. While Godea and the vessel are carved in the round (three-dimensional) the water and the fish are both flatter. Maybe only standing out half an inch or so, creating contrast and drawing attention.
The way that the figure may first catch your eyes with its upward stare and then as you follow the form to is center, it leads you back to the earth with water that is spilling forth, suggests sustainability, and abundance in resources. The gaze of the figure being focused upwards, while the feet remain grounded and surrounded by a downward flow of fish and water, signify to me a flow between heaven and earth. This flow is what enables votive statue of Godea to embody not only the position of devotion but also provision.