Ištar's Finery


Queen Pu-abi, in all her regalia: Her jewelry weighed 14 pounds. This is a recent reconstruction (2009) of the queen's finery, done by the UPenn Museum.

Queen Pu-abi's beaded cape, belt, and jewelry. The circle on the lower left is her garter; on the lower right is her wrist cuff (bracelet).

Details of the diadem. These were originally labeled as "stalks of grain", but were later identified as apples (center) and the male and female flowers of the date palm; all of which are believed to be symbols of fertility.

“Ok, now for the dress,” Tifani announced, as she looked up, and pointed to a dark, deep blue… something, possibly a dress? Two ladies brought over a solid dark blue Egyptian kalasiris in a two-layer format. The deep dark blue, almost black purple dress was the foundation layer, looking and feeling like shiny, smooth silk, and displaying many four-inch long tassels hanging from the bottom fringe. Just as soon as this was tugged and pulled and fitted here and there just perfectly, Tifani nodded her head, and the second servant helped bring another gown down around Katie’s head. This outside layer was magically heavenly; its linen ever so slightly tinted a pale blue, creating a divine, diaphanous covering that covered her dark blue dress from neck to toe.

“Now hold yours hands out,” Tifani directed the movie star. The diaphanous gown, held at Katie’s wrist by a heavy thickening of braided gold, opened up like a velociraptor, which hadn’t been discovered yet.

“Turn around, please.”

The velociraptor did, slowly. “I feel like a peacock,” Katie complained, remembering that peacocks were discovered by then.

“I like that look,” Tifani decided, nodding her head. She paused, thought briefly, and then continued to nod her head, more so now.

And then it was time for the jewelry. The treasures of the kingdom were brought out for Tifani’s closest scrutiny because only the very best objects were to be destined for display on the Mitanni Christmas Tree this happy day. She looked at Katie, who seemed to be leaning forward, about to get up. “Ištar, please! Sit down,” Tifani stopped her.

“And this piece came from King Tušratta just yesterday,” she said, wrapping a bracelet of semiprecious stone onto her wrist. Katie held it up to check out the charms. “What is the importance of these charms, Tifani?” she asked.

Tifani looked at her briefly with a surprised look. “Why, they are symbols of your fertile aspect, Ištar. They are symbols of fertility. Look closely, this first one, with the cluster of three balls. Do you see them on top of the leaves? That is an apple branch bearing fruit, the other two are also symbols of fruit. This one here, see those?”

“What, are these things feathers, pointing down?”

“No, this is the male flower of the date palm, and this one is the female flower,” she finished, pointing to the third golden charm, which looked like a hand with branching fingers, with pods of seeds developing along the open fingers.

Now Katie was wondering what the gifting of the charms from Tušratta meant. Right away the paranoids jumped in with their worries. He wants to get naked with you, that’s what they mean! The loudest immediately screamed. “Tifani, did Rabea talk to you about things, umm, after the ceremony, you know… besides Cedat and Elham?”

“Oh heavens, no, Ištar. She constantly worried about those two so much, always, gosh… and then she wouldn’t stop talking, she was so excited.”