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Luddigira’s Message to His Mother:

This poem was written by a Sumerian nobleman from Nippur to his mother on a tablet. His name is Luddigira. He wrote this poem to say hi and to lighten her heart while he was travelling.  It was written circa 1700 BCE, so approximately 3,700 years old.

It was translated from Sumerian to Turkish by one of the most prominent Sumerologs in the world, Prof. Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ. She is currently 107 years old, retired a few years ago. My aunt Selma Emler knew both her and her husband well, as they worked at the Topkapi Palace Museum, in the same building. They were of Crimean Turkish descent; therefore, my father knew them too. Wait, there is more: their son Murat was my classmate in my boarding school in Istanbul during my middle/high school years, 1962-1969.

You might find other English translations of this letter here and there, but I did not find one as passionate as I thought it should be. So, I translated it from Turkish into English (loosely) with an emphasis to convey the emotions as accurately as I could.

My guess is that Luddigira was travelling a few weeks after the first barley sowing festival (Akitum), sometime in early May. Which makes it perfect for current day Mother’s Day. I only wish I had the opportunity to tell these beautiful words to my mom while she was alive. She would be so happy. The translation process was a joyful tearjerker for me, I hope you enjoy it too.  

To My Dear Mother

By Luddigira,

Royal courier, now start your journey!

I want to send you to Nippur -- deliver this message!

I had a long journey.

My mother is in sorrow, she cannot sleep

Although her room is blocked to all worrisome gossip,

She keeps asking all travellers how I am doing,

Deliver my letter of greeting into her hands,


If you don’t know my mother, let me describe her to you:

Her name is Sha-Tishtar

With a brilliantly shining appearance

She has the pleasantness of a Goddess, a sweet bride

She has been respected since the days of her youth.

She keeps the order in the house of her father-in-law.

She serves humbly her husband’s God.

She knows how to look after Goddess Inana's place.

She never disregards king’s wishes.

She is loved, and she is full of love.

Like a lamb, sweet butter, honey, flowing ghee from her heart, she is.


Let me give you a second description of my mother:

My mother is like the bright light on the horizon, a doe on the hills.

She is the bright shining morning star,

She is precious carnelian, a topaz from Marhashi.

She is the most attractive preciousness of a king's brother, full of beauty.

She is a carnelian source of joy

She is a bracelet of tin, a ring of iron,

She is a chisel of gold and a shining silver,

A breathing (sighing) ivory statuette,

She is an alabaster angel standing on a pedestal of lapis lazuli.


Let me give you a third description of my mother:

My mother is rain from heaven, the first water for seeds

A rich garden full of fruits

A beautiful fir tree adorned with many cones

The crop in the first month of the new year.

She is an irrigation canal bringing fertility to farmed lands.

She is a sweet Dilmun date, the sweetest date much sought after.


Let me give you a fourth description of my mother:

My mother is full of joy and offerings in akitum* festival,

She is what princesses are made of, a song of abundance.

She has endless joy, her heart loving and loved

She is the glad tidings for a captive returning to his mother.


Let me give you a fifth description of my mother:

She is a chariot of pine wood, a palanquin made of boxwood

In a beautiful dress, sprinkled with perfume,

A garland on her head, fitting perfectly


These descriptions I gave you, you’ll recognize my mother,

That pleasant one that radiates her presence; she is my mother.

As she silently (anxiously) waits for news from me,

Please give her my message joyously

Tell her “Greetings from your dear son Luddigira”


Source: The Life Story of Ludingirra, Tablet 16, Translated to Turkish by Sumerolog Prof. Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ. Translated to English by Cemil Otar in 2021.

* Akitu or Akitum is a spring festival held in the first month of Nisanu (~ April) in ancient Mesopotamia, to celebrate the sowing of barley. The Babylonian and Assyrian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual.

The first description is her name and place in the community.

The second description is her appearance and beauty,

The third description is how useful and resourceful she is to the community.

The fourth description is her attitude and demeanor in life.

And finally, the fifth description is about how precious she is.




The Map of ancient Mesopotamia (Source: Wikipedia):