Song of Humbaba


Long have i been here,
guardian of the cedar forest,
home of the gods.
Protector of the trees,
these noble beings,
tall of trunk and long of leaf.

The mother who bore me was a cave in the mountains.

Humbaba am i, defender of mountains!
Humbaba am i, protector of these forests!

These men, they know not of trees
Their color is clay, they stink of fish,
the reeds are their home.
They don not know the ferny glades,
the soft boughs of cedar.
they do not know the humus damp,
the piney scent.

They stink of fish. they know not of trees

They do not know the trees
like i know the trees.

Gilgamesh spoke “I will go the country where the cedar is felled… where no man’s name is written yet
i will raise a monument to the gods….we will go to the forest and destroy the evil; for in the forest lives Humbaba whose name is “Hugeness”, a ferocious giant.”

Enkidu sighed, then spoke “When i ranged with the wild beasts through the wilderness I discovered the forest; its length is ten thousand leagues in every direction. Enlil has appointed Humbaba to guard it and armed him in sevenfold terrors, terrible in all flesh is Humbaba. When he roars it is like the torrent of the storm, his breath is like fire, and his jaws are death itself… Gilgamesh, the watchman of the forest never sleeps.”
– penguin classics edition

His pugnacious mouth is a dragon’s maw; his face is a lion’s grimace. His chest is like a raging flood; no one dare approach (1 ms. has instead: can escape from) his brow, which devours the reed-beds. (2 mss. adds 1 line: A man-eating lion, he never wipes away the blood from his slaver.)
(1 ms. adds instead 5 lines: 1 line fragmentary
…… a lion eating a corpse, he never wipes away the blood
-Version A Gilgamesh and Huwawa ETCSL

“I ……, he vexes (?) me — the warrior whose face is a lion’s grimace, and whose breast is like a raging flood. No one dare approach his brow, which devours the reedbeds.
On his tongue, like that of a man-eating lion, the blood never dries. You do not have enough strength for the warrior, such is his might.”
-Version B

They come, they trick , they cheat , they steal.
They boast, they brag, they chop, they burn.
they come with their axes sharp
and their long daggers of bronze.

Ḫuwawa replied to him: “The mother who bore me was a cave in the mountains. The father who engendered me was a cave in the hills. Utu left me to live all alone in the mountains!”
-version B


the role of the terrors, (the glamors or auras) is confused and Indistinct in my mind.
Gilgamesh uses deceit to trick Humbaba out of his glamours, by offering him his sister for marriage, and shoes for his feet. (civilizing influences). When he has all the glamours, he sucker punches Humbaba, he sneaks up behind him and punches him in his head.

Gilgamesh and enkidu go to repay thier respects to Enlil, … After they had kissed the ground before Enlil, they threw the leather bag down, tipped out his head (Humbabas’)
and placed it before Enlil. When Enlil saw the head of Humbaba, he was angry. “Why did you act this way? Was ist commanded that his name should be wiped from the earth?
He should have sat before you, he should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honoured….” From his seat,
Enlil assigned Humbabas heavenly auras to…

He gave Humbaba’s first aura to the fields.
He gave his second aura to the rivers.
He gave his third aura to the reed-beds.
He gave his fourth aura to the lions. He gave his fifth aura to the palace (debt slaves?)
He gave his sixth aura to the forests. ( the hills?)
He gave his seventh aura to Nungal (the goddess of prisoners).


The mother who bore me was a cave in the mountains.

Humbaba am i, defender of mountains!
Humbaba am i, protector of these forests!

Fern Prints

These prints were made with  heavy unsized paper, to which i applied a gelatin size, using the fern leaf for a stencil and then dyed the paper using green tea with various mordants. I later printed the fern leaves using a home made ink made of asphaltum, balsam and flaxseed oil. I really enjoy the stencil/overlay look to these, they remind me of fossils,  which goes well with the whole carboniferous asphaltum idea.

fern5_opt fern4_opt

These, perhaps, i am looking for a more eastern look, the print on the left, entitled fern5, is printed on some nice silky gampi paper, and the flaxseed oil has bled around the edges, staining the paper. I glued the gampi to a heavier stock with the jin shofu — wheat paste — i made myself from flour and water. The process, part of the printmaking technique called chine colle, is simple, you take some white flour and make a dough with water, keep adding water until the dough is submerged and keep kneading it. The starch separates out into the water and the wheat gluten, or what is left, stringifies and lumpifies into a glutenous blob. You let the starch settle, pour off the water, let it dry, and then make your paste by adding water and applying gentle heat, stirring constantly until the mix turns clear. I strain it thru some silk and apply with a brush.

wheat gluten

Yummy gluten!

Supposedly this is the same gluten that you can buy in the fancy health food stores and shi-shi new age restaurants. I didn’t try it.

Perhaps the next time i will document more than just the gummy lump of gluten.

There is a pretty good book describing the whole chine colle process, Chine Colle: A Printer’s Handbook. Shure, Brian (2000). San Francisco; Crown Point Press ISBN 978-1-891300-15-8

I got it out from the NY Public Library.