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Sirrush (Mušḫuššu): the Babylonian Dragon

sirrush mushussu babylonian dragon

The Ultimate Guide of Sirrush (Mušḫuššu)

The Sirrush, also known as Mušḫuššu, is a dragon in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology. Sirrush is one of three guardians who watch over the Processional Way and the Gate of Ishtar in northern Babylon. The other two guardians are the lion ? and the bull. ?

These animals embody several levels of meaning, but are associated with specific deities and all possess apotropaic qualities. They were traditionally used as figures placed at the entrances to Mesopotamian temples and palaces. As a result, the Sirrush, the Lion and the Bull emphasize the importance of the inevitable passage to the symbolic heart of the city.

In this article, we will focus on the Sirrush. This one being the only mythological animal among the three, we do not know if it really existed. But before that, you too should take a lucky relic with you. Discover by clicking on the image below our marvelous collection of Dragon Necklaces for men and women. They exude a fantastic and benevolent aura.

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Sirrush: the Origin

The beast comes from Babylon, where it can be seen, among others, at the famous Gate of Ishtar. It is often called Sirrush, but it turns out that the etymology of the word derives from a mistranslated of Sumerian, and the appropriate word is Mušḫuššu. Indeed, although it is correctly transliterated mûš-ruššû, early researchers mistakenly read it as sîr-ruššû. This interpretation is the most common today.

sirrush origin

Sirrush is an ancient creature that originated in ancient Mesopotamia. Among the most famous structures that Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) erected in Babylon are the Gate of Ishtar ? and the walls that line the so-called Processional Way. They were decorated with images of three very significant animals: the lion, the bull, and the mythological dragon Sirrush.

Sirrush: the Physical Description

Sirrush is a monstrous creature with the head and body of a snake. Its front legs are those of a feline, and its hind legs look like the claws of an eagle. Some Sirrush have hairy bodies, but most have scales. Its tail ends in a poisonous sting. It also has a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake tongue and a crest.

sirrush physical description

The most popular representation of Sirrush is probably the one found at the gates of Ishtar (Pergamon Museum of Berlin). But there are a multitude of other representations, each with several variations. On the Gate of Ishtar, Sirrush stands majestically, imposing and inflexible. Proud, the creature has its head and tail raised. Sirrush is considered to be a type of dragon. ?

sirrush origin

The Legend of Sirrush

Sirrush was a Mesopotamian mythological creature that served as a protective guide. It was also a sacred animal associated with Marduk, Babylon’s principal deity. The beast was one of eleven monsters fashioned by Tiamat to fight the deities and avenge the death of Apsu. In Sumerian, Sirrush means “red snake” or “angry snake.


It was said of Sirrush, that he repelled the enemies by attacking and expelling them with his deadly poison. No one escapes the creature, whose purpose was to prevent any evildoer from entering the city of Babylon. Certain ritual texts approve of this apotropaic role. Nebuchadnezzar II paid homage to the Babylonian deities through the animal representations:

?The Sirrush symbolizes Marduk, the greatest polite god of Babylon. ?
?The Lion symbolizes Ishtar, the Goddess of love ❤ and war. ⚔
?The Bull symbolizes Adad, the God of Storm. ?️
The sculpted reliefs of lions, bulls, and dragons representing powerful deities sent a strong message to all who entered the Great Gate that Babylon was protected and defended by the gods, and that it would be wise not to oppose them.

origin sirrush

Finally, the Dragon Sirrush is a symbolic representation of Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon. The original character of Marduk is obscure, but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. According to ancient mythology, Marduk defeated Tiamat, a monster of chaos and a primordial ocean goddess who mated with Abzu (the god of fresh water) to beget younger gods.

Stories and Beliefs Around Sirrush

Sirrush was a servant of the gods. It was believed that this creature lived in the palaces of Babylon until it died at the hands of the biblical prophet Daniel. The story goes that the Babylonian priests took Daniel to the temple of Bel (the god of Nebuchadnezzar) and showed him a great dragon that many believe to be the Mušḫuššu. Seeing the creature, they challenged him to confront his invisible god (Yahweh) with their living god. It was when Daniel poisoned the Sirrush that it finally came to an end.

The presence of the snake-dragon has been the subject of much debate among researchers who have pointed out that this mythical animal did not belong next to the sculptures representing known animals (lions and bulls) that were from the same period as the Babylonians.

wings sirrush

Robert Koldewey (German archaeologist), who discovered the Gate of Ishtar, seriously considered the idea that the Sirrush was a representation of a real animal. He argued that its representation in Babylonian art has been constant for many centuries, while that of mythological creatures has changed, sometimes dramatically, over the years. In 1918, he proposed that the Iguanodon (a dinosaur with the hind legs of a bird) was the closest representation to the Sirrush. ?

Appropriate the Power of a Dragon

Sirrush, the Dragon of Babylon has no more secrets from you. We have just retraced the history and origins of one of the famous guardians of ancient Mesopotamia. You now know that he is a protective guide who re-founds the evil spirits at the gate of Ishtar.

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