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Galla are the seven demons who guard Ereshkigal, the goddess of death and gloom in Kur, the Sumerian underworld.


Legend

Ereshkigal sat naked on a throne in her dark lapis lazuli palace, surrounded by seven great walls. The central rule of the Sumerian hell stated that no one, neither a mortal nor a god, who entered her dark domain, could ever leave Kur again. To this the Galla were an exception, for they could roam the world to relentlessly terrorize men and haul them back to the dark abode. Gods and humans alike, on earth or in hell, needed food and drink. But not the Galla who, to quote an ancient Sumerian poem:

'Touched no food,
Drank no water,
Did not taste the sprinkled flour,
Did not know the sacred wine.
No bribe mollified the Galla,
Nor did they satisfy a woman's body
But hated children
And tore them from their parents' lap.'

The goddess, Innana, having failed in her attempt to over throw her sister, Ereshkigal, who had imprisoned her in Kur, managed to escape from the underworld. But the seven Galla followed, threatening to drag her back if she could not find another deity to take her place. When Innana found the shepherd Dumuzi, her lover, celebrating instead of mourning her departure, she cast the eye of death on him. He was delivered into the demons' hands:

'The seven demons grip his thighs,
They bite and tear his face,
They slash at his body with an axe,
They turn his face into the face
Of agony.'