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Monday, 25 June 2018 12:00

Zoomorphic monuments of the Türks-Oguzes

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Zoomorphic monuments of the Türks-Oguzes photo: Sabit Djodjulu

About Turkic culture, to which our people belong can be spoken endlessly. The customs, rituals, cultural values, the memory of the great sons and daughters of the Turkic world and many other things that have come down to us delight with their wealth and grandeur.

    The purpose of this article is to pay attention to one of the important components of the Turkic culture - zoomorphic monuments left (possibly) by Türks-Oguzes and found on the territory of both Azerbaijan and other states that were part of the Oguz tribes' settlement .. But more on that later ...

        The horse .... This animal in the ancient Türks personified the Sun, it was the national property that led to the formation of the cult of the horse. The images of horses in an earlier era can be seen in Gobustan, as well as the images of a horse and rider in the Gemigai area that date back to the 4th millennium  BC.  In a later era, they can be observed as monuments on tombs.  Azerbaijani archeologist Veli Aliyev in the city of Nakhichevan discovered the Turkic mound (4 thousand BC), in which two buried horses were found.  The tradition of horse sacrifice for a long time was widespread in the Turkic world.  In the early period, they were killed and put in the grave. This was mentioned by the Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan, who himself witnessed this ritual and described it with the words: "These are his horses, on which he will go to paradise."

   Dear N. I. Rzayev, notes that this custom was relevant for a large number of livestock. However, in particular, beginning from the 15th-16th centuries, in connection with numerous wars and a reduction in the number of livestock, live horses were replaced with stone statues.  A similar idea (perhaps) of the Türks-Oguzes began to spread in the territory of other countries of the East. Images, figures, ornaments were found: in Korea, Kazakhstan, Altai, Khakassia, Turkey, Georgia, etc.  Such rock paintings and available facts show us that the Horse was first tamed in the Turkic world. The kurgans first of all point to their ethnic origin, since they belong only to the culture of the Turkic peoples. No other peoples built burial mounds

        In addition to horses, the ancient Turkic peoples everywhere have images, monuments, embroidered ancient Türkic tamghas-ornaments of Gocha - Tours or horned Aries, with which the Türks adorned various products and which also towered over the graves of the deceased, particularly warriors or leaders.  Not infrequently, as an indicator of the tribal totem, to which the deceased belonged.  After all, Dash Goch, that is, a stone ram was one of the totems of the Oguz tribes.  Figures of Aries or Tours on the worldview of the ancient Türks gave the opportunity to the deceased to return from the other world of darkness to a new life, to the world of light.  The image of the ram had a very deep meaning from earliest times. This image is also related to 1 thousand BC, when Zoroastrianism flourished on the territory of Azerbaijan. The Ram was a symbol of the inviolability of power.  There were also multiple beliefs among the ancient Turks. For example, our dear ancestors believed that if you are in a herd of rams, then you are not afraid of evil spirits, sheep were considered patrons of the tribe. Particularly revered was a black sheep that was used in shamanic rituals, whose blood  watered the sick person.

    Sheep for Oguzes were a very valuable animal, which provided them with food, clothing and necessary accessories on the farm.  Gravestones in the form of sheep began to appear in the 12th and 13th centuries, and by the 15th century their number had increased, in connection with the formation of the powerful Turkic states - Gara Goyyonlu and Ag Goyyonlu. 

Sculptures of sheep, as well as horses, also occur in other territories of settlements of the Oguz tribes. For example, the Georgian archaeologist Manana Ivanovna Sinauridze notes that in the late Middle Ages similar, as in other countries, headstones of sheep and horses were especially common in Kvemo Kartli, Trialeti, Meskheti  .In Kvemo Kartli they occasionally occupy almost the whole cemetery.

Cattle breeding, in particular sheep breeding, was the main branch of the economy for the local population. Accordingly, the erection of tombstones  was one of the links of the chain of this powerful Türkic culture.  The burial places with sculptures of horses and rams are called "Oguz zyagasy", which means Oguz graves.  Zoomorphic monuments are a valuable heritage of the great Turkic people.  Bear in themselves a centuries-old memory of life, worldview and traditions carved into their outlines by the hands of the Turkic man ....


"Any ancient stone with a historical date, inscription or images is the petrified heart of a once living human creator, a creator-man who preserved in our fire and the flame of history our beautiful land, our history, which for centuries created a magnificent and beautiful soil for the development of science, culture  and art "(S.Vurgun)


The article is based on works and research: Fadlun Efendi, N.I Rzaev, Farid Alekperli, Veli Aliev and Manana Sinauridze.  We express our sincere gratitude!


Attached to the article are photographs from Azerbaijan, Georgia (Dmanisi), Turkey, the Altai Territory (Barnaul Museum) and Kazakhstan (Mangistau)


Research and photoes : Sabit Djodjulu

Author : Ina Babayeva

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