Tengrism in the life of Turkic Peoples

Nurila Shaimerdinova

Tengrism in the life of Turkic Peoples

(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)

Tengrism, which arose in ancient times on the basis of myths and is reflected in written monuments, occupies a special place in the religion of the Turkic peoples. The myths of the nomads are classified as cosmogonic, godlike, socio-ethnological and genealogical. In the divine myths surrounding consists of three worlds: upper, middle, lower. The upper world is the seat of the Supreme deities Tengri and Umai . The middle world “Earth-Water” ( ) is personified with the earth, where all living things live. The lower world is associated with the underworld of the dead. In runic monuments the image of Täŋri is anthropocentric: it determines the time of life, enthrones rulers, helps in campaigns.

In the “Irig bitig” monument Tengri is depicted as a God-messenger. In the Tibetan manuscript called “Catalogue of principalities”, mentioned “God of the Turks” Yol-Tengri. In this time the word “Tengri” could mean deity in General, as it is fixed in the later folklore of the Buryats, the myths of which tell about 55 “Western” and 44 “Eastern” Tengri.

Despite the fact that Islam penetrated into Central Asia in the 10th century, the belief in Tengri among the Turkic peoples is preserved in the Karakhanid, Kipchak era, in the late middle ages, which is reflected in the monument of “Divani it-Turks” by M.Kashgari, Codex Cumanicus, Armenian-Kipchak monuments of the XIV–XVII centuries. In these monuments Tengri is endowed with only godlike meaning without anthropomorphic characteristics.

To date, in the religious consciousness of the Turkic peoples, Tengrism coexists with Islam, as evidenced by the religious rituals of the Kazakhs and other Turkic peoples: the worship of the spirits of ancestors, holding memorial aces, the installation of monuments depicting the personality of the deceased, baking funeral griddle cakes.