The image of Umai in Altai and Tatar ornaments

Alsu Shamsutova

The image of Umai in Altai and Tatar ornaments

(66th Annual Meeting of the PIAC Göttingen, 2024)

Goal. The aim of this paper is to prove and illustrate that the spiritual and cultural heritage of the two Turkic peoples, created by a huge number of generations and fixed in ornaments is similar.

Design/methodology/approach. In this article, we can explore the origin of the “Umai” image and its reflection in Altai and Tatar ornaments. We conduct our research based on the research on the turkological studies of famous turkologists, historians and our own researches. We will also look at how a similar image of “Umai” was preserved and transformed in the ornaments of other Turkic peoples.

The received data. Studyings of the artistic embodiment of the image of “Umai” in ornaments give us interesting results. We have identified the origin of the concept of “Umai”. There is a belief in Altai that “Umai covers the Altai Mountains with its snow-white caring wings.” The Tatars also have a belief that Umai-Ana protects the fate of a person. It was also found that the image of “Umai”, often used in Turkic carpets, towels, costumes, in the interior of the house, shows similarities with the image of the “dragon” (“winged serpent”), spread among the peoples of Eurasia. A drawing similar to “Umai”, made more than 2000 years ago, was discovered by us in 2021 on the walls of a cave temple in Ihlara Vadisi in Turkey. These data give us an opportunity to explain the function of the image of ‘Umai’ among ancient peoples.

Originality/value. Based on these researches we can establish the historical and cultural-mythological connection between the two Turkic peoples – Altai and the Tatars of the Volga region. The faith of Tatars and Altaians in the power of Umai helped them cope with fears, find strength for survival, believe in the well-being and prosperity of their kind.

Keywords: image of Umai, Tatar ornaments, Altai ornaments, Turkic ornaments, Tatars