Tree, Kut and State in Turkish Mythic Thought

Fatma Ahsen Turan

Tree, Kut and State in Turkish Mythic Thought

(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)

Tree is among the common cults in the culture of various nations. The symbolic meanings assigned to trees are rich and miscellaneous. The most important function of the tree is its representing cosmos, that is order. On the other hand, the tree is the symbol of fertility, reproduction, aliveness, the source of life, immortality, chance, fruitfulness, health, the road of trans going to God, being the axis of the world and providing communication between underground-earth and sky.

The tree welcomes us as the symbol of kut, state and power in Turkish culture besides its bearing above-mentioned missions in different periods of Turkish history since the periods of legends.

One of the narratives of Uyghur Turks concerning the cult of tree is the one about Bogu Khan in Cuveyni’s work titled “Tarih-i Cihan Guşa”. Bogu Khan, the Khan of Uighurs, and his brothers were born from the tree in this narrative, which is about the derivation of Uighurs. Bogu Khan was sent as ruler, selected by God, protector and guide showing the right way by means of this holy tree. The holy tree of the legend is the backbone of society, nation that would begin the life afresh. The tree is the symbol of Khan, power and government.

In the Oğuzname by Reşideddin, “three big tree trunks, originating from the belly of Tugrul’s father in the dream seen by him, grow and cast shadow on everywhere, and then reaches the sky. The tree motif in this dream indicates that a great and successful khan would originate from the society.”

The narratives of tree have sameness and continuity in Turkish mythology and history. Curcanî mentions a dream seen by Sebüktegin, the father of Ghaznavid Mahmud, before the birth of Mahmud. Sebüktegin saw in his dream that a tree originated from the oven at his home and cast shadow on the whole world. This dream was interpreted that “he would have a son performing conquests”.

In the dream of Osman Gazi in Âşikpaşazâde, a tree originates from the belly of Osman Gazi when a moon gets into his breast. The shadow of this tree spreads to the world. Edebali interprets the dream as Allah’s granting sultanate to Osman Gazi and his descent. Moon, tree and kut in this dream, which is about the power and force of the Ottoman Empire, are the good news of state and power. This tree is the symbol of Ottoman domination.

In this paper, the relationship of tree, kut and state, taking part in the Islamic period narrative and belief from mythic period narratives, will be analyzed by being exemplified.