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The Old Turkish Belief: Tengrism

Tengri, also named as Empyreal God, is the belief system that was the most general in the central Asia between the Turks and Mongolians of the time. It’s a belief with a single God, one single creator and ruler of everything in the universe. The Blue Sky, the Kok Tengri, the Sky God; all different names but all referring to the same divine being of a pure and ancient belief. So, let’s take a dive in this belief that ruled for centuries over tens of communities throughout history.


As I mentioned before, the Tengri belief is monotheistical, meaning there’s only one divine and all-encompassing being that is being believed in. This god, Tengri, changes the weather according to its wanting, controls every celestial happening, sets the climates and bends the sacred blue sky to its wish; which is what it was mostly believed as. While almost all of the other religions spread out over the world personify their Gods, making them into strong and perfect shaped people in their statutes and paintings and descriptions in their religious texts and prayers, or at the very least thinking of them as these all powerful human-like beings; the Tengri was seen as the blue sky itself, being described to be timeless and endless. Despite being said to have two sons, this god was not human and wasn’t compared to one. It had no alikes, no need for any aiding and no spouses. It was simply one as the sky, endlessly divine.


Tengri was the creator of the Earth and the keeper of peace, and the Turks believed that by not disturbing this peace and being in harmony with the nature spirits they named Tins, they could be strong and blessed. In case of this peace being disturbed they asked for forgiveness from their God by giving sacrifices and believed it to be the one to help resolve their conflict, and expected their sacrifices to put the order back in place. It’s worth noting that the Turks of the time were living a nomadic lifestyle that was mostly based on the nature and its state to thrive, and the serenity of the earth itself was important in shaping their beliefs and acts, which we clearly see happen when we look into Tengrism.


In the old Turkish communities, the power of their Ruler was also believed to be given by the Tengri, tens of old stories being told about how their bloodline was blessed by no other than their God. They told stories about these wolves that the Tengri sent (wolves being seen as one the blessed animals by Turks), and their blood being mixed with the one of their rulers’, thus giving them the divine right to their own people and to ruling. The Turkish rulers were seen as sacred and the right to rule was believed to be passed with blood, kept in the same family for decades and even centuries. These rulers were thought of as these demi-god sons of Tengri, sent by it to roam the earth and rule. They based their power, success and the right to invasion of land to their God, and called themselves names like tengrikut, kutluġ or kutalmys, all with meanings based around their divinity from God.


Old Turks started their decrees by saying “With the wish of the endless Sky…”, and they gave sacrifices of pure milk and meat to their Gods when they moved to new steppes as the seasons changed. They wished for order in and help from nature, and wrote about their God in epitaphs. Their belief that the blue sky was the god itself kept on for centuries and their prayers and doings from them still have their effects on the daily lives of Turks living today.

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