Carpets from Turkmenistan


THE TURKMEN

The resulting struggle between father and son saw Oghuz Khan emerge as victor. He became ruler of the Oghuz people and conquered the entire known world: his reign stretched as far as the Land of Darkness. (16)

Oghuz Khan had six sons. They went by the names of Kun Khan (Khan stands for "prince" and Kun means "sun"), Ay Khan (Prince of the Moon), Yulduz Khan (Prince of the Star), Kuk Khan (Prince of the Sky), Tak Khan (Prince of the Mountain) and Tingiz Khan (Prince of the Sea)(18).

One day Oghuzís sons went on a hunt and found a golden bow and three arrows. They talked to their father and asked him to justly divide the items between the six of them. He gave the bow as a whole to the three elder sons, who were ranked higher and were to protect his right flank, receiving the name Bozuk (which stands for "to divide in order to distribute")(20).

Each of the three younger brothers was given a golden arrow and instructed they were to protect Oghuzís left flank. He called them Och-Uk (Och means "three" and Uk means "arrow," so they were called "Three Arrows").

After living for a thousand years, Oghuz died(21) and, following his orders, the oldest son Kun Khan succeeded him.

Kun Khan and his brothers each had four sons. In order to prevent dispute and establish proper cattle ownership, Kun Khan took the advice of his fatherís confidant, Ikit Irkil Khowja, and handed to each of the sons one Tamgha (insignia or brand). He assigned an animal to each of his five brothers and their four sons; these were meant to function as Onghun (totem or protective spirits). The word "Oneghun" derives from "Inag Bolsun" and means: "It has been blessed". (22)

In addition, every grandson was given one piece of meat; Rashid al-Dinís writings mention this tradition as well.

Here is the list of the brothers, who were called Bozuk and made up the right flank or side of Oghuz Khanís army. They included the following which are listed below with the meaning for each name and the associated Tamgha (mark or branding sign) and the Oneghun (totem animal):

  1. The sons of Kun Khan
    1. Kai (mighty); (23) Falcon
    2. Bayat (contented); Falcon
    3. Alkarauli (may he be fortunate and successful wherever he goes); Falcon
    4. Kara-iwli (he is best fit for the position of sentry); Falcon
  2. The sons of Ay Khan:
    1. Yazir (may he traverse the many lands and enter newfound territory); Eagle
    2. Dukar(unknown); Eagle
    3. Dudurgeh (conquer empires and administer justice); Eagle
    4. Yapurli (unknown); Eagle
  3. The sons of Juduz Khan:
    1. Awschar (a clever trader and a passionate hunter); Golden Eagle
    2. Kizik (strong in law and battle); Golden Eagle
    3. Bigdeli (may he be honored like the words of the Great Ones); Golden Eagle
    4. Karkir (he who holds large feasts and satisfies the hunger); Golden Eagle

    The younger brothers below were called Uch Uk and they made up the left flank of Oghuz Khanís army:
  4. The sons of Kok Khan:
    1. Bayandur (may he live comfortably); Songhur(the Turkish name for a prayer bird)(24)
    2. Bitshene (who is very ambitious); Songhur
    3. Tshawuldur (may he always be full of energy, wage war and never lay idle); Songhur
    4. Chabni (may he never cease to fight foes, wherever they find him); Songhur
  5. The sons of Tak Khan:
    1. Salur (may he fight with sword and club wherever he goes); Uch-Kush (The name of another prayer bird in Turkish) (25)
    2. Imur (may he be a mighty warrior); Uch-Kush
    3. Ala-Yuntli (may his stock always be large in number and healthy); Uch-Kush
    4. Oraker (may he always accomplish great deeds); Uch-Kush
  6. The sons of Denkiz Khan
    1. Ikdur, Igdyr (of fine and noble character); Sparrow Hawk
    2. Bukduz (who must serve all with deference); Sparrow Hawk
    3. Yiweh (may his horses be larger than all others); Sparrow Hawk
    4. Kinik (may he be honored wherever he goes); Sparrow Hawk

In addition to these details Rashid al-Din also listed the select pieces of meat that were ceremonially allotted to each of the grandchildren of Oghuz Khan. For a long time, historians did not know what to make of this information but eventually it was discovered it was a custom of the Turkic people to hand the best piece of meat to the most notable and important guest of the festival (Toi).

Over time this custom(Toi) changed from being a matter of culinary indulgence into one of rank and hierarchy that lead to conflicts and much contention(26).

These myths show how social and politico-economic necessities determined the customs that ruled the lives of these Oghuz nomads, as well as their successors.

Here are some other ruling customs and traditions:

  1. Watering holes and pasture grounds were crucially important to the lives of the tribe members because they ensured the survival of livestock, which in return secured and sustained all human life. The constant readiness for military conflict became a major life-task.
  2. Apparently these conflicts consistently involved the local population, which often felt harried and threatened by the nomadic tribes and subsequently moved against them in battle.
  3. Skirmishes among the nomads were hardly any less infrequent: they fought each other as much as they warred with these sedentary groups. Hence their myths took on a very militaristic character and Tthe mechanisms established by these myths regulated the following customs at the least:
    1. the brands (Tamgha) were meant to secure property of cattle
    2. the assigning of pieces of meat was intended to prevent strife caused by differences in rank
    3. this culture of totems was to produce a sphere that:
      • guarded humans and their existence (that is, their stock)
      • create unity between individuals by providing them with equal protection
      • formed cohesion through these elements, totem symbols and brands in order to create and solidify bonds of solidarity

Tribal hierarchy and strict adherence to the customs and habits of the clan were the basis for the cohabitation of a people(Turkmen) for whom freedom, liberality and independence were the highest values. These ideals ranked immeasurably higher than political power and influence. The Turkmen abhorred solid houses, sedentariness and wastefulness.

    FOOTNOTES