Ērān ud Anērān
Webfestschrift Marshak 2003


On the Bugut Inscription and Mausoleum Complex

Dr. Cengiz Alyilmaz*

The Bugut inscription is one of the old Turkic inscriptions found in Mongolia. It drives its name from the Bugut1 Mountain located in the Bayn Tsagaan Gol (The Sacred White Lake) region within the Arhangay Aymag and is one of the Turkic cultural and civic monuments among others in the mausoleum complex which dates back to the First Köktürk Kaganate and constructed on the valley 10 km away from the Bugut Mountain in the East.

Its location was discovered by a Mongolian scholar Ts. DORJSÜREN and on the inscription in recent years many scholars have published research papers, analises, and reviews2. These studies prove that it belongs to the First Köktürk Kaganate period, and on three sides of it there are Sogdian texts in Sogdian letters and on the forth side there is a Sanskrit text in Brahmi letters.

These texts are basically on "the order of the Turk/Bilge Kagan Nivar to erect a monument on the death of Mahan Tigin", "the joint reign of Mahan Tigin and Muhan Kagan", "the ascend of Mahan Tigin to the throne", "the joint reign of Mahan Tigin and Tatpar Kagan (Taspar kagan)"3, and so on, what happened during the years 572-580 AD.

Besides these historical events, there is also a great deal of valuable information on the social structure and the function of the Turkic state (kagan and his relatives, şadapıts, tarkans, kurkapıns, sengüns, tuduns, cavaliers, and people); life style, beliefs, values, relations with other nations and groups, and tolerance of the Turkic nation. Among these informations, it is interesting to note that Turk Kagans who see themselves as "the representatives of God on earth" and "world savers" express their trust and gratitutes to God, to their ancestors, and their ancestors' souls4.

This Bugut Inscription is a didactic text and a narrator of the historical events. With these features it also set the example for the later Turkic inscriptions. From top to the bottom with its turtle like base it has the hight of 2.45 m. On the front of the top part (the entire right side has been ruined) the figure of a child breast-fed by a wolf was inscribed (see photos 1 and 2).

It is due to the fact that this monument is situated on a turtle-like base that Kol Tigin, Bilge Kagan, Taryat, Tes, Sine Us, and many other inscriptions were also erected on a turtle-like base, and also the same figure of a child breast-fed by a wolf, though in different forms, is found on the top of Kol Tigin and Bilge Kagan inscriptions. In contrast to the inscriptions erected later on there does not exist any kind of seal (kagan seal or boy (tribe) seal) on this Bugut inscription.

The Bugut inscription inherited from Turk kagans of the Ashina family, with its turtle-like base was moved from the mausoleum complex and replaced in the garden of the museum at the city center Çeçerleg of Arhangay Aymag by a Mongolian scholar Ts. DORJSÜREN in 1956. After this replacement many studies on the shape and the text of the monument have been done. However, after having been replaced at the museum, the Bugut mausoleum complex and the master pieces of the Turkic culture and civilization in the complex lost their importance.

After Ts. DORJSÜREN, other studies done by different scholars and scholarly groups such as S. G. KLYAŞTORNIY, V. A. LİVŞİTS, V. Ye. VOYTOY, and Mongolian-Japanese research group led by Takao MORIYASU-Ayudai OCHIR, were only "drilling excavations" and, therefore, were only surface studies. In fact just like other mausoleum complexes being products of the Turkic life styles and believes, the Bugut mausoleum complex contains many master pieces of Turkic culture and civilization and also historical information (see photo 3).

We believe that it is necessary to disclose the materials and information gained during our works in the years of 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001, with some suggestions.

1. The complex of the Bugut mausoleum complex was constructed on the plain, westward 10 km. away from Bugut Mountain in the region of the Bayn Tsagaan Gol (Sacred White Lake), Arhangay Aymag. As a result of our expeditions on the mausoleum complex we found out that this region was considered by the Turks as one of the sacred places not only during the period prior to the Köktürk but also during and after the Köktürks.

It's because the findings like kurgans, complexes of mausoleums (see photo 4, 5),5 stones with deers and seals (see photo 6),6 and figures on the rocks (petroglives) (see photo 7)7 dating back to the periods of Sahas, Huns, Avars, Köktürk, and Uygurs clearly prove that many Turkic tribes in the history used this region as "mausoleum complex" and "the place of worshipping to God and Ancestors".

The location of the Bugut mausoleum complex at the same time was forming the conjuction of the highways of that time. Following the road starting from north 30 km. down in the south passing this geography brings us to the Hoyd Tamir (Tayhir Culuu) inscriptions8. For those scholars and administers who have an interest in the subject should soon act to preserve this historical complex.

2. The Bugut mausoleum complex shows many similarities with the later mausoleum complexes. This complex hosts, aside a number of inscriptions, bark, altar stone, and balbals. However, so far as the inscription was taken out of its original place and replaced at the museum; the altar stone was broken into the pieces; bark turned into ruins; stones, bricks and clay-pipes from the walls and base of barks spreaded all over the place; balbals fell around9.

The Bugut mausoleum complex turned into ruins. In this process a long period of time since the erection and during the time period after the excavations of Ts. DORJSÜREN and V. Ye. VOYTOY have played a great role because not a single measurement has been taken to protect. A method of drilling must have been applied during these excavation. Therefore clay-pipes, bricks, basement, and a number of artistic pieces were also ruined (see photo 8 and 9). With a broad scientific excavation work not only these mausoleum complexes (starting with the Bugut) but also master pieces of Turkic culture and civilization left to annihilation in these complexes will be taken under protection.

3. The Bugut inscription and its turtle-like base are exhibited in the garden of Çeçerleg museum. This open-air exhibition has caused abrasion, corrosion, flakes, and falls on all four sides of the inscription. Almost all the written surfaces of the inscription lost their origional appearences (see photos 10). Therefore, it is necessary to move it inside and begin doing restoration and conservation. During the process of restoration and conservation pieces from the inscription and from the figure of a child breast-fed by a wolf on the top of the inscription should immedetely be replaced10.

These pieces were found by V. A. LİVŞİTS in 1970 during the surface studies at the Bugut mausoleum complex and placed in the Çeçerleg museum, but their original places could not be figured out at that time. With the great help of a Mongolian scholar Dr. Tsendiyn BATTULGA we found their places and situated the inscription with other pieces in the museum. With an easy access in recent years Mongolian-Japanese and Mongolian-German scientific groups have worked on the inscription and its pieces. The pieces which connect the inscription's east and north faces and having a figure of a child breast-fed by a wolf due to their protection inside are in a better condition than the inscription itself (see photo 11)11.

4. The Old Turkic Inscriptions are very important due to the fact that they have brought up to date valuable informations about languages, history, literatures, life styles, believes, perspectives, and esthetics of the Turks. These inscriptions are valuable not only for the Turks but also others with whom the Turks in history had close ties in social, cultural, religious, political, economics, and military affairs. The Sogd (sogdak bodun) is one the nations to have had very close relations in the history. The Bugut inscription shows how close the Turks and the Sogds indicating that the Turks used Sogdian language and alphabet at the court. Moreover, the inscriptions from the periods of Köktürk and Uygur (Köl Tigin, Bilge Kagan, Bilge Tonyukuk, and Moyun Çor inscriptions) mention Sogdians; each inscription has Sogdian text with Sogdian letters on one face (Karabalgasun III, Somon Sevrey); during the Uygur period (Kök)Turk alphabet was deserted and Uygur alphabet with a Sogdian origin was accepted12.

All these facts indicate the level of affairs between the Turks and the Sogdians13 Many times back in history they lived nearby. However, this period and their relations have yet to be studied and scholars who are eligible to study knowing Turkic and Sogdian languages have yet to come out. Therefore, today we are facing many problems in reading and comprehending the Turkic inscriptions in Sogdian language, starting with the Bugut inscription. To bring out these inscriptions which will shed light upon the history of these neighboring and relative nations it is necessary for the universities and institutions to teach graduate students the Old Turkic (Köktürk, Uygur, Karahanli) and along with the old Turkic alphabet, Sogdian language and alphabet, Chinese, Sanskrit language and alphabet, and Tibetian language and alphabet.


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BAZIN, Louis, "Turcs et Sogdiens: Les Enseignements de L'Inscription de Bugut (Mongolie), Mélanges Linguistiques Offerts à Émile Benveniste", Collection Linguistique, publiée par la Société de Linguistique de Paris, LXX, Paris, 1975, pp. 37-45.

Emel ESİN, "M. V-VII nci Asırlardan Târihî ve Arkeolojik Malzeme Işığında Taspar Kağan'ın (M. 572-81) Kültür Çevresi", Türk Kültürü Araştırmaları, XXIII/1-2, Ankara, 1985, pp. 230-243.

DAŞNYAM, Luvsandambın,-OCHIR, Ayuday, etc., Mongol Nutag Dah' Tuuh Soyelın Dursgal, Ulaanbaatar, 1999.

GÖMEÇ, Saadettin, Kök Türk Tarihi, Ankara, 1999.

KLYAŞTORNIY, Sergey G.-LİVŞİTS Viladimir A., "Sogdiyskaya Nadpis' iz Buguta," Stranı i Narodı Vostoka, X, Moskova, 1971, pp. 121-146.

MARŞAK, Boris I., "Türkler ve Soğdlular," transleted by. Alesker ALESKEROV. Türkler, v. II, Ankara, 2002, pp. 170-178,

MORI, Masao, "A New Material on the Sogdians in the Tu-chüeh Empire," Shigaku–Zasshi, LXXXI/2, February 1972, pp. 77-86.

MORIYASU, Takao-OCHIR, Ayuday, Provisional Report of Researches on Historical Sites and Inscriptions in Mongolia from 1996 to 1998, Tokyo, 1999.

OSAWA, Takashi, Moğolistan'daki Eski Türk Anıt ve Yazıtları Üzerine Yeni Araştırmalar (1) 1996-1998 Japon-Moğol Ortak Çalışmasının Ön Raporu, İstanbul-Berlin, 2000.

OSAWA, Takashi, "Moğolistan'daki Eski Türk Anıt ve Yazıtlarının 1996-1998 Yılları Arasındaki Yeni İnceleme Sonuçları (Japon-Moğol Ortak Çalışmasının Ön Raporu Olarak)," TDAY Belleten 2000, Ankara, 2001, pp. 277-286

OSAWA, Takashi, "Batı Göktürk Kağanlığı'ndaki Aşinaslı Bir Kağan'ın Şeceresine Ait Bir Kaynak," Türkler, v. II, Ankara, 2002, pp. 79-88.

ÖZÖNDER-BARUTÇU, F. Sema, "Türk"ler Ne Zaman Bir "Millet" İdi? I. Ortak Bir Köken Mitleri Vardı: Bir "Dişi-kurt"tan Türemişlerdi," KÖK Araştırmalar, v. I, no. 2, Ankara, 1999, pp. 65- 92.

ÖZÖNDER-BARUTÇU, F. Sema, "Eski Türklerde Dil ve Edebiyat," Türkler, v. 3, Ankara, 2002, pp. 481-501.

PRİTSAK, Omeljan, "The Old Turkic Title "ywry'p'ynt", Studia Turcologica, Memoriae Alexii Bombaci Dicata, Napoli, 1982, p. 403-406.

RINTCHEN, Emgetgev, Les Dessigns Pictographiques et Les Inscriptions Sur Les Rochers Et Sur Les Steles En Mongolie, Ulaanbaatar, 1968.

ROUXS, Jean Paul, "Les Inscriptions de Bugut et de Tariyat sur la religion des Turcs," Studia Turcologica, Memoriae Alexii Bombaci Dicata, Napoli, 1982, s. 451-461.

SERTKAYA, Osman Fikri, Göktürk Tarihinin Meseleleri, Ankara, 1995.

SERTKAYA, Osman Fikri – ALYILMAZ, Cengiz – BATTULGA, Tsendiyn, Moğolistandaki Türk Anıtları Projesi Albümü, Ankara, 2001.

TAŞAĞIL, Ahmet, Gök-Türkler, v. I, Ankara, 1995; v. II, Ankara, 1999.

TAŞAĞIL, Ahmet, "İslam Öncesi Devrede Orta Asya'da Yaşayan Türk Boyları," Türkler, v. II, Ankara, 2002, pp. 323-367.

VOYTOV, V. Ye., Drevnetyurkskiy Panteon i Model' Mirozdaniya v Kul'tovo-Pominal'nıh Pamyatnikah Mongolii VI-VIII vv, Moscow, 1996.


*Ataturk University, Kazim Karabekir Teachers' College, Turkish Department, Erzurum / Turkey.

1 The word bugut is constructed by the word buku/bugu (deer) and /+t/ plural ending, indicating "deers". In the past as well as today deer live in the mountains westward 10 km away from the Bugut memorial grave complex. This indicates that "deers" among the Turks have been throughout the history the indicator of "mother," "abundance," "wealth," "state", "eternity," and "happiness." Therefore the mountain and the complex as Bugut. In addition, the word Bugu(t) is also used as a name for a group of Turkic people who lived in the north of Tuul (Tola) River. For further information on this Bugu(t) tribe see TAŞAĞIL, Ahmet, Gök-Türkler, v. I, Ankara, 1995; v. II, Ankara, 1999, pp. 41-42; TAŞAĞIL, Ahmet, "İslam Öncesi Devrede Orta Asya'da Yaşayan Türk Boyları," Türkler, v. II, Ankara: Yeni Turkiye Yayinlari, 2002, pp. 323-367.

2 G. MENES, RINCHEN, S. G. KLYAŞTORNIY-V. A. LİVŞİTS, Masao MORI, Louis BAZIN, Jean Paul ROUX, Saadet ÇAĞATAY-Semih TEZCAN, Emine GÜRSOY-NASKALİ, V. Ye. VOYTOV, Takao MORIYASU-Toshio HAYASHI, Yutaka YOSHIDA, Takashi OSAWA, Talat TEKİN, Sema BARUTÇU-ÖZÖNDER, Osman Fikri SERTKAYA-Cengiz ALYILMAZ-Tsendiyn BATTULGA and other scholars published papers and reviews. See "Bibliography" section.

3 Until 1997 works on the Bugut inscription read this word as "Taspar." But Japanese scholar Prof. Yutaka YOSHIDA with his epigraphic notes read the word as "Tatpar." For further information see YOSHIDA, Yutaka-MORIYASU, Takao, Bugut Inscription, Provisional Report of Researches on Historical Complexes and Inscriptions in Mongolia from 1996 to 1998, Tokyo, 1999, pp. 122-124; OSAWA, Takashi, "Moğolistan'daki Eski Türk Anıt ve Yazıtlarının 1996-1998 Yılları Arasındaki Yeni İnceleme Sonuçları (Japon-Moğol Ortak Çalışmasının Ön Raporu Olarak)," TDAY Belleten 2000, Ankara, 2001, pp. 277-286.

4 For the text and the translation of the Bugut inscription see ÇAĞATAY, Saadet-TEZCAN, Semih, "Tanıtmalar: Köktürk Tarihinin Çok Önemli Bir Belgesi Soğtça Bugut Yazıtı," TDAY Belleten 1975-1976, Ankara, 1976, pp. 245- 252; KLYAŞTORNIY, Sergey G.-LİVŞİTS Viladimir A., "Buguttaki Sogtça Kitabeye Yeni bir Bakış," TDAY Belleten 1987, Ankara, 1992, pp. 201-241, translated by Emine GÜRSOY-NASKALİ (Emine GÜRSOY-NASKALİ also gives some notes on other studies about the Bugut inscription.); YOSHIDA, Yutaka-MORIYASU, Takao, Bugut Inscription, Provisional Report of Researches on Historical Complexes and Inscriptions in Mongolia from 1996 to 1998, Tokyo, 1999, pp. 122-124.

5 The same as the memorial grave complexes in the Höröögiyn Amnı Hoit Höndii region (1554 m, 47 T 0675687, UTM 5291782) and kurgans in the Gindiyn Bulak region (1556 m, 47 T 0677772, UTM 5291680).

6 The same as the stone with the seals and deers on dating back to the Saha period and located in the south of the Bugut memorial grave complex (1613 m, 47 T 0670833, UTM 5298849) and in the Gindiyn Bulak region (1556 m, 47 T 0677772, UTM 5291680; 1546 m, 47 T 0678863, UTM 529 2259).

7 The same as the petroglives (figures on the rocks) on the rocks of Höröögiyn Üzüüriyn Had/Höröögiyn Üzüüriyn (1555 m, 47 T 0676590, UTM 5289478.

8 (1596 m, 47 T 0669407, UTM 5274337)

9 There are 232 balbals in the Bugut memorial grave complex. After the balbal 101, others are again going towards the north making a slight curve.

10 The lenght of the two pieces found by V. A. LİVŞİTS during the surface studies in and replaced in Çeçerleg Museum, is 60 cm. As a result of our works on the inscription we found out that there is a missing 60 cm-long piece and the lenght of the pieces which connect the east and the north sides is 1.20 m. These missing parts belong to the top of the pieces found by V. A. LİVŞİTS. We believe that these missing parts will also come out soon.

11 I would like to thank Dr. Tsendiyn BATTULGA and Civil Engineer Dr. Murat YAKAR for their valuable helps during my works on these parts of the inscription.

12 See "Foreign Relations and Cooperation of The Institute of History, Mongolian Academy of Sciences," NOMADIC IISNC (International Institute for The Study of Nomadic Civilizations), No: 18, Ulaanbaatar, 2001, p. 4.

13 For details see TEKİN, Talat, Soğd ve Uygur Alfabesiyle Türkçe, Tarih Boyunca Türkçenin Yazımı, Ankara, 1997, pp. 41-50.

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Actualizado el 24/07/2004

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