Turkish Mythology - Creation and Gods

Vedat Karaata
2 years ago

The source of all mythologies in the world is known as epics. Some of them are legends compiled from the public, while others are legends. Turkish mythology, as in other myths, derives its origin from epics.

However, it is observed that the identification of the people in Turkish epics with real people in history caused a general error that Turkish epics are not Mitos.

In order to give an explanation especially to this subject, the studies on what is and what is not mythology should be taken into consideration. According to the results of these studies; The legends of people we know in history are called saga.

Mythology is called the giving of human characteristics to natural beings, which are not mentioned in history, and which include great heroes. According to this statement, other Turkish epics such as the Epic of Creation of the Altai-Yakut Turks, the Epic of Huns Oguz, the Epic of the Gokturk, Ergenekon and Bozkurt are generally Turkish mythology.

Turkish mythology is composed of different myths that have not developed around a single myth like Greek Mythology, which is well known in the world. But in origin they are all similar legends. I want to tell you the most known of these myths today.

Turkish Mythology - Creation

Although there are many different Creation Myths, they are the most known and the greatest legends of the Altai Turks. Since the Altai Turks have been under Mongol rule for a long time, it can be thought that the Altaic Creation Legend has Mongolian influences; but there are no traces of the Mongolian religion, but the influence of Iranian culture is more visible.

The reason for this is that before the Göktürk era, there was Iranian influence among Turks and cultural relations with Iran. In addition, the influence of the Altaic Creation Epic is the religion of Manichaeism. But the most important influence on this is that it is fused with the old Central Asian customs and beliefs.

In Turkish mythology, the legend of the Altaic Creation has many different accounts. According to this myth, there are only two beings in the creation of the entire universe. These are god Ulgen and Erlik. In the epic, while the universe was nothing, the god Ulgen, the symbol of goodness, and Erlik, the symbol of evil, were flying.

turkish mythology

Turkish mythology

According to a different interpretation of the Altaic Epic of Creation, it was seen that Ülgen was not the great God himself. It is known that he was the creator of the entire universe in which Kayra Khan was before God Ulgen. Kayra Khan is located on the seventeenth floor of the sky. Based on this information, Ülgen is mentioned as one of the three great Gods in the sky. The power of creation was given to Ülgen by Mother Ana, a female spirit.

Ülgen and Erlik

If we go back to a different narrative, Ülgen, a God of goodness; live above the moon, sun and stars. He lives on the sixteenth floor of the sky. Ülgen, with its golden gated palace and golden throne, is often depicted as human. Ülgen has many adjectives.

In the prayers, expressions such as White Glossy, Bright Hakan, Noisy, Caustic, Lightning were told. The expression Şimşekçi may be reminiscent of Zeus from Greek Mythology. God Ulgen plays the leading role in the creation of man and the world. He created the heavens and the sun and the moon. He organizes atmospheric events and manages the stars. Ülgen has seven sons and nine daughters.

According to a different narrative of the same legend, Erlik, who was with Ülgen even before the existence of the universe, was created by Ülgen in some of them. But in all the epics in Turkish mythology, Erlik is the devil himself. Sometimes he sits in hell, sometimes on the fifth or ninth floor of the sky.

It is the permanent symbol of all kinds of evil. God is in constant opposition with Ulgen. He is depicted in iron, with a sword and shield, usually in the form of a man on the bull. Erlik has 9 sons and 9 daughters. After the adoption of Islam by the Turks, Erlik was mostly combined with beings such as Satan and Gin.

RELATED: Tradition of New Year and Pine Tree Decoration in Turkish Mythology

While the creation of the universe and the first gods developed in this way in the Altaic Creation epic, the myths of the other gods and goddesses were mixed with different legends and scattered.

Gods of Turkish Mythology

Generally known Turkish mythology is God, Goddesses and holy spirits; It is derived from the different narratives of Yenisey Inscriptions, Gokturk legends, Yakut Turks legends and Altai Creation legends. Some of these God-Goddesses and holy spirits are known as;

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Altai is the name of a soul that protects people according to the epic of Creation. It was created from parts of water, moon and sun. It protects people and lives among them.

He has eyes that look as good as an eagle. He is one of the souls that serve Ülgen. His job is to let people know that they can be in his life. The spirit called Karlık is considered to be the best friend of Suyla.


What appears with water is a soul that has the same task as it. It appears with smoke.


God is a holy spirit who takes the sacrifice offered to Ülgen, welcomes the shaman in the sky and delivers his wishes to Ülgen. He accompanies the shaman on his way. The name means that meets the genial.


It is one of the most powerful of the gods on earth. He lives in the center of the world where there is a pine that is thought to have reached the home of Ülgen. It is the protector of animals and nature. This god, believed to be sitting in large beech trees and wandering through the green areas in the form of a hurricane, was cried very sadly for the harm to nature.


Talay Kan is the ruler of the seas, the protector of the dead and the god of all the waters on earth. The house is located at the junction of seventeen seas. It corresponds to Poseidon in Greek mythology.


It is a mythological entity that is believed to protect children in Yakut Turks, giving birth to children and coming to the aid of newborn women. He goes to the milk lake in the sky and brings a drop of water and milk from that lake to the child's throat. This drop is the soul and soul of the child.

Thus, thanks to the power of this goddess, the child begins his life. It is believed that the pregnant woman comes down from the sky on the eve of childbirth and stops by her side to ease the birth pains of the pregnant woman. He is depicted with a swan bird and a white crane, which is a sacred color.


The information about the Goddess Umay comes from the Göktürk Inscriptions. There are various epics about Umay in Turkish mythology. It is similar to Ayızıt in the mythology of the Yakut Turks. She is portrayed in many places as a goddess who protects women, children and nature and makes the land fertile.

In the Anatolian Turks, it was believed that maternity women, also called “al board ası, were protected by Umay from his wife, who was believed to have kidnapped their children.

Although it is also referred to as Mother Nature, it is mostly expressed as Humay among Azeri Turks. In some sources, it is involved in the creation of the world together with Ülgen. Huma bird has taken place in many motifs with it.

The elements of Turkish Mythology are not as precise and orderly as the myths in other mythologies. It is composed of scattered and shamanist elements. This is why we cannot give clear and detailed information about the subject as in Greek mythology.

Thank you for reading…


Professor Dr. Bahaeddin Ögel - Turkish Mythology Volume 1-2

Yaşar Çoruhlu - Outline of Turkish Mythology

Celal Beydili - Turkish Mythology Encyclopedic Dictionary

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