Mustafa Aksoy


In this paper, names of “Turks” are examined in terms of Proto-Turks and their cultures before the first written name “Turk” appeared in history. Symbols (damgalar) used by Turks and symbols which were armorial bearings of some Turkish tribes based on field studies in Turkey and Central Asia are the subject of this paper.

The Name Turk

The concept of Turk, firstly seen on the “Orhun” monuments, dominantly as “Turuk”. (These are the first stones made monuments consisting the name Turk; they were built in years 720-725, 732-735). However it is obvious with documents that these people had not emerged instantaneously. On the other hand, a process is necessary to live for emerging of a man in historical scene. So, the real question is that “who are the first ancestors (proto ancestors) of Turks?” Some of the historians had given sometimes different, sometimes same answers to this question. For example, historians, who are specialized in pre-Islamic Turkish history, like W. Eberhard, İ. Kafesoğlu, B. Öğel, L. Rasonyi, unanimously say “Hiung-nus” are the Proto-Turks

On the other hand it was supposed that, the “Targita” in Heredotos’ treatise, “Togharma”, the grand child of Yafes in Old Testament, “Turukha” and “Thrak” in Indian sources, “Tik” in Chinese sources, the “Turukku”s in hieroglyphs of front Asia as Turkish tribes.

The Turk name had been searched in Zent-Avesta and Old Testament. For example, “Turk” the grandchild of Noah and Turac or Tur, who is the son of the ruler Feridun (Thraetaonna) in Avesta, had been shown as a tribe named as Turk.

The word Turk used in a Persian text, dated 420, for expressing the “Altayid” and “Turanid” (in Persian Literature the word “turk” also used for beautiful), later as in year 515, instead of “powerful Khun” the term “turk Khun” had been used. But as the name of a nation and state; firstly used in the annual record of Chou family (557-579), in Western World; in the treatise of historian Agathias (died in 582), in Arabic Laguage; in the divan of N. Zubyani (died in 600) and in Slavic Language; used in the first Russian chronicles in XII century.

The word “turk” has different meanings, of which the known ones are T’u-que (Turk) = helmet, Trk = the leaved, Turk = the age of maturity. According to A. Wembrey and J. Deny the word “turk” is originated from “türemek” (reproduction). The first Turkish sociologist, Ziya Gökalp (1886-1924) used “Turk” as “Töreli” (having order and code, tradition).

Yusuf Has Hacip (Hajeeb) used “turk” as name and adjective in his masterpiece Kutadgu Bilig.

As adjective; ” ay ilig baka kör seningde oza beg erdi atangilde erk turk tuze” (Hey the ruler, look up, the one who ruled better than you was your father). Here used as “powerful, strengthful”.

As name; ” Körü borsa emdi bu türk begleri ajun beglerinde bular yigleri” ( If you pay attention, you may see that, among the world rulers, the best ones are Turkish). Bu turk beglerinde ati belgülüg tonga alp er erdi kuti belgülüg ( among these turk rulers, the one whose career seemed obvious was Tonga Alp-Er)

Symbol (stamp/damga)

At the end of my studies, I collected thousands of symbols (stamps/damgalar). The symbols are very important authentic evidence in cultures of peoples. Especially, for the Turks, these have mythological specifications more than being both the sign of independence and ornament-art material. For example, in Oguz Kagan Legend, one of the creation legends of Turks, it has been said that Turks are coming from 24 tribes. The symbols of these 24 Oguz tribes showed and these symbols of 24 Oguz tribes are still used by Turkish people either as it was or as modified.

The use of some names of totems, which are accepted as god or holly by pre-Islamic Turks in symbols are determined. For example, “Umay Ene” (Which is the protective god of ancient Turks.), Eagle, deer and ram are some of them. But there is no symbol named as Turk. However, It has been seen symbols of “Turkmen rose” or “Hun rose” (according to historians the Kuhns are the firs ancestors of Turks who had established empire).

In the written history of Turks, the name “Turk” firstly used in Orhun Monuments. (In 732 AC) These monuments were written by the first Turkic alphabet, Runic alphabet. Some letters of this alphabet are based on the stamps which were (and still are) used by Turks.

Another aspect of these symbols is their usage of evidence by the scientists who postulate Indians as first Turks or Asians passed through Bering Channel. It is a fact that the Indian traditions and the symbols which they used are dramatically corresponding to old Turkish ones. These can be reviewed in “Dene and Na-Dene Indians” of Ethel G. Stewart and “Indians of the United States” of Clark Wissler.

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