Animal cults in ancient Siberia: from totems to symbols of authority

In ancient Turks totemistic beliefs occupied a significant place. For them the first gods were certain animals. The cult of animals among the ancient Turks appeared in the period when primitive man did not separate and oppose nature, and all tribal ties and primitive man himself were identified with the world of animals. The rulers of the ancient Turkic society were convinced that their legendary ancestors were born to a totem animal.
the wolf totem of the Turks
But, even in the ancient Turkic time the cult of animals began to disappear. Undoubtedly, its relics were still felt in legends, reinterpreted myths, but in them the primitive animal totem appears not as a pure original of the family, but in combination with a humanoid creature. According to one widespread legend, the Ashina clan from the house of Hunnu (Sunnu) was defeated in battle and exterminated. In other legends, a valley surrounded by mountains, called a cave, is inhabited by "cavemen". Until the beginning of the VI century, this "cave" was inhabited by the Turkic clan Ashina. In the cave ancient Turks prayed to the spirits of their ancestors.

In Turkic mythology, the cult of such an animal as the celestial wolf occupies a significant place, which for them became an ancient all-Turkic totem. The history of the Ashina clan, and the whole history of the Turks came from the "ten sons" born by the she-wolf. After all, the word "Ashina" means "excellent, heavenly wolf". This genealogical legend is also displayed on a tomb monument, which belongs to the early period of the Turkic Kaganate.
flag of the Turkic Khaganate
Gokturk Khaganate flag
After the disintegration of Turkic society, the totem also began to disappear. The image of totem as a symbol of the tribal union was also to disappear. The totem of this or that time became a separate organ or a certain color of animal. The Tatars were convinced that their totem animal, that is, their ancestor was the White Wolf. They considered the white wolf to be the guardian of folklore.

In addition to the cult of the wolf, the cult of the dog was widespread among nomadic peoples. In some legends, the dog is described as the ancestor of a family, tribe. Ancient Turkic cult was also a bull.

The ram was a sacrificial animal to Tengri. The image of the goat was the heraldic image of the Second Turkic dynasty. On the territory of the first Turkic Kaganate quite often there were rock images of ibexes. This is confirmed by the fact that two statues of rams facing each other were installed at the gate of the temple in honor of Kul-Tegin.
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