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Göktürk Dönemi İnsan Figürlü Taş Anıtlar

Author(s): Lale Avşar İSKENDERZADE

Journal: Selcuk Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Dergisi
ISSN 1302-1796

Issue: 24;
Start page: 255;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: the Gokturk art | statues with human descriptions | “Stones with deer” | balbals.

Gokturks, who established an empire in the wide geography of Middle Asia, between the 6th-8th centuries, are politically and culturally accepted as the continuation of the Huns, who lived in the same region. Having started in the Middle Asian geography during the era of the Huns, the developments of building up common culture and art continued and further strengthened during Gokturk period, especially in the lands of Southern Siberia, Altai region, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan. In terms of the development of Pre-Islamic Turkish art, the importance of the Gokturk period depends on the spreading, establishment and entrenchment of common art and culture.In this area, among the examples of quite a few epigraphs that belong to the Gokturk Period, particularly those with human descriptions attract attention. The roots of this tradition which is linked by ancestors’ cult are traced back to mengirs, the structures of the primitive age. According to a more popular idea, such practices that emerged in line with the custom of burial face us in Central Asia and Southern Siberia in the Late Bronze Period. Beginning with Scythian period, such arrangements had been made not only around graves, but also in the sites where ceremonies and commemorations were performed. We recognize that the custom of sculpture with human figures further developed during the Gokturk period and that such items had become an indispensable element of the temples that were built for commemorations. It is possible to divide the epigraphs and sculptures into three groups: “Stones with deer,” stone monuments of the Tashtik culture and Gokturk balbals. The epigraphs in the form of human figures known as Gokturk balbals can internally be classified as tombstones in the form of humans, and original balbals.The monuments that have been dated back to the Gokturk period were made of stones of granite, basalt, breccia and rarely of marble. Based on a certain shape, some of the epigraphic monuments were arranged in the independent area, and the majority of them were arranged within or outside the area reserved for special memorial ceremonies.Among these stone monuments, which are classified as “Stones with deer,” statues, and balbals, it is statues that are recognized by more detailed descriptions and processing style. It is accepted that these depicted the deceased person himself and they were built to immortalise his memory. The Gokturk period statues that will be dealt with in this compilation are limited to the geography of Siberia and Mongolia that are closer to Altai region. A lately proposed hypothesis is the idea that these monuments, distinguished as descriptions of human beings sitting and standing, in fact, characterise figures that are always in sitting position.Another grouping can be done based on the objects these figures are holding in their hands. Among the stone monuments that have reached today are figures that hold a rhyton, musical instrument, severed human heads and figures holding birds. Unique symbolic meanings of all these objects are connected with the concept of death, burial and memorial ceremonies of Gokturks. Among the Gokturk period sculptures in the form of human figures that have reached today are more abstractly and plainly constructed ones besides those with a realistic style. These monuments built in various sizes and shapes generally exist in cult centres and around tombs.Because of the deer descriptions on the epigraphs that are frequently seen in the lands of Altai, Tuva region, Lake Baikal and neighbouring environment of the Ural river, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, these monuments are called “stones with most of the “stones with deer” only the figures of living beings were depicted; it attracts attention that few samples were attempted to resemble human figures. “Stones with deer” of the Gokturk period are round or square in shape in the view from the horizontal section. Human face depictions on these stones are seen on the upper parts which are diagonally cut towards the back.In the Gokturk period, it was customary to erect balbals in cult centres and the tomb complexes built for the high level rulers of the society. These balbals were erected outside square courtyards, their face towards east. In some constructions, the number of balbals reaches 170. Unlike Gokturk sculptures, the surfaces of these epigraphs were slightly smoothened and they were roughly shaped in the form of human figures. As it was the case for the sculptures, various hypotheses concerning the semantic meaning of these monuments have been put forward. For some, these stones were a part of traditional ceremonies and they represent the crucial figures of the Gokturk society, while for others these stones functioned as posts which horses called serge were tied to. The idea that these stones signified the dead person’s enemies whom he killed in life is accepted by most scientists. According to this idea, the people whose balbals were erected are readily available around the tomb of the dead person to serve him in the afterlife.Gokturk art, which forms one of the most important components of Turkish art, is quite significant in terms of the entrenchment of common language for culture and art and the identification of the outlines of Turkish art. The art of sculpture that experienced a bright future in this period, on the one hand, is the documentary witness of that culture. On the other hand, it is one of the indispensable resources of the art of modern sculpture. Through both their location and the style of construction as well as their common iconography and many details on them, these sculptures having innumerable examples in the land of Central Asia, which is accepted as the land of our ancestors, enables us to get comprehensive information about the Gokturk period.In this article, stone monuments with human descriptions belonging to the Gokturk Period will be handled in the form of three groups chosen by shared iconography and symbolic meaning, and artistic and stylistic features will be evaluated
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