In my last article, I talked about some major Gods and Goddesses in Turkish mythology.
This time, I want to talk about Oghuz Khan (also known as Oghuz Khagan) and his family. Oghuz Khan is a legendary, semi-mythological khan of the Turkic peoples. Some Turkic cultures use this legend to describe their ethnic origins and the political clan system used by the Turkmen, Ottomans, and other Oghuz Turks. Various versions of the narrative have been preserved in many different manuscripts and published in numerous languages, as listed below in the references. The narrative is often entitled Oghuznama, the narrative of the Oghuz.
The Oghuznama is a very long and interesting story, so I am not going to go into too much detail. Instead, I want to focus on his two wives and six sons.
According to the legend, Oghuz was born in Central Asia as a son of Kara Khan, the leader of the Turkic peoples. His mother was Ay Han. He could talk as soon as he was born, and he refused his mother’s milk in favor of kimiz (fermented horse milk) and meat. He grew unnaturally fast and became a young adult in just forty days. Oghuz later killed the great dragon Kiyant with a bronze lance and cut off its head with a steel sword.
After Oghuz killed Kiyant, he became a hero. He formed a special warrior band from the forty sons of the forty Turkic Beys (lords or chiefs), thus bringing the clans together. Oghuz later learned about his father’s plan to kill him out of jealousy, so Oghuz instead killed his father and became khan.
After Oghuz became the khan, he went to the steppes alone to praise and pray to Tengri, the Turkic god I explained in the first article. While praying, he saw a circle of light descend from the sky with an unnaturally beautiful girl standing within it. Oghuz fell in love with the girl and married her. (This girl symbolizes the weather and air in legend, and she is sometimes called Goksel.) They later had three sons, whom he named Güneş (Sun), Ay (Moon), and Yıldız (Star), all in Turkish. Later, Oghuz went hunting and saw another mesmerizing girl inside a tree. (This girl symbolizes the earth and water in the legend, and she is sometimes called Yersel.) He married her as well, and they had three more sons named Gök (Sky), Dağ (Mountain), and Deniz (Sea). These six sons all had four sons themselves, and according to the legend, these 24 sons make up the Turkic clans.
There are both gods and goddesses in Turkic mythology, but Oguz Khan’s sons are not seen as gods but rather accepted as holy beings.
The Three Sons Born from Goksel (Also Called Bozoklar)
Gun Han (Day Khan) symbolizes the importance of the Sun to the Turkic peoples. His symbol is the common buzzard, which he uses to hunt other birds. He has a golden tent. Indeed, he is usually symbolized by the color gold, which is also the color of sunlight. According to the old Turkic beliefs, the Sun was always welcome, while the night was believed to be unlucky. They believed that the night fought the day and that the red sky at sunset was the blood of the Sun. Before he died, Oguz Khan left Gun Han in charge.
Yildiz Han (Star Khan) symbolizes the night stars. Stars were also very important to the Turkic peoples, as they would navigate using the stars. For this reason, Yildiz Han was seen as a pathfinder and navigator. It’s believed that his symbol was Bonelli’s eagle.
Ay Han (Moon Khan) was Oguz Khan’s last son from his wife Goksel, and he is symbolized by the harpy eagle. The Moon was important for providing light at night.
The Three Sons Born from Yersel (Also Called Ucoklar)
Gok Han (Sky Khan) symbolizes the great vastness of the Turkish homeland. His symbol is the peregrine falcon, and he is associated with the color blue. The vastness of the sky was very important to the old Turkic peoples.
Dag Han (Mountain Khan): In the old Turkic tribes, some mountains were believed to be sacred. Mountains were perceived as mighty and big, so Dag Han symbolizes the Turkish state’s greatness. In Turkish mythology, three mountains were especially important. These were the Golden Mountain in the sky, the Iron Mountain on the ground, and the Copper Mountain under the ground. Coincidentally, Dag Han’s symbol are three birds.
Deniz Han (Sea Khan) symbolizes the Turkish fleet’s strength and force. His symbol is the goshawk, which has a bluish color, symbolizing the sea.
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