Tonyukuk inscriptions to celebrate 1,300th anniversary next year

NUR-SULTAN – The Turkic world will mark the 1,300th anniversary next year of the Tonyukuk monument, a stone with zhyr (folk musical story-telling genre) engraved in Orkhon-Yenisei script.

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“Suiinshi (a Kazakh saying used when a person expects a reward for sharing joyful news) news from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation): next year, the entire Turkic nation will celebrate the 1,300th anniversary of the Tonyukuk ancestral monument. Congratulations!” International Turkic Academy President Darkhan Kydyrali wrote May 2 on his Facebook page.

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The inscription is a first-person narration, which researchers believe was written by Turkic political and military advisor Bilge Tonyukuk (in Chinese sources, Ton-yo-gu, Tunju). He lived c. 646-c. 732.

The script describes all the battles and intergovernmental negotiations in which Tonyukuk participated. It provides insight on the way the Eastern Turkic Kaganate was restored and gained its independence from China and how he subsequently contributed to friendly foreign policy. The well-written details make the zhyr a very valuable testimony for the events of the time. The ancient text has allowed historians to estimate the opponents’ strength, weapons, battlefield and battle length.

“Then I, like the sage Tonyukuk, reached the place where a lot of carpets, veils for women and other expensive things in huge quantities were brought. My khagan (Turkic king) heard the opinion of the sage Tonyukuk and said ‘I obeyed him, because he is truthful and wise,’” note the zhyr’s final words.

The Tonyukuk Memorial Complex is located not far from the modern Mongolian capital, in Dornod aimag (province), Tsagaan Ovoo sum (district). The Turkic inscriptions are almost entirely preserved.

The Turkic Academy opened May 25, 2010 in the Kazakh capital, gathering Turkologists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia (Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Tatarstan and Yakutia), Turkey, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan. Four Turkic countries, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, signed (Aug. 22-23, 2012) and ratified (Aug. 27, 2014) the academy’s international status, establishing a scientific centre to coordinate and promote research on Turkic history, languages, literature and culture.

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