Face Music - Religion of the Altai people

- Catalog (in stock)
- Back-Catalog
- Mail Order
- Online Order
- about Artists
- Sounds
- Workshops
- Instruments
- Projects
- History Face
- ten years 87-97
- Review Face

- Photos - Artists
- our friends
- Albis Face
- Albis - Photos
- Albis Work
- Links

- Home

- Contact

- Profil MySpace
- Profil YouTube
- Overton Network

P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

more information about Religion of the Turkish people in Altai - available in German
- Burkhanism or Ak Jang (White Faith) - Glossary
- Ak-Burkhan – most important deity in Ak Jang (White Faith).
Depicted as an old man with white hair, a white coat and a white hat, riding on a white horse. Possible analogy with the Mongolian "White Old Man" Tsagaan Ebügen, Master of the Earth and protector of happiness and the herd; it also stands for a long life and family.

- Ak kam – "white" shaman, addresses for Aru-tös (pure ancestors). They are the heavenly patrons, benefactors of the clans (sööks), who do not communicate with the Underworld (Erlik and demonic spirits).

- Altai-Kudai – God of the Altai Mountains.

- Algyschtschi (Algyshchi) – "he who gives blessing", a "little saint" having a vocation and messenger in ceremonies.

- Amyr-Sana – Figure in the "Tri-une", divine hero and messiah. A historical leader in the 18th century under the Dzungar-Oirat alliance, fighting the suppression of the Qing Dynasty (Manchu army).

- Altai-eezi – "Master of the Altai“, major spirit and supreme spirit in the Middle World. Fused with the Ak-Burkhan, the White Heaven God, and the Jer-sub, the spirits of the Middle World.

- Arbyschi – Whisperer.

- Arzhanga ulus bashkarar – Guide to the Holy Spring and accompaniment in ceremonial pilgrimages.

- Aru-tös – "pure ancestors", heavenly patrons and benefactors of clans (sööks) and shamans.

- Ashina – a legendary ancestor of all Turks, the mother of all, who was a she-wolf. "Tri-une" hero in Ak Jang, also called Shunu.

- Bilerkizhi (neme bilerkizhi = kaichi / bards) – People of knowledge, who are used in holy vocations.

- Burkhan – generic name for a deity in Ak Jang.

- Burkhanism – name for Ak Jang (White Faith) in the literature.

- Dver-Suu – God of the Earth.

- Erlik (Erklig) – Turk-Mongolian leader in the Underworld.

- Geser (Gesar) – archetypical hero in Central Asia; is often described as Geser-Khan.

- Jadachi – owner of a "weather stone" from jade.

- Jajachi – "Origin of Creation" and deity Ak Jang.

- Jajyk – a shape- and bodyless spirit and mediator. Comparable with the Holy Spirit of the Christian belief. Helps in communication and is called for mediation between the Ak-Jajyk (White Jajyk – messages for the Upper World of Gods) and the Sary-Jajyk (Yellow Jajyk – messages for the Gods of the Middle World).

- Jer-Sub – are the gods of the Middle World (Earth), which are also called "Arzhans“. They are existent in the sphere we are living in, and in nature. They take care of the problems and aspects of human life.

Jelbichi – special priests. These were needed in order perform a holy ceremony in the Turk-Mongolian Altai tradition, using incense. Such incense rituals using elder (yarlykchi) were important practises in the Ak Jang, only allowed to be performed by experts or priests, who were entitled to perform such "holy incense rituals".

- Joloyn – cult festivities in the Altai, organized since 1988. In their structure they are closely connected with the clan meetings, with religious context and the performance of epics using throat singing, which is performed by Kaichi (bards - singers). Nowadays, such meetings and performances have become extinct, having assumed the function of a folkloristic festival.

- Kagan – a traditionally elected tribe leader (king) among the Turk-Mongols. Were elected by clan leaders. There was basically no hereditary succession such as with dynasties (monarchies).

- Kai or Khai – throat singing - also general designation of "overtone singing".

- Kaichi – bards, epic narrators. Had an important position within the Turk-Mongolian tribes. It is characteristic that such orally transmitted stories and narrations are performed using throat singing.

- Kalmyks – a name, given by the Russian population, for migrated Altai people in the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century. Kalmyks were Mongolian speaking groups, with origin in the former Dzungar-Oirat Alliance, which had fled to the Altai from conquest and destruction during the Qing Dynasty in Western Mongolia. Many fled even farther, or migrated, settling nowadays in the Volga region, in the European part of Russia.

- Kara-tös – Black Ancestors (impure ancestors). These comprised Erlik and his Underworld including a variety of spiritual deceased as well as "spirits" of shamans already passed away, among other being named Kormos, Kormozhok. These are the numerous sons and daughters of Erlik and various demonic spirits, and finally a very important group - the souls or spirits of dead shamans (also of historical persons).

- Kospoktschi (Kospkchi) – clairvoyant.

- Kudai – general name for a supreme heavenly deity (from the Persian Khuda "God").

- Kure (Murgul) – an altar or shrine (or, in general, the site of worship) Ak Jang.

- Manjaktu kam – a shaman wearing a Manjak (shaman costume).This was the name for shamans in the Altai, who dealt and coped with the influence of the Underworld, affecting daily life, which was connected with Erlik and his entourage. Celebrated with a drum, which accompanied the shaman exclusively on his journey to the Underworld. There were performed ritualistic formulas for calling the gods to appear in sessions or meetings, often using drums, in order to help solving problems.

- Ovoo – a pile of stones (Herme), which is erected to mark the site for ceremonies, in which the Master of the Place (Genien Loci – local owner) is asked for blessing. Common tradition in the entire Central Asian region.

- Oirats (Oirots, Olots or Eleuths) - "alliance partner", a title for a tribal group. These were part of the Dzungar-Oirat Federation in Western Mongolia.

- Oirot-khan – was a legendary hero (leader), one of the war-heroes of the tribe of the Dzungars, and he became messiah in the Ak Jang.

- Ot-en – "Mother of the Fire", a very important deity in Central Asia. She was the main god for household ceremonies. Ot-en was also celebrated in Ak Jang.

- Ot-takyr - ceremony in Ak Jang, dedicated to Ot-en (Mother of the Fire).

- Pura (Bora) – "soul" of a sacrificed animal. These also played a significant role during sacrificial ceremonies with the Manjaktu kam, also for the Jajyk, belonging to the Upper and Middle Worlds. They were shape- or bodyless, such as the "Holy Spirit" in other religions.

- Sööks – clans, patrilinearly or exogamly structured, the basic units of Turk-Mongolian tribes.

- Shaby – helpers of priests in the Ak Jang, celebrating incense rites with the Yarlyktschi (messenger).
Shunu – one of the figures of the "Tri-une" (hero complex) in the Ak Jang. Contrary to Amyr-Sana, a leader of the Dzungar-Oirat Alliance, Shunu is no historical figure. The legends about him are connected with Shunu and Ashina (legendary ancestors of all Turks).

- Shuten (Murgul) – supreme festivity in the Ak Jang, which is normally performed twice a year, in spring and in fall.

- Taika-eezi – Master of the Mountain. He is an important spirit of the Earth (Middle World). Each clan (söök) has its own holy mountain, which played the same role on Earth as Aru-tös (pure ancestors) in the Upper World.

- Taiylga – permanent site for the Manjaktu kam (shaman with costume). These are fire places, sites of appeal, having numerous poles, at which animals are being sacrificed, which are then suspended on poles with their hides and heads.

- Tengri – supreme heavenly god of the Turk-Mongols (supreme God of the Sky / Heaven). He is the Master of the Upper World, of the Sky or the Kagan of the Heaven Stream, he is patron of the warriors and the Father of the People. In the antic epoch as well as in the Middle Ages, he was connected with (married to) Umai.

- Tengrianstvo – designation of a post-Sovjet form, a modern development from the Ak Jang.

- Tereng – valley in the Altai (near Gorno-Altaisk), where there were performed huge Ak Jang ceremonies following its foundation. Currently, it is a holy place for the Altai people.

- Tsagaan Ebügen – a deity, "Old White Man". His functions as the Master of the Earth (Middle World) are identical with those of the Master of the Altai (Altai-eezi) and the White God of Heaven (Ak-Burkhan). He is the link between the heavenly deities with an Upper World and the Earth (Middle World), and he is seen as the Master of the Earth. He was protector of happiness and the herd, patron of a long life and the family. He is represented as an old man, who always wears white, riding either on a white reindeer or on a white horse. In general, it is an old white man, but he may also be a woman - Ak-en (White Mother), which is considered the co-creator of the world, together with the creators Üch-Kurbustan and Ulgen.
Tsagaan Övgön was a well-known protector or deity, respectively, among the Tibetan and Mongolian believers. He has a dragon-like rod, and he is seen as the God of the Earth, of the Sky and of the herds. Originally, he is the ancestor of the unities of dynasties. He is also considered to be the protector of the herds, and he is responsible for the harvest. The figure of the Old White Man may be found in huge parts of Asia. On the one side, he is considered the God of Fertility, and on the other side he is a symbol of long life. Christian Buryats see him as the Holy Nikolaus; in Shamanism he is Pan, the Spirit of the Earth. In the Tsam (mask dance), he has the role of a clown.

- Üch-Kurbustan – supreme heavenly deity in the Ak Jang. The Üch-Kurbustan is seen as a unity of three already deceased heroes (üch = number 3), which have once been powerful and equipped with supernatural powers. Gods and Aru-tös (pure ancestors) were, like Üch-Kurbustan, in the mythology of the Turk-Mongolian peoples their supreme heavenly deities in the Upper World and like Tengri, the eternal Heavenly God in Shamanism. Üch-Kurbustan was also the only god and father of three sons, the origin thereof Ahura Mazda lying in an Indo-European relation.

- Ulgen – a generic name for Aru-tös (pure ancestors). Played a role in the story of creation.

- Umai (Ymai) – a "universal" deity of the Turk-Mongols. In the antic epoch and in the Middle Ages, he was married to Tengri - wife and mother figure. Umai-Eme: Goddess of Fertility. Currently, Umai is seen as the patron of birth and the children, and also as Mother of the Earth.

- Yadatschi (yadachi – yadadji) – rainmaker - one of the "little" saints in the Turk-Mongolian Altai tradition. Owner of the "weather stone" from jade.

- Yarlyktschi (yarlykchi – yarlyk) – specialists and priests in the Ak Jang (word-for-word: "messenger")

- Yarynchi (yaryntschi) – fortune tellers, which told the future on the basis of shoulder blades of sheep being thrown.

- Yduk Jer-Sub – main deities in the Middle World (also Holy Origin). This is seen either as a person or as a "collective figure"; a sum of all spirits of the Middle World. In many cultures, these deities stood in competition with each other, and they were replaced by the Master of the Altai (Altai-eezi) or the Old White Man (Tsagaan Ebügen).

- Yrymtschi (yrymchi) – "Medium", one of the little saints in a Central Asian tradition. His evocation was used by believers in the Tengrianstvo in the post-Sovjet period in the Altai.

- Zaisan – an officially elected chief of a clan (sööks). In many aspects, a Zaisan was equipped with a "smaller power", analogously with the Kagan (tribe leader). Zaisans were responsible for performing certain religious duties within a clan level.

© Albi – April 2014 – translated by Hermelinde Steiner - April 2015

back to Index Central Asia