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Klyashtornyi S.G. Customary Law in the Ancient Turkic States of Central Asia: the Legal Documents and Practical Regulations // Central Asian Law: An Historical Overview. A Festschrift for The Ninetieth Birthday of Herbert Franke. Ed. by Wallace Johnson, Irina F.Popova. Topeka, Kansas, 2004.


“When the Blue Sky emerged above, and below - the Brown Earth, between the two human kinship appeared. And my ancestors - Bumyn-qaghan, Istemi-qaghan mounted the throne over the people. After mounting the throne, they founded the El (State) and established the Toru (Law) of the Turkic people!”

In such a way, Yollyg-qaghan tells about the former centuries, about the start of the Turkic el and its first qaghans - his ancient ancestors. He was the “prince of the lucky fate”, herald of the qaghans' house and the first Turkic chronicler, whose name and work has come to us down through the centuries. On the “eternal stone” - two steles decorated by the dragon figures - he wrote in Turkic runic script the funeral paragraphs in honor of his two buried kinsmen -Bilge-qaghan and Kul-tegin - and also did not forget to mention the founders of their great power. He repeated this text twice - in 732 and 735. The two stone steles with the inscriptions telling about the dynamic history of the Turkic people lie now in one of the hollows in the Hangai Mountains near the river Ork-hon, at the place where the rulers of the powerful nomadic Empires put their yurts and built their palaces.

Both of these inscriptions formulated the paradigm qaghan — El - Toru, the Ruler - State — Law. In this way, the three main bases of the social life and political thought of the Central Asian nomadic Empires were proclaimed. In addition, these inscriptions for the first time named the documents that fixated and proclaimed, reflected and preserved in the memory of the generations the norms of this life - the eternal stone, the eternal stele (bengu tash), the eternal letters (bengu bitig).

In the next three parts of my paper, I will try to illustrate how the legal relations and the legal concepts of the Turks were reflected in the inscriptions on the stone steles that were created by the Turkic intellectual elite, and also in the evidence given by the foreign observers, whose information significantly adds to and clarifies the short formulas of the Turkic peoples. The most important of the archaic nomadic state legal concepts were the laws on the grazing lands, the status of the qaghan domain and the norms of social inter-relationships. In the first part, I study the epigraphic documents that regulated inter-tribal relationships on the winter pastures, the main grazing territory of the nomadic community. In the second part, I publish and interpret the epigraphic inscriptions that were recently discovered in the central part of the Tian shan mountains and, in addition, the evidence from the Arab sources of the same period, which contain the information on kuruk - the Khan domain, the protected territory, which was meant for preparations for war and guarded by the representative of the Khan. The inscriptions precisely fix the territory of the domain and its boundaries. The third part views the forms of social dependency that were regulated by custom and law in the ancient Turkic states.

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Keywords


Ancient Turkic States
Ancient Turks
Central Asia
el-toru
executive power
holy law
kuruk
legislative power
Old Turkic inscriptions

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