If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly
Today in history

Cultural Walk: The Museum of history of Turkic writing

Cultural Walk: The Museum of history of Turkic writing - e-history.kz

The Heavens are above, and the Earth Mother is below
Turks were told: «Do not dare to die!»
May the clan not disappear — may nation be alive!»
Thus, the sky and earth obliged them to be.
Becoming the Khagan, gathered his miserable people,
Arranged and united disparates — and so
Who formerly was poor, soon became rich,
Soon my small nation became the great
What I said was not a lie?
So listen to me, the lords and people!

Kultegin was an outstanding military commander of the Second Turkic Khanate, recreated in VII–VIII centuries after the liberation wars against China. He became famous as a brave soldier and participant of many military campaigns of the Turks «there was nobody in that time who could resist his sword…»


Great warriors of Turkic nation. Kultegin is painted riding on a white horse

After the death of the hero the stone with two inscriptions, carved with Turkic runes and Chinese characters, was placed on the Orkhon River in. The inscription in the ancient Turkic language was made for descendants, in Chinese — for the whole Chinese Empire, to fight against genocide of which Kultegin devoted his entire life.

Everything that I wanted to tell my people
I have — here — on this ageless stone engraved.
Keep looking at it, read the writings


Monument to Kultegin


Inscription for the governors of the Chinese Empire

The copy of the Monument to Kultegin was brought from Mongolia to the L. N. Gumilyov ENU in 2001. A few years later it was decided to establish a Museum of History of Turkic writing.


Many famous figures of Kazakhstan attended the ceremony of opening of the museum on September 18, 2003 that confirmed by the notes had been made in the guestbook.


The records of many world politicians appeared in this book later. For example, this is a comment of the U. S. President George Bush about his visiting the museum.

The writing, which was used by the Turkic nations of Eurasia, is the rich heritage of world history and culture. Ancient Turks established their own writing; Orkhon-Yenisey, as it is commonly called in science. To do this they used not letters or hieroglyphics but runes, which express the whole concepts or semantic. It is necessary to select «keys» to each runic text carefully. This requires a deep knowledge of ancient and modern languages, history and culture.


Ancient Turkic runic writting

In the XIX century Danish scientist William Thomson was the first who succeeded in reading of two words in runic inscriptions which were «Turk» and «Tengri». It was a fantastic discovery for scientists-linguists and the gates to the rich world of the Turks opened for them. Eventually it became possible to decipher and translate the epitaph on the stone of Kultegin completely.


William Thomson

«Someday the world will read the world of stone books and the readers will be astonished at the world of the Kazakhs…» (Alkei Margulan)

Turkic nations speak 26 related languages having one common root. Since ancient times, the Turks used 16 writing systems.




The inscription on a clay brick, Kangyui era (II century. B.C. — I–IV centuries. A.D.)

In 1926 Akhmet Baytursinov reformed Kazakh writing, created on the basis of Arabic script. He excluded Arabic letters, which were not used in the Kazakh language and added specific Kazakh letters. Later Soviet power had transferred the Arabic script of the Kazakh alphabet to the Latin and after a while to Cyrillic, which we still use.


If you came to visit the Museum of history of Turkic writing, be sure to go to the room where the model of the underground mausoleum of Turkic ruler of VII century is exhibited. In 2011 the excavations of this amazing monument in Mongolia were led by Professor from the Eurasian University, famous turkologist Sartkozha Karzhaubay. The mausoleum goes deep under the ground for 8 meters. Being inside, scientists did not believe their eyes as they were in a real palace! On an area of 120 square meters archaeologists discovered about a hundred clay and wooden figures of humans and animals, six banners and nearly three kilograms of pure golden products: bracelets, rings, pins, several thousand coins.



Bust of Turkic aristocrat which was found in Mongolia

«The round world map» still attracts a particular attention of historians. It was drawn up in 1074 and is considered to be the most ancient Turkic map. Scientists discovered it while studying a brilliant work of Mahmud Kashgar «Divan ul-Lugat al-Turk». This work is considered as an encyclopedia of the Turkic nation: it contains valuable information about the Turkic tribes who lived in the XI century.


If the monument to Kultegin, that precedes the entrance to the museum, is a replica, this stone from the tomb of the great fighter for the freedom and independence of the Turks is real. As we were told, the stone has a wonderful ability to make dreams come true; it is necessary just to whish and set a hand on it. So to be sure that it will be realized you have a unique opportunity to do it twice when you enter and leave the museum.


The Museum of history of Turkic writing at the L. N. Gumilyov ENU is open from Monday to Friday from 9.00 till 17.00. It is necessary to notify about the desire to visit the museum in advance by the following phone number 70-95-00 (extension number: 31–138).


translated by  I.KUZMENKO

June 6, 2014