TONYUKUK’S STELE

This is a sacred memorial complex dedicated to Tonyukuk, a general and an adviser of the last 3 kings of Turkic empire. It is situated northwest of Mount Bayantsogt 15km east from Nalaikh district and 4km west from Ar Janchivlan spa-resort in Erdene Soum, Tuv Aimag. In 1957 a doctor N.Ser-Odjav dag and studied the grave in a wider range. The building ruins with a single row of blue brick wall were discovered as a result of the expedition. It became clear that the floor had been wholly erected with a brick and the roof had been tiled.  The walls were painted in vivid colors such as a red and a black. Most of the vase finds were like an ashet of a flared lip and a flat bottom. A human figure with a rather luxuriant eyebrow, a full eye, a sharp fanged and flared nose was carved on a column of the building.



Surrounding the Stele, there are 9 granite dressed man stones each designed differently. Approximately 400 stones were placed along 1300m long distance from the complex directing east.

Ancient Turks used to cremate those dead and practice a special ceremony to please spirits of them and establish sacred burials to visit them regularly. These sacred burials vary in size, construction and design depending on origin and rank of a particular person. 

The arrangement: a sacred burial is enclosed by square slabs, a man stone is placed in front of the burial and large numbers of white stones are filed from the stele until downhill. According to researchers, a meaning of filing stones can be explained in two ways. First, number of stones is equal to the number of enemy soldiers killed by a particular person. Second, those stones represent people who participated the funeral.

Octahedral two steles in the complex have a 62-rowed inscription. The first stele is 170m high and the second one is 160m. 27 rows of the inscription are on the first stele and remained 25 are on the second one.  Turkic general Tonyukuk had the stele built when he was alive. The inscription said that “I dreamed of Turkic empire having its own king. Afterwards, it had a king, but soon it again became under the control of China. It was difficult to unite for Turks who weren’t conquered by China, because enemies were threatening from all sides – China on the south, Khitan on the east, Okuz on the north. Further, he mentioned the wars against Kyrgyzstan, Tardush, Sogd and others clearly. Bending those soft like tearing those thin is easy. Like that, the country is easy to conquer, when it is weak, but difficult when strong and much brave is needed to conquer. As a result of his loyalty to the last 3 kings of Turkic empire, Elteres, Kapkan, Bilge, the country became a real country and the state became a real state”.

Tonyukuk (646-732): He was a nobleman of Ashina tribe from which the most powerful noblemen were originated. Tonyukuk had been a state prisoner until he became an advisor of king Kutuluk after his unrest. King Elteres (Kutuluk) was died in 693 when the Turkic empire was under the control of China. After his death his son Mojo was enthroned as a king and started a sweeping political change by removing old noblemen including Tonyukuk from state affairs. These persecuted state aristocrats headed by Tonyukuk plotted against the king and dethroned him. And Prince Mogilyan was claimed as a king of Turkic empire with a title “Bilge” to whom Tonyukuk served as an advisor and a general. Tonyukuk was died in 732 at the age of 86.