Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

They are called in various ways: “badiz” or “musin”, but the most widespread variant sounds like “balbaltas”. They can be met from the Mongolian sacred Orkhon River to the very Caspian Sea: in Mongolia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China and Kazakhstan. The political scientist Yerlan Karin had been researching the warriors for five years and issued his photo album devoted to this research.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

We start our journey from Mongolia, the sacred Orkhon river which was the spring of the nomads.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Scientists believe that the local stone warriors bear evidence of the period of steppe kagans’ power, military and political system and traditions of that time.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

“Balbals” were made in honor of dead kagans, princes, sultans and baturs. Artistic patterns can tell about the social estate the particular person belonged to.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Influential people, those who were close to kagans, sit with their legs crossed and hold a cup in their right hand.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

One of the largest and most famous memorial complexes of Mongolia preserved to our days is devoted to Bilge-kagan. It’s situated 400 km from Ulan-Bator, on the left bank of the Orkhon.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Balbals can be conditionally divided into two groups: ancient Turkic stone sculptures of the VI-VIII centuries and Kipchak sculptures of the IX-XIV centuries.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

After the epoch of the Kipchaks the stone sculptures spread in the North Caucasus, in Russia, Ukraine and further to the west up to the Dunai.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

They were appearing on new territories and their shape was changing.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Gravestone monuments “kulpytas” spread in the west of Kazakhstan continue the traditions of “balbals”, however being already influenced by Islam.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Golden Cradle of the Turkic peoples – Altai. There are boundaries of four states in Altai’s mountains – Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, but all four sides are inhabited by Kazakhs.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

This is where the first Old Turkic state entities appeared – kaganates, where appeared Turkic writing – Orkhon-Yenisei runic script.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Kosagach is one of the largest Kazakh auls in Russia. In 1993 on its territory there was found embalmed Pazyryk Princess who lived 2500 years ago. This finding made the place world known.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Balbal of Altai.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

In the Chinese part of Altai is the richest Old Turkic historical heritage.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Local aksakals respectfully call these big stone warriors as “stone heroes”. Due to the intensive development of industry and agriculture preservation of the stone sculptures is undecided.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Stone sculptures of neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Twelve kilometres to the south of the city called Tokmaka is a famous archaeological complex Burana which has about eighty Old Turkic balbals.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Stone statues in the Shyngystau mountains.
There used to be the old period when over graves huge solid stones were put.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Later faces appeared on these stones and they started to be called “balbals”.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Most of northern Kazakh monuments were destroyed in the process of clearing.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

One of few places where statues have been preserved – Bayanaulsky district of the Pavlodar region.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Complex Kumai is a precious finding in the Akmola region.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

One archaeologist from Astana dug out one balbal in 2009 and sold it to the capital’s museum. Only after the interference of mass media and long examinations it was brought back to the complex.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Balbals found in the Karaganda region.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

This statue is one of the most precious. It’s located in the Zhambyl region.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Most of the sculptures in this complex are dated the eighth century.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

The style of local statues creation is evidence of active cultural exchange between the Turkic tribes.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Merki-Mynbulaksky complex is located on the west side of the Kyrgyz Alatau, on the terriotry of the Zhambyl region at the upper stream of the Merki river at height of 2700-3600 m.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

In the mausoleum near the Merki river there are women’s images next to men’s ones. Out of the 64 sculptures here 31 portray women.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Mangystau is located where nine roads meet. Different Turkic peoples were moving east and west along these roads.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

Since very old times locals had been in constant contact with various peoples, and the way they worked with stones could not remain unimpacted.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

The stone sculpture found in the complex called Baite is two meters high.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

These features resemble Persian or Greek ones, these statues have a lot in common with sculptures of European peoples – it proves that early cultures of West and East were in close contact.

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

But will these monuments be preserved?

Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past

More and more balbals located in steppe are disappearing. They are stolen, destroyed, broken…

via voxpopuli

6 thoughts on “Searching For Stone Warriors of the Past”

  1. Eerily similar to the silent stone moai of Easter Island, all the way down to the bleak and lonesome landscape that surrounds them.

    Reply
  2. These resemble phallic symbols I have seen in Argentina. Carve a face on one of them, and you have the same thing. Could these be much older but modified monoliths?

    Reply

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