Central Asian Mythology

Central Asian Themes and Gods

Who are the Central Asian deities?

There is always a creator. Sometimes the creator, a personification of the sky, because he was long ago separated from earth, interferes very little in the world. He is a deus absconditus, who keeps in contact with the world only via shamans. For the Tungus people he is Buga, for others he is Num, Es, or Turum. A Mongol Earth Mother-creator was Atugan, who sits at the base of the axis tree. Other Earth Mothers were the Yakut goddesses Itchita, the protector of health; Ynakhsyt, the protector of cattle; and Ajyst, the protector of children and of women in childbirth. Some Turko-Mongols and Yakuts were essentially monotheistic. The Turko-Mongol Tengri, the Yakut “White Master Creator,” and the Tartar Ulgen flowed smoothly enough into the Muslim concept of Allah. Tengri and creators like him watched over creation and controlled the social order of humans. There were always, however, other gods who were aspects of the high god, much as Shiva and Vishnu in India are seen by some as embodiments of the ultimate reality, Brahman. Odlek was the personification of Time, the goddess Umai was Earth and Fertility. Other aspects of the Supreme Being were gods and godesses of the sun and moon and other aspects of nature. Other Central Asian deities gave an animistic character to the overall mythology. These were master spirits who, like the kami of Japan, were extremely powerful and ever present in all aspects of life. Perhaps the most important deities after the Supreme Being in Central Asian mythology were the master spirits and the tricksters.


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