balbal stone statue

balbals in central asia

The human-shaped sculptures are known as “balbals” “kurgan stelae” or even “father stones”. Kurgan stelae are anthropomorphic stone stelae, images cut from the stone within or around kurgans. In the Turkic (not Turkish) world, it is commonly known as Bulbul means “ancestor” or “grandfather”. They have a strong face-shaped believed to be installed across by the Turkic tribes as a representation of slain enemies.

Later, they became memorials to their ancestors, described by detailed carvings of faces and hands. Balbals give us an insight into the clothes, jewelry, and weaponry of our ancestors. Those stelae are found in large numbers in Central Asia, Turkey, Siberia, Ukraine, Southern Russia and Mongolia. 

In the Iron Age they are identified with the Scythians and medieval examples with Turkic people. They were populated the Eurasian steppes stretching from the Danube River in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east. Archeologists believe that people carved swords on a statue means that it was a fighter or a man of power such as a tribe leader. 

bal bal in Talas
historic stone statue sculpture near Burana Tower in the Chuy Valley at northern of the country's capital Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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