Ethnoarchaeological Approach to the Cult of Ram in Traditional Kazakh Culture
1Al-Farabi Kazak Millî Üniversitesi, Tarih, Arkeoloji ve Etnoloji Fakültesi, Arkeoloji, Etnoloji ve Müzecilik Bölümü, Almatı/KAZAKİSTAN
2Alkey Margulan Arkeoloji Enstitüsü, Almatı/KAZAKİSTAN
Keywords: The cult of ram, worldview, totem of an animal, ornament in the form of horn (qoshqarmuyіz)
The cult of the sheep/ram plays an important role in the life and ethos of the Kazakhs and many Turkic tribes as a totem animal. Numerous sculptural images of the ram depicted in the old Kazakh tombstones (qoitas, qoshqartas) and clay ram figurines were found in archeological excavations. The ram images in the rock engravings (petroglyphs) indicate its roots related to the ancient religions. Some of the handles in ancient pottery were zoomorphic in shape, and especially in the form of ram head. The cult of sheep/ram was connected with the specific conditions of life, traditions, husbandry of ancient tribes as Sakha, Kangli, and Medieval Oghuz and Kipchak. The cultic significance of the sheep/ram is explained by its sacredness related to the idea of human soul, and to moments of transformation. This cult has close connection with the tradition of nature worship in the pre-Islamic people of the ancient East. The sheep/ram served not only as a sacrificial animal, but also a talisman for Turkic people. There were interesting Kazakh and Turkic customs, superstitions and legends connected with the miraculous peculiarities of some bones of domestic animals. The images of the sheep/ram in the form of a horn (qoshqarmuyіz) symbolize wealth and fertility.