Khosho Tsaidam

The Khosho Tsaidam Turkic monuments are made up of four memorial complexes, including those erected in honor of Bilge Khan, a famous politician of the Eastern Turkish Empire (d. 734), and Kul Tegin, commander-in-chief of the Turkic armed forces and younger brother of Bilge Khan.

The Khosho Tsaidam memorials are the most important known archaeological remains of the Turkic Empire, which extended across Central Asia in the 6th -8th centuries AD. The unique information presented in the inscriptions on the steles located here has proven extremely valuable to the study of Central Asian history and culture; in addition, the memorial sites have supplied particular insight into the world view, religious beliefs, architecture, arts, literary development and political relations of the early Central Asian peoples.

In terms of their external and internal structure, these first two memorials are essentially identical, consisting of three sections: an entrance area, containing a stele with Turkic runes and Chinese characters, mounted on a granite pedestal fashioned in the form of a turtle; a prayer temple; and a section containing an altar-stone. However the memorials differ in relation to the human and animal statues and the arrangement of the buildings they contain, as well as in terms of their state of preservation. The remaining two memorials contain stones engraved with flower and bird figures, but it is unknown to whom these are dedicated. These smaller memorial complexes also include the remains of surrounding walls and moats, engraved square stone fences, human and animal statues, and bal-bal stones, as well as traces of a former temple.

Although the dates of the Bilge Khan and Kul Tegin memorials are clearly recorded, there is nothing stated in historical sources about the other memorials located nearby. However, as a result of archaeological studies and investigations, it is possible to say that all of them were built during the same approximate time period, considering the similarity of their designs, structure, and customs. Thus, many scholars have concluded that the monuments were established in the 730s in honor of Turkic kings and aristocrats, and were destroyed by Uyghur’s only about ten years after their establishment. The Uyghur’s broke down nearly everything including the figures of the king and his attendants.

Recent excavations at the Khushuu Tsaidam site have led to the discovery of many interesting objects, including two headless sheep statues from the entrance to the Bilge Khan memorial; the broken half-torso of a human statue made of coarse white granite, with missing head and right arm, holding a flat object in the fingers of the left hand, situated between the turtle stone and the offering-temple; a golden crown ornamented with the figure of a mythical bird; gold and silver containers; and a silver deer figure.


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