1300-year-old Stele of Tonyukuk the Wise

Art & Culture
2021-04-12 10:47:01

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. A memorial complex consisting of the stele of Tonyukuk the Wise, who served as an advisor to three successive khans of the Turkic Khaganate, and a place of sacrifice is located northwest of Bayantsogt Mountain in Erdene soum, Tuv aimag, and 66 km southeast of Ulaanbaatar city. The complex is put under special protection.


Alongside two inscriptions, there is an engraved stone platform, a kurgan stelae with its top part broken, small standing stones, pottery, bricks, and an irrigation system located at the site.



Due to being worn down by years of exposure to the wind and sun as well as damages, some parts are noticeably darker. There are 62-rowed inscriptions on 8 sides of the two monuments. For instance, while the 217-cm-tall first inscription monument has 37 rows of inscription, the second one that stands 243 cm tall has rows 38 to 62.


With the inscription saying, “But should a people, ruled by a kagan in any land whatever, have only worthless men [at its head]  what misfortune would it not be for it. For the Turkish Bilge kagan’s people, I have had this written. I the wise Tonyukuk,” it proves that the inscriptions were made when he was still alive. Researchers have also found that the inscription tells about the social situation of that time from Tonyukuk’s viewpoint.



Born of the Ashina noble family from which most powerful aristocrats and noblemen of the Turkic Khaganate originated, Tonyukuk the Wise lived between the years of 646 to 732. After serving as an advisor for Qapaghan Khan and Kutulug Khan, he continued to work under Bilge Khan until his death at the age of 86. The Turkic Khaganate (or the Gokturk Khaganate) was a ruling Empire in Central Asia in 552-745.


Researchers have been conducting studies on the stele of Tonyukuk since 1897. It is believed that the monument was erected between 720 and 734.

In the framework of a joint project by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and TIKA on the protection and restoration of Turkic monuments in Mongolia, fences have been constructed for the 1300-year-old stele’s complex, providing protection for one of the monuments under state protection in Mongolia.


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