Turkish Yer Sub  

Posted by Stella Clark

Turkish Yer Sub Cover
The word Yer-Sub had two meanings. One was the name of a Goddess, the other the visible world, i.e., the Native Land. Yer-Sub existed in the middle of the Universe and Her residence was on Khangan Plato (specifically, on the Lanshan Mountain in Mongolia). This place was called 'The Otuken Homeland'. The Turks depicted Yer-Sub as a voluptuous, beautiful woman, who was patroness of the Homeland (Land-Water). Nature and all living beings were subordinate to her. Therefore, the Turks viewed Yer-Sub as the second highest deity, after Tengri. Yer-Sub is mentioned together with Tengri in the Orkhon Inscriptions, under the name Yduk Yer-Sub (Sacred Earth-Water). One of the records states: "Turkic Tengri and Turkic sacred Yer-Sub said in Heaven: ‘Let not the Turkic people vanish! Let them be a Nation!’" The ancient Turks called the visible world occupied by their people Yer-Sub (Land-Water) or Middle Earth, emphasising its central location. Each clan and tribe had their territory, the boundaries of which outlined their world. This Yer-Sub (Land-Water) was theirs, beyond which were others' possessions. Their own limited Yer-Sub was not just a settled space but also a smaller version of the world in general. For each clan, their land was the centre of the world and a focus of order and harmony. 'Native land' was not only a geographical concept, but was also a space that could be emotionally perceived by man. It was the land of the Clan and of the Ancestors and could never be sold or given away.

The dominant role in determining the fate of people and nations belonged to Tengri, but natural forces yielded to Yer-Sub. Sometimes on Tengri's command, Yer-Sub punished people for their sins. But she was generally considered a benevolent Goddess. To appease Yer-Sub, sacrifices were made every spring in preparation for the cattle-breeding season and before planting crops. Sacrifices were also conducted in the autumn, after the completion of the harvest. During the times of the Khaganates, sacrifices to Yer-Sub had a nation-wide character. They were conducted near rivers and on the banks of lakes. A reddish horse was sacrificed with appeals for the fertility of cattle and crops, and for general well being. With the disintegration of the ancient Turkic states, the rituals to Yer-Sub began to take on distinct local forms. As in ancient times, they were conducted in the upper rivulets and on the shores of lakes. White rams were sacrificed and hung on a tree, under which a prayer was conducted. After the ritual, participants feasted and exchanged gifts.

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