Tree of Life Meaning - Turkish Culture

As you will see in the other sections, trees are really important for Turkish people. To find out why this importance attributed to tree, I investigated early Turkish culture. I see that Turks were mostly hunters and gatherers in Middle Asia period. In other words, they didn’t try to manipulate nature. Their way of living is strictly connected to their belief. As we learned in our conservation psychology class, religion is one of the crucial factors which shapes ethics or morals of people. Tree concept in Turkish culture obviously verifies that hypothesis. In Middle Asia there was not a religious consensus between Turkic tribes. Though, most of the Turkish people used to believe tengrism. “Tengrism” is also know as “Sky God religion”. Religious mans are called as shamans in that religion. Nature was crucial for Sky God religion. Accordingly, a special meaning attributed to tree in that term. “Tree of Life” was one of the symbols of Sky God religion.

Turkish people believed that there is a star at the middle of the sky and this star is North Star. Tree of life roots from the middle of the Earth and connects it to North Star. It symbolizes a gateway between the Earth and hereafter. According to the shamans this connection is as important as a umbilical cord for a fetus. Branches of tree of life are seen as a tool for traveling between the Earth and higher universes. As understood, sky has different layers in Turkish mythology. Those layers and tree of life are presented by knurling a pole made up of beech tree in old times. Number of hacks knurled on the pole could be 7, or 9, or 12 in different Turkic tribes. At an astral journey of a shaman, he climbs through those layers of sky. In Yakut culture, tree of life is symbolized as blooming. When it blooms, a yellow colored liquid is excreted from top of tree of life. This liquid believed to be curative. In folktales, the spirits which are waiting for to come the Earth are portrayed as birds perching on the branches of tree of life.

Consequently, present day importance of tree is originated from early beliefs of Turkish people. Therefore, Turkish culture and expectedly Turkish language has a lot of notions containing tree. Today, tree is symbol rather than an ordinary plant for Turkish people. For this reason, many people immediately react against to applications including logging, or there many ongoing conservation projects about trees in Turkey.

A Turkish coin with a tree of life motif (
Famous Turkish Plate of Iznik (
A pedant with tree of life and evil eye (
A Common Turkish Carpet Containing Tree of Life (
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