Oghuz Khagan

Oghuz Khan pictured with two horns as Zulqarnayn on a 100 Turkmenistan manat banknote.

Oghuz Khagan or Oghuz Khan (Turkish: Oğuz Kağan) was a legendary and semi-mythological Khan of the Turks. Some Turkic cultures use this legend to describe their ethnic origins and the origin of the system of political clans used by Turkmen, Ottoman, and other Oghuz Turks. The various versions of the narrative preserved in many different manuscripts has been published in numerous languages as listed below in the references. The narrative is often entitled Oghuznama, or narrative of the Oghuz.


The legend of Oghuz Khan is one of a number of different origin narratives that circulated among the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. It was first recorded in the 13th century.

The anonymous Uyghur vertical script narrative of the 14th century, which is preserved in Paris, is a manuscript that was probably already being modified to fit with stories of the Mongol Conquest, as Paul Pelliot has shown. But it does not have any suggestions of Oghuz Khan's later significance as Islamizer of the Turks, and it does not include the figure of Moghul (Mongol) as an ancestor of Oghuz Khan.

Abū’l-Ghāzī’s 17th century version roughly follows Rashīd ad-Dīn’s already Islamized and Mongolized (post-conquest) version of the early 14th century. But in his account, Oghuz Khan is more fully integrated into Islamic and Mongol traditional history. The account begins with descent from Adam to Noah, who after the flood sends his three sons to repopulate the earth: Ham was sent to Hindustan, Sam to Iran, and Yafes went to the banks of the Itil and Yaik rivers and had eight sons named Turk, Khazar, Saqlab, Rus, Ming, Chin, Kemeri, and Tarikh. As he was dying he established Turk as his successor.

Turk settled at Issiq Kul and was succeeded by Tutek, the eldest of his four sons. Four generations after him came two sons, Tatar and Moghul, who divided his kingdom between them. Moghul Khan begat Qara Khan who begat Oghuz Khan. For three days he would not nurse and every night he appeared in his mother's dream and told his mother to become a Muslim or he would not suckle her breast. His mother converted, and Abū’l-Ghāzī writes that the Turkic peoples of Yafes from the time of Qara Khan had been Muslim but had lost the faith. Oghuz Khan restored Islamic belief.


According to legend, Oghuz was born in Central Asia as the son of Qara Khan, leader of the Turks. He starts talking as soon as he was born. He stops drinking his mother's milk after the first time and asks for kımız (an alcoholic beverage made with horse milk) and meat. After that, he grows up supernaturally fast and only in forty days he becomes a young adult. At the time of his birth, the lands of the Turks were preyed upon by a dragon named Kıyant. Oghuz arms himself and goes to kill the dragon. He sets a trap for the dragon by hanging a freshly killed deer to a tree, then kills the great dragon with his bronze lance and cuts off his head with his steel sword.

After Oghuz kills the dragon Kıyant, he becomes a national hero. He forms a special warrior band from the forty sons of forty Turk beys (clan chiefs)thus gathering the clans together. But his Chinese stepmother and half-brother, who is the heir to the throne, become intimitated by his power and convince Qara Khan that Oghuz was planning to dethrone him. Qara Khan decides to assassinate Oghuz at a hunting party. Oghuz learns about this plan and instead, kills his father to become the Khan. His stepmother and half brother flee to China.

After Oghuz becomes the khan, he goes to steppes by himself to praise and pray to Tengri (Sky-God). While praying he sees a circle of light coming from the sky, there was a supernaturally beautiful girl in the light. Oghuz falls in love with the girl and marries her. He has three sons which he names Gün (Sun), Ay (Moon) and Yıldız (Star). Later, Oghuz goes hunting and sees another supernaturally beautiful girl inside a tree. He marries her and has three sons which he names Gök (Sky), Dağ (Mountain) and Deniz (Sea).

After his sons are born, Oghuz Khan gives a great toy (feast) and invites all of his beys (lords). At the feast, he gives this order to his lords:

"I am became your Khan;
Let's all take swords and shields;
Kut (divine power) will be our sign;
Grey wolf will be our uran (warcry);
Our iron lances will be a forest;
Khulan will walk on the hunting ground;
More seas and more rivers;
Sun is our flag and sky is our tent."

Then, he sends letters to the Kings of the Four Directions, saying: "I am the Khan of the Turks. And I will be Khan of the Four Corners of the Earth. I want your obedience."

Altun Khan (Golden Khan), on the right corner of earth, submits his obedience but Urum (Roman), Khan of the left corner, does not. Oghuz declares war on Urum Khan and marches his army to the west. One night, a large male wolf with grey fur(which is an avatar of Tengri) comes to his tent in an aura of light. He says, "Oghuz, you want to march against Urum, I want to march before your army." So, the grey sky-wolf marches before the Turkish army and guides them. The two armies fought near the river İtil (Volga). Oghuz Khan wins the war. Then, Oghuz and his six sons carry out campaigns in Turkistan, India, Iran, Egypt, Syria, with the grey wolf as their guide. He becomes the Khan of the Four Corners of the Earth.

In his old age, Oghuz sees a dream. He calls his six sons and sends them to the east and the west. His elder sons find a golden bow in the east. His younger sons find three silver arrows in the west. Oghuz Khan breaks the golden bow into three pieces and gives each to his three older sons Gün, Ay and Yıldız. He says: "My older sons, take this bow and shoot your arrows to the sky like this bow." He gives three silver arrows to his three younger sons Gök, Dağ and Deniz and says: "My younger sons, take these silver arrows. A bow shoots arrows and you are to be like the arrow." Then, he passes his lands onto his sons, Bozoks (Gray Arrows - elder sons) and Üçoks (Three Arrows - younger sons) at a final banquet. (Abū’l-Ghāzī identifies the lineage symbols, tamga seals and ongon spirit guiding birds, as well as specifying the political hierarchy and seating order at banquets for these sons and their 24 sons) Then he says:

"My sons, I walked a lot;
I saw many battles;
I threw so many arrows and lances;
I rode many horses;
I made my enemies cry;
I made my friends smile;
I paid my debt to Tengri;
Now I am giving my land to you."

Historical precursor

"In the scientific literature, the name of Maodun is usually associated with Oguz Kagan, an epic ancestor of the Türkic people. The reason for that is a striking similarity of the Oguz-Kagan biography in the Turko-Persian manuscripts (Rashid al-Din, Hondemir, Abulgazi) with the Maodun biography in the Chinese sources (feud between the father and son and murder of the former, the direction and sequence of conquests, etc.), which was first noticed by N.Ya. Bichurin (Collection of information, pp. 56–57)".[1][2]


Oghuz Khan is considered mythological founder of Turkic people, and ancestor of Oghuz subbranch of Turks. Even today, subbranches of Oghuz is classified in order of 6 sons and 24 grandsons of Oghuz Khan. In history, Turkmen dynasties often rebelled or claimed sovereignty, by saying their rank is higher than the existing dynasty in this tribal classification.

Oğuz and Oğuzhan are a common masculine Turkish given names, which are used in memory of Oghuz Khan.


  1. Bichurin N.Ya., "Collection of information on peoples in Central Asia in ancient times", vol. 1, Sankt Petersburg, 1851, pp. 56-57
  2. Taskin V.S., "Materials on history of Sünnu", transl., 1968, Vol. 1, p. 129

See also


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