Who Is Tengri, this God of the Nomadic Peoples of Asia?

Tengri is a surprisingly little-known god.

In the language of the ancient nomadic peoples of Central Asia, “Tengri” literally meant “sky”. Thus, many describe him simply as a sky god...

As we will see, this is far from reality: Tengri was once the main deity for millions of people, the one whose rules literally governed their existence and who was the source of the natural phenomena punctuating their nomadic life.

Yes, few people know it, but Tengri was seen by many as an all-powerful being capable of deciding the destiny of men. Very clearly, he deserved that we write an article for him… and that you read it to the end!

Contents :

Who is Tengri really?

The god of the sky and the forces of nature

Tengri and the lucky charm of Nazar Boncuk

Tengrism: religion of this god

Exceptional tolerance!

Yurt of a nomadic village on which is the symbol of Tengri.

Who is Tengri really?

In fact, Tengri was considered to be an infinite and timeless being. Thus, and by his quality of sky god, he was represented by a blue, immense and limitless sky.

Where other deities are represented by statues that look like animals or humanoids, the power of Tengri can only be transcribed by the infinity of the sky...

This already gives us the character!

In fact, this god is so important and his worship so predominant that, even if the people who worshiped him knew other divinities, Tengri was considered a unique god. We can therefore speak here of a “primitive” form of monotheism.

This is so true that, in certain Muslim communities who have remained close to the tradition of their ancestors, men can just as easily say “only Allah knows” as “only Tengri knows”.

In short, at the height of its form, its cult extended from Anatolia to the borders of Korea, via Mongolia and all of Central Asia. In fact, all of Asia north of the Himalayas knew him as supreme god.

Even if he is little known, Tengri is clearly an important figure who left his mark on history.

Aerial view of a Mongolian town under a big blue sky.

The god of the sky and the forces of nature

In the nomadic lifestyle, the forces of nature necessarily play a big role.

The steppes are dangerous, we don't always know where to place our yurts. Sometimes you have to cross the desert and dangerous mountains. Climatic disasters can more easily devastate their homes, and an epidemic affecting horses could mean the death of the entire community.

Obviously, this more important place of nature is found in their beliefs.

Tengri is thus considered the very creator of nature.

To venerate him, men only had to be respectful towards their environment which they considered to contain the essence of the great god. (That said, by the way, this is something that apparently got lost!)

In fact, simple respect for other men was already seen as a form of veneration.

Indeed, nomadic mythology presents humanity as the result of the union between Tengri, god of the sky who provided souls, and the Earth, which provided bodies.

Several jewels with Nazar Boncuk, a lucky charm that wards off the evil eye

Keep the evil eye away

thanks to the powers of nazar boncuk


Tengri and the lucky charm of Nazar Boncuk

We told you just before: Tengri was an infinite and formless god whose greatness only the sky could show.

In reality, that's not entirely true...

When the followers of Tengrism wanted to build temples, altars and sanctuaries, the question of how to represent their god arose.

It is clear, it is not easy to represent an infinite sky on a wall of finite size. In fact, it's even impossible.

It would therefore be precisely for this reason that they created a lucky symbol that we still know today: the Nazar Boncuk.

Also known as the "Greek Eye" or "Blue Eye", this symbol is believed to be one of the Eyes of Tengri.

To give you a good idea of ​​what we are talking about, here is a simple Nazar Boncuk pendant, very comparable to the one worn by the steppe nomads.

Nowadays, this lucky charm is mainly used in Turkey, where it is believed to combat the evil eye.

You will also be able to hear many stories told about him there.

Some will tell you how Nazar Boncuk emerged from Islam. Others will tell you about a prehistoric origin.

In the end it's all quite vague... The only thing we are sure of is that, yes, comparable symbols were used in Tengrism.


If you like Turkish history…

If you are interested in Tengrism…

If the simple idea of ​​holding an age-old symbol with a fascinating history speaks to you…

You will then undoubtedly like our collection of jewelry and accessories dedicated to Nazar Boncuk.

Several blue altars dedicated to the god of Tengrism.

Tengrism: religion of this god

Tengrism is the shamanic religion formerly practiced in Central Asia which, as its name suggests, paid homage to Tengri.

In reality, there are many peoples who have followed Tengrism, or at least some of its forms. We can notably cite:

  • Turkish
  • The Huns
  • The Magyars (ancestors of the Hungarians)
  • The Mongols
  • The Bulgarians
  • The Bashkirs
  • The Altais
  • The Tatars
  • The Buryats
  • And many others

In terms of its characteristics, Tengrism is distinguished by a certain animism (the belief that everything can possess a soul), totemism (organization of clans around totems) and shamanism (role of priest-shaman who enter into communication with the spirits).

We have already said it: Tengriism is seen as a monotheistic faith because of the place that Tengri takes.

However, there were many other deities in this religion.

Among the most important, we can cite Yer-sub, the goddess of the earth, or Erlik, the god of the underworld.

It is also interesting to note the presence of a sort of ancestor cult where the souls of the dead were honored during great rituals.

Several symbols of different religions (two statues of gods and a candlestick).

Exceptional tolerance!

One of the greatest particularities of Tengrism is its great tolerance towards other religions.

Take the example of the Mongol Empire.

Even if Tengri and the emperor were the two most revered figures there, other religions were admitted and priests of other faiths could officiate with complete peace of mind.

It is undoubtedly the non-dogmatic character of Tengrism which made it such a welcoming spirituality: given that there was no written code, no "regulations", greater flexibility could be practiced there than in other types of worship.

Furthermore, if there is no dogma, there is nothing to impose on others. (Neither code of morality, nor way of thinking, etc.).

Given the violent morals of the time, this may seem surprising.

This tolerance was, however, a reality!

Look for example at this document dealing with religions in the Turco-Mongol empires and you will see more clearly.

In fact, for many historians, the way Tengrism was practiced would make it more of a way of seeing the world, nature and creation than a religion as such.

However, this did not prevent the leaders of nomadic peoples from being governed in accordance with the principles that Tengri teaches us.

So, even if nothing in this faith imposed rules, the leaders did create them. After several centuries of practice, the idea of ​​strict rules was gradually introduced.

At the end of the Mongol Empire, people even believed that if a king did not follow the laws of Tengri, he would irreparably lose his grace... and therefore his power.

In short, while Tengrism was originally intended to be a religion without dogma, rules still ended up subduing men.

If you want to learn more about the subject, here is the Wikipedia page dedicated to Tengrism. You will find some additional information there that we have not included so as not to complicate your reading.

Lucky charm featured in this article

Nazar Boncuk (or Greek Eye) Pendant

Nazar Boncuk (or Greek Eye) Pendant

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.