Bugut Inscription
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The Bugut inscription, dated 584 CE, placed in front of the Guden Sum temple (built in 1680) in Tsetserleg, Mongolia

The Bugut inscription is a multi-lingual inscription first discovered in Ikh-Tamir sum of Arkhangai Province, Mongolia. The inscription is dated to 584 CE and was dedicated to Taspar Khagan (reigned 572-581) the fourth Khagan of the Turkic Khaganate. The inscription is in the form of a monumental wolf-crowned stele 198 cm high that sits on a turtle base 47 cm high. The front, right and left side of the stele has a Sogdian (East Iranian) inscription written in the Sogdian alphabet. The back side has a Mongolic Ruanruan inscription (Vovin 2019) written in the Brahmi script.[1] The original location of the inscription on the west bank of the Bayantsagaan river, a tributary of the North Tamir river, shows evidence of a walled complex. The wall embankment is 59mx30m with an inner moat 4.5m wide and 2m deep. In the center of the walled complex was a temple whose wooden pillars and roof tiles were still visible on the ground. Only a few brick fragments were found. The inscription itself was found within the walls on a square platform 7.5mx7.5m made of layered stones.[2]

Historical context

Turkic Khaganate at its greatest extent in 576 CE

The stele was erected in 584 CE with a latest date of 587 CE. It is dedicated to Taspar Khagan who is also called Tatpar Khagan. By this time the Turkic Khaganate stretched from Manchuria to the Black Sea. It controlled the Silk Road while its imperial seat of power was in central Mongolia. The Turkic Khaganate replaced their previous overlords the Rouran Khaganate (also called Ruanruan) in 552 with the help of the Western Wei. The Turks proceeded to defeat the Hepthalite vassals of the Rouran in Uzbekistan with the help of the Sasanian Empire of Persia in 560. The defeat of the Rouran and Hephthalites and their pursuit by the Turks precipitated the migration of the Avars into Eastern Europe. Charlemagne would ultimately accept their surrender in 798 at Aachen and send one native chief, baptised Abraham, back to Avaria with the ancient title of khagan. The Turks allied with the Byzantine Empire against the Sasanians. Byzantine envoy Zemarchus visited Istemi Khagan in the Altai Mountains (Golden Mountains) in 569. The Sogdian language of the inscriptions reflects the prominence of Sogdians on the Silk Road. Sogdians were East Iranians from Sogdia, one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire. The Mongolic Ruanruan inscription reflects the influence of the previous Rouran Khaganate. The title Khagan was first used by the Rourans who were an offshoot of the Xianbei similar to the Tuoba, Khitan, Tuyuhun and Shiwei (Mongols). Some Rouran nobility were Buddhists. The wolf at the top of the stele reflects the Turks' belief in their origin from a wolf like the Mongols. The vertical orientation of the inscriptions and the turtle base reflects cultural influence from China. The Inscription of Hüis Tolgoi is another inscription found in Mongolia, dated to 604 to 620 CE, with a Brahmi Mongolic text.

Sogdian inscription

Rubbing of the Sogdian text of the Bugut inscription

The Sogdian inscription has the following text:

(Left Side)('mwh?) [...] (pt)s'kh 'ws't ?'r'nt tr'wkt c(yn)st'n kwt(s)'tt 'ywn'k ('YK) [lacuna of some 15 letters] (ZK?)trwkc y nw''r ?'?'n 'wskwp'r ckn'cw m?'n (tykyn pr)[w] (?'?'n wy'k) w'(?)t '(X)RZY nwkr ZK y mw?'n ?'?'n 'PZY y m?'n tyky(n) [lacuna of 5-6 letters, perhaps cyw'nt?] py?trw?) k'w 'wrts'r prm prw 'n?t'k '?c'np? 'sw?wyn'tt wm'[t'nt] [lacuna of some 25 letters] (t 'XRYZ n)wkr cyw'nt py?trw y m[w?'n ?'?'n](Front Side) [lacuna of 35-40 letters] (w) k'w y s'r pwrsty rty nw(k)r (k..) [...] [lacuna of 30-35 letters] ('YK?) ?'?pyt tr?w'nt ?wr?'p(')ynt tw?wnt s(nk) [wnt][lacuna of 10-12 letters] (t rty py?t)rw (....t?) [8-10 letters] y tw' ?wy?tr 'XY mw?'n ?'?'n pr'yt rty (...) [lacuna of some 15 letters] K(S)Pw ('n) [?] (?)t ?'r[t rty n'?] (cy)h ?yr'k p'rtw ?'rt rty ms 'k?ry t?w y m?'[n](tyk)[yn] ?[?ywny...] (...)?(.....) rty [about 8 letters] (?'rt rty) 'pw 'n?wncy? ywny n'?(c)yh p'r rty nw(k)(y m?'n ty)[kyn lacuna of some 25 letters s](?)wn pt?w?tw ?'rt rty ?r?w?k sr?y (.)[...](.w'?t?)(w?w?w ?) sr? ()y(wny.) [lacuna of some 15 letters, y t'sp'r] (?'?'n) k'w y?t s'r pwrst rty py?trw ?'?pyt tr?w['nt]?wr?'p'ynt (snk)[wnt] (tw?)[w]nt ('PZY) [...](.n) [read [?'?]('n)?] wk[wrtpt](s)dtw ?'rnt rty nwkr wmyn[/i] [so instead of y ?wmyn] ?'?'n p'?y (s'r) [....](?'rt kt?) [....]t rty [y ?wmyn] (yn ?' ?'n) pr(m)'t ?'rt (k)t'y? ' t'sp'r ?' ?'n wsn RBk(')[lacuna, some 20 letters] (.t) [...] (..)rt(y) [w'n'w?] pr(m)'tw ?'rt RBkw nw(h) snk' 'wast rty 'YK nw(k) [r][lacuna, some 20 letters] (.np? ?) [lacuna, about 8 letters] rty ' [instead of y] t'(sp'r) ?'?'n tr('?)t 'cw npy?nt cw krnw('ncy'k?)[h][lacuna, some 40 letters] (...)cw ?wr?(')p'ynt cwty wkwrt cw n'?cy'kh '(st't?)[lacuna, some 40 letters] (y) ?'r'k 'sp'?y'n (wr'yt) 'yt my? 'nt ?'r'nt [lacuna, some 40 letters] (s?wn) pt?w?tw ?'r'nt rty cyw'nt py?trw [...] [lacuna, some 40 letters] (...tw) ?'rt (....t) rty c'n'w ?w' ywnk [lacuna, some 40 letters] (...tw) ?'r'nt rty (...) ?yr'k ?rtp? m'tnt rty [lacuna, some 40 letters] (...n'?cy'kh ?....) p(ts?t'k ?) 'sp'? m(...) [lacuna, some 40 letters] (...wy?krtw ?) ?'r'nt (...)[lacuna, some 40 letters] (...)?w' ?yr?w(?tt)w m'(t)['nt] (Right Side) [lacuna, some 40 letters] (.k?) ?yr'k krt(k) ['krtw?] ?'rt rt[y...]

[lacuna, some 40 letters] (s)?tw (?'r'nt) ?yr'k (?y)r'k krtk ''?ry(t) [?'r'nt ?] [lacuna, some 40 letters] (....'cw ?) [n'?](c)yh mrt(?m)'k 'st't 'XRYZ (ym)[?'n tykyn?] [lacuna, some 40 letters] ('XRZY y ?) [...](?)t (nws) ['ws, nw? or ny? ?] (.)wk' [(p)wk' or (')wk/' ?] tr?w'n 'YK (m)?(') [n tykn] [illegible traces of letters].[3]

This was translated into English by Sergej G. Klja?tornyj and Vladimir A. Liv?ic:

(Left Side) This stele was erected by the Turks (under) Kwts'tt the ruler of China when ... ... the Turkish lord Nivar-qaghan. Since Mahan- -tegin ascended the place of qaghan, the lord Muhan-qaghan and the lord Mahan-tegin after [that they] were saviours for the whole world during a long period [lit. after that and in the future] ... ... ... And now thereupon, after this, the lord M[uhan-qaghan] (Front Side) [... died. And ...] asks the God, and then ... ... ... When (?)?adapït(s), tarkhwans, qurqapïns, tuduns, säng[üns] [approved (?)] and after that [thus addressed him]: 'Your elder brother Muhan-qaghan died. And ... ... [he well (?)] distributed the money [and] well fed [the peo]ple. And thus now you, lord Maha[n]- -tegin, ........., and feed the people without such a ruler!' And now the lord Mahan-te[gin ....], he listened to this words and in the Hare year ... ascended (?) six(?) years he ruled [.... The lord Taspar (?)]-qaghan asked the gods. And then ?adapïts, tarkhw[ans] qurqapïns, sängüns, tuduns, the kinsmen (of the qaghan) approved. And then he addressed the adobe of the lord Bumïn-qaghan thus: '[show!]'. And the lord Bumïn-qaghan ordered: 'Oh lord, Taspar-qaghan! You must ... for the sake of the great [.....] and he ordered: 'Establish a great new samgha!' And then when [.....] and the lord Taspar-qaghan was distressed, [whether there was] anybody of the grandsons who [had] the ability (?) [.....] ... is there anybody of the qurqapïns, of the kinsmen, of the people ... and equestarian warrior(s) thus distributed the prey(?) [....] they heard [these] words and after this [...] [....] he ..... And as the two rulers [.....] they ... and ... they were full of knowledge and [...] the people(?) ... an equipped (?) army ..... [.....] they conquered (?) ..... [.....] they were friends (Right Side) [.....] he accomplished many good deeds. And .....[.....] they approved, 'very (or: many) good deeds' - they praised [.....] is there any such man among the people [who would be able ...?]. And the lord M[ahan-tegin ?] .[.....] And the lord (?) ... (.)uka-tarkhwan, when Maha[n-tegin] [illegible traces of letters].[3]

Brahmi Mongolic inscription

Brahmi Mongolic original:
...Tadpar Mugan qagan sa-nam cig-du
...++bi++tu Tadpar qa cog-nar oro-ga-ju++
...dig-n qa-n herte ku++ quri-r ndu-ti-ju qapa bar-ju gele-lupe-r ku
...+cu-d-par dar-p-ta taga ayu-?-?C-cu
...+++gacar haru tar-ju jar-n++
...purupu tal-u-ja-r/ju Asvar-un ordu-da
...-tu++ -un jar-va-r janti-ju
...qa-d habv-ca xa+ mede-ju++++
...-nar puneken puker-ner Tadpar tala-
...-quy nabu-d botugna-s qoniy ire-y
...qagan-u +-gtir jalva-y Tadpar +?
...-ciliA-at ken hirge-c ...
...para-n qora-pi kebir qajar-a (?)
...ol-ga-ba ku ceker-de a-qsa +
...+ -tu + kuju-tu ken-u gar-par
...++-la kobe'u-d gele-run da+hig
...+-d-un teme ingi-ner aci-sar-ju
...+++bule-ku-per qa-d qagan
...Completely eroded
English translation (tentative):
...when Tadpar and Mugan qagans resided [together]
...Tadpar qagan made the nobles enter, and
...the qagan, who passed away, earlier...creating gathering with all [their] strength shut [themselves] in and talked
...when the enemies were defeated by members, [they] were afraid and
...hurried to scatter in the back of the land...
...the fact that they heavily plundered together and at Isbara's camp
...with [he?] hit the messengers of X-GEN
...taking princes...knowing...
...Tadpar will capture X-PLUR, foxes and oxen
...nabu, camel calves and sheep, which...came and
...connecting to qagan's X, Tadpar...
...after making N into V, who from the people...
...people...poison at the steppe lands
...were made to receive...and were empty...
...by...by whose strong hands
...do X! As sons said...
...loading mail and female camels of X-PLUR and
...by the churning, princes [and] qagan
...Completely eroded

This is Alexander Vovin's tentative translation.[4]


  1. ^ Vovin, Alexander. "A Sketch of the Earliest Mongolic Languages: the Brahmi Bugut and Khuis Tolgoi Inscriptions". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ " ? ? ?". mongoltoli.mn. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ a b "The Bugut Inscription | Steppe History Forum". steppes.proboards.com. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Vovin, Alexander. "A Sketch of the Earliest Mongolic Languages: the Brahmi Bugut and Khuis Tolgoi Inscriptions". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2019.

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