Okunev Petroglyphs And Eurasian Solar Deities

Okunev Petroglyphs And Eurasian Solar Deities

Okunev Culture, one of the Southern Siberian archaeological cultures, took place in Khakasia and its surrounding lands, which are now part of the Russian Federation. The roots of the Okunev Culture date back to the end of the 3rd millennium BC. People in this culture made a living by hunting and lake fishing. Anthropological remains prove that most Okunev people had Mongoloid features, but Caucasoid features have also been found. 1

There are artistically interesting figures in the archaeological remains and steles from the Okunev Culture. Spirit-like abstract drawings, shamanic symbols, fantastic animals, cosmological signs, and anthropomorphic deities are the most common figures.

A stele from the Okunev Culture. It is thought that the drawing on the stele is a kind of Sun goddess.

Sun-headed zoomorphic or anthropomorphic drawings have also been found outside the Okunev cultural geography and in later times. (Saimaluu Tash Petroglyphs in Kyrgyzstan and Tamgaly-Tas Petroglyphs in Kazakhstan)

Solar Deities

The Sun was highly respected in the Turkic communities that dominated the Okunev cultural geography and the Eurasian steppes. Turkish writer Doğan Avcıoğlu wrote that the Hun emperors worshiped the Sun every morning. 2

The Sun, which is generally described with feminine features such as life, health or fertility, is deified with Gün Ana and Kuyaş in the Turkish pantheon.

In Turkic mythology, Gün Ana is the name of the sun goddess. She sits on the seventh floor of the sky. Her equivalent in Hungarian mythology is Nap Anya.

The name of the sun god in Turkic mythology is Kuyaş (also known as Gün Ata). He is the son of the creator god Kayra Han and the brother of Ülgen. Ülgen is a kind of creator god, too. However, he represents the benevolent and humane side of Kayra Han, the main creator god. Ülgen is also often depicted with the Sun and the light. He sits on the 16th floor of the sky. According to Altai shaman legends, it was Ülgen who taught people how to make fire. The term “creator of the sun” is often used for Ülgen in shamanic prayers. 3

God drawings shining like the sun have been found in many civilizations. One of the most important deities of Slavic mythology, Dazhbog is often depicted with a shining sun on the back of his head. Saulė, the sun goddess from Baltic mythology, is also often depicted with a shining sun on the back of his head, or with sun-like blond hair.

Saulė idol found in the village of Palūšė in Lithuania.

The sun goddess Sól (also known as Sunna) in Germanic myths is also depicted in similar ways to the gods mentioned above. Sól is also the brother of the moon god Máni. According to Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, Sól and Máni are Mundilfari’s children. 4

A depiction of Máni and Sól, created by Danish illustrator Lorenz Frølich.

The name of the sun goddess in Sámi myths, a people of Finno-Ugric origin, is Beaivi. The Sun is more important to the Sámi people living in northern Scandinavia than to other communities. Some days during the winter the Sun does not rise at all, as part of this region lies within the Arctic Circle. This makes the sun goddess more important. That’s why some days in the past reindeer were sacrificed in the name of Beaivi.

Sami shaman drum. The cross in the middle of the drum symbolizes the Sun.

It should be noted that Beaivi is depicted as a god, not a goddess in some myths. 5

Päivätär in Finnish mythology, Usil in Etruscan mythology, Helios in Greek mythology and Amaterasu in Japanese mythology are other important solar-deities in Eurasia.


  1. Андрей Викторович ГРОМОВ – Происхождение и связи населения окуневской культуры^
  2. Doğan AVCIOĞLU, Türklerin Tarihi, ISBN: 9789754780208^
  3. Abdülkadir İNAN, Eski Türk Dini Tarihi, ISBN: ‎9786056600975^
  4. Poetic Edda – Prose Edda^
  5. Lite Om Samisk Förkristen Religion^