Stone People, Tree People and Animal People in Turkic Asia and Eastern Europe

Diogenes 52 (3):35-46 (2005)


Some religious groups and trends of thought in the Turkic world, in Asia and Europe, have for several centuries nurtured an unusual vision of nature in which old animistic and shamanistic beliefs, and even nomads’ Buddhist beliefs, are combined with Arab philosophy stemming from Neo-Platonism and Muslim mysticism (Sufism). This vision, which in fact is not homogeneous since it exists in several variants, claims that all animate and inanimate creatures - humans, animals, plants and stones - are receptacles of the same ‘vital energy’ and are consequently intimately bound up with one another, and may even migrate towards each of their respective modes of being, animal, plant or mineral; hence the existence of stone people, tree people and animal people. This article aims to trace the origins of this vision of nature and look at its current influence, paying particular attention to the ‘ethics of the environment’ (çevre ahlakï) it has inspired in recent years in Turkey

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