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Winged horse on the flag of Argayashsky District, an area with a predominant Bashkir population.

Tulpar is a legendary winged or celestial horse in Turkic mythology, akin to the Greek Pegasus. This mythical creature is prominently featured in the state emblems of Kazakhstan and Bashkortostan. The origins of Tulpar are intertwined with the hunting traditions of Central Asian peoples, who used horses in conjunction with birds of prey. Over time, these two animals merged in the human imagination, creating the winged horse known as Tulpar.

The wings of Tulpar were not necessarily for flight but symbolized its unparalleled speed. This mythical horse has been immortalized in various cultural symbols. For instance, the emblem of Kazakhstan includes two golden Tulpars, a yurt's top, and sun rays on a blue background symbolizing the sky where Tulpars gallop. Tulpar is deeply embedded in the cultural heritage of Turkic-speaking nations, including Turks, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz. The Heavenly Horse, known as Tulpar in Turkic mythology, embodies swiftness, elegance, and deep cultural significance.

The Emblem of Kazakhstan Featuring Two Golden Tulpars

Mythological Origins


According to ancient beliefs, the Heavenly Horse, or Tulpar, was a divine creature created by the gods. It was considered a winged horse, but its wings became invisible upon landing, making it appear as an ordinary horse. Legends describe the breeding of the Heavenly Horse in the picturesque Eurasian steppes, where a divine horse mated with local mares. The resulting offspring were large, beautifully built stallions known for their speed and endurance.

Cultural Significance

Ceremonial Gilt Bronze Finial Depicting a Standing Horse - Saka Culture, Tulpar Symbolism

The horse occupies a special place in the oral literature of the Kazakh people. Tulpar is a winged horse, one of the main motifs of Kazakh folklore. In the minds of the Turks, the cosmos was inhabited by mythical creatures, one of which was Tulpar. Tulpar is a collective image of a heavenly horse. Like a bird, it had wings and could be transported to any other place in an instant.

Winged horses, depicted in the art of ancient nomads, on metal jewelry of the Altai Sakas, on the famous Kargaly diadem, on the headdress of the Golden Man from the Issyk Mound, and on Scythian dishes, are now a distinctive sign of the coat of arms of the Republic of Kazakhstan. A notable artifact, a ceremonial gilt bronze finial depicting a standing horse, exemplifies Saka culture. This artifact displays the exquisite features of the Heavenly Horse, a Tulpar highlighting the cultural syncretism of that era.

The mythical Tulpar symbolizes the ideals of speed, elegance, and cultural depth. It represents not just physical prowess but also the rich tapestry of human imagination and cultural heritage that has shaped history. Tulpar embodies the attributes of swiftness, strength, and a profound cultural connection to its respective traditions. The enduring impact of these "heavenly" horses continues to be celebrated, reflecting their profound influence on history and culture.

See also



  • Rémy Dor, Contes Kirghiz de la steppe et de la montagne, Publications orientalistes de France, 1983, 166 p. (ISBN 9782716901666)
  • Gilles Veinstein, Les Ottomans et la mort, vol. 9 de Ottoman Empire and its heritage, BRILL, 1996, 324 p. (ISBN 9789004105058)
  • Hervé Beaumont, Asie centrale: Le guide des civilisations de la route de la soie, Éditions Marcus, 2008, 634 p. (ISBN 9782713102288)