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Buddhist Turks

Ricardolindo

Active member
Location
Portugal
#1
This is a fairly neglected point of divergence. Had Islam never existed, Central Asia would be predominantly Buddhist. What would the effects of Buddhist Turks be? Would some of them still have migrated to Anatolia? If so, how would the Byzantines deal with them?
 

d32123

פּאַרטיזאַנער
Location
Seattle
Pronouns
he/him
#2
I don't necessarily think the Turks would become/stay Buddhist since they'd have so much contact with the Christian and Zoroastrian world. Central Asia was already moving out of the Chinese orbit and towards the Middle East.
 
#3
I don't necessarily think the Turks would become/stay Buddhist since they'd have so much contact with the Christian and Zoroastrian world. Central Asia was already moving out of the Chinese orbit and towards the Middle East.
Definitely - the Church of the East was making huge inroads into Central Asia, and I would expect that also to be the case ITTL. Christianity, therefore, would have Persian-Nestorian elements here, with Baghdad as its major center, as well as part of a wider Asian world even stretching as far east as China (extra bonus points if the Church of the East remains the representation of Christianity in China and, like Buddhism, survived the ban on foreign religions) and as far south as India. As far as Oghuz Turks go, Christianity would continue to have a native Turkic substrate, and would only really have a go towards Anatolia if the Persians used Turkic peoples as soldiers, much like OTL after the conversion to Islam. Thus, what we would have - if they did migrate towards Anatolia - is an encounter of two very different Christianities, a Turco-Persian Nestorianism on one hand and a Greek Orthodox Chalcedonianism. Ideally, the ERE would like it if the Turks migrated away from what Constantinople would definitely as heretical and heterodox ideas and beliefs and conform towards the beliefs and teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church. In actuality, it would probably not be as clear-cut as that.
 

Ricardolindo

Active member
Location
Portugal
#4
I don't necessarily think the Turks would become/stay Buddhist since they'd have so much contact with the Christian and Zoroastrian world. Central Asia was already moving out of the Chinese orbit and towards the Middle East.
Definitely - the Church of the East was making huge inroads into Central Asia, and I would expect that also to be the case ITTL. Christianity, therefore, would have Persian-Nestorian elements here, with Baghdad as its major center, as well as part of a wider Asian world even stretching as far east as China (extra bonus points if the Church of the East remains the representation of Christianity in China and, like Buddhism, survived the ban on foreign religions) and as far south as India. As far as Oghuz Turks go, Christianity would continue to have a native Turkic substrate, and would only really have a go towards Anatolia if the Persians used Turkic peoples as soldiers, much like OTL after the conversion to Islam. Thus, what we would have - if they did migrate towards Anatolia - is an encounter of two very different Christianities, a Turco-Persian Nestorianism on one hand and a Greek Orthodox Chalcedonianism. Ideally, the ERE would like it if the Turks migrated away from what Constantinople would definitely as heretical and heterodox ideas and beliefs and conform towards the beliefs and teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church. In actuality, it would probably not be as clear-cut as that.
In our timeline, Zoroastrianism had a very hard time with steppe nomads. I don't think the Turks would convert to it.
As for Nestorian Christianity, it would be significant but I don't see it becoming a majority, because of its lack of a source of missionaries.
Meanwhile, Buddhism has neighboring South Asia as a source of missionaries.
That being said, I could see a group of Turks that migrated out of Central Asia converting to some other religion.
 

Japhy

AHOAAB
Published by SLP
Location
Albany, NY
Pronouns
He/Him
#5
In our timeline, Zoroastrianism had a very hard time with steppe nomads. I don't think the Turks would convert to it.
As for Nestorian Christianity, it would be significant but I don't see it becoming a majority, because of its lack of a source of missionaries.
Meanwhile, Buddhism has neighboring South Asia as a source of missionaries.
That being said, I could see a group of Turks that migrated out of Central Asia converting to some other religion.
They did fine among the Mongols so I don't see this at all.
 
Pronouns
he/him
#7
Manichaeism was also prevalent in Central Asia. Samarkand was a major Manichaean centre, even eclipsing Ctesiphon/Baghdad as time went on. The Uyghur Khaganate converted to Manichaeism in the VIII century.

I see Central Asia remaining a land of diverse religions without the rise of Islam. Manichaeism, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Tengriism would be the predominant religions which would exist alongside minority communities of Jews (see Bukharan Jews) and Zoroastrians.
 

Nyvis

Well-known member
Location
Paris
Pronouns
She/Her
#8
Manichaeism was also prevalent in Central Asia. Samarkand was a major Manichaean centre, even eclipsing Ctesiphon/Baghdad as time went on. The Uyghur Khaganate converted to Manichaeism in the VIII century.

I see Central Asia remaining a land of diverse religions without the rise of Islam. Manichaeism, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Tengriism would be the predominant religions which would exist alongside minority communities of Jews (see Bukharan Jews) and Zoroastrians.
Without central authorities codifying those religions, I expect you'd also see a lot of syncretism between them, to the point it could easily form a single religious ecosystem to an outside perspective, rather than coherent competing faiths.