The Bulgar calendar was a solar calendar system used by the Bulgars, originally from Central Asia, who from the 4th century onwards dwelt in the Eurasian steppes north of the Caucasus and around the banks of river Volga. In 681, part of the Bulgars settled in the Balkan peninsula and established First Bulgarian Empire. The main source of information used for reconstruction of the Bulgar calendar is a short 15th century transcript in Church Slavonic called Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans,[1] which contains 10 pairs of calendar terms. Additionally, the same dating system is used in a marginal note in a manuscript by 10th century monk Tudor Doksov and in the Chatalar Inscription by the 9th-century Bulgaria ruler Omurtag (r. 814-831), who also provides the Byzantine imperial dating equivalent (the indiction). According to the reconstructed calendar, the Bulgars used a 12-year cyclic calendar similar to the one adopted by Turkic peoples from the Chinese calendar, with names and numbers that are deciphered as in Bulgar language.[2] The reading, along with the "cyclic calendar" interpretation itself, was originally proposed by Finnish Slavist Jooseppi Julius Mikkola in 1913. Later, there have been various modifications and elaborations during the 20th century by scholars such as Géza Fehér, Omeljan Pritsak, Mosko Moskov and other scientists.[3]

Reconstructions vary slightly, because some of the names are unattested, and the exact form of a few is debatable. The following list is based on Mosko Moskov's and description of the average mainstream interpretation, as well as his own reconstruction, and takes into account the existing disagreements:[4]


Number Animal In Bulgar
1 Mouse Somor
2 Ox Shegor
3 Uncertain, probably Tiger / Wolf Ver?
4 Rabbit Dvan[sh]
5 Uncertain, probably Dragon Ver[eni]?
6 Snake Dilom
7 Horse Imen[shegor]?
8 Ram Teku[chitem]?
9 Unattested, probably Monkey
10 Hen or Rooster Toh
11 Dog Eth
12 Boar Dohs

Comparison with Turkic calendars

The following comparison table was made based on Omeljan Pritsak's analysis.[5]

Year Bulgar
Old Turkic
(7 – 8 century)
(13 – 17 century)
Turkmen Bashkir Kazakh Khakaski Teleut
Mouse Somor,
(čomor) [6]
küskü сычқан сысҡан тышқан кÿске қойон
Ox Shegor,
σιγορ [7]
ud сығыр һыйыр
сиыр інек улу
Uncertain, probably Tiger / Wolf Ver/Vereni,
Vereni [8]
bars (перс.) bars (перс.) барс,
пәләң (перс.)
барыс барыс тÿлгÿ
Rabbit Dvan
(davlan) [9]
tabïšɣan tavïšɣan таушқан ҡуян қоян хозан ат
Dragon lüi/lü (кит.) luu (кит.) лу балық луу лув килескі
Snake Dilom
yïlan yïlan йылан илан жылан чылан мечин
Horse Ima[11]
йылқы илҡы жылқы чылғы ит
Ram Teku,

Teke [12]

qony qoin қой ҡой қой хой қақай
„Boar“ (mong.)
Monkey bičin bičin биҗин мишин маймыл,
Rooster Toh (čux) [13] takïɣu takïɣu тауқ тауыҡ тауық таңах тақаа
„Rooster“ (mong.)
Dog Eth [14] it it ит эт ит турна
Boar Dohs
(čočka) [15]
laɣzïn (?) toŋuz тоңуз доңгыз қара кейік öскі

References and notes

  1. ^ "dtrif/abv: Name list of Bulgarian hans". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  2. ^ Образуване на българската държава. проф. Петър Петров (Издателство Наука и изкуство, София, 1981) стр. 171.
  3. ^ Zlatarski, Vasil. 1918. Istoriya na balgarskata darzhava prez srednite vekove. Balgarsko letobroene (in Bulgarian).
  4. ^ Именник на българските ханове – ново тълкуване. М.Москов. С. 1988 г. § 80,70
  5. ^ Die bulgarische Fürstenliste und die Sprache der Protobulgaren. Otto Harrassowitz-Wiesbaden, 1955.
  6. ^ Corresponds to tat. "jomran" "settled" from the Turkic root "jomra" -
  7. ^ Съответства на турската дума sığır „говедо“.
  8. ^ According to Pritsak (cit. lit.) it corresponds to Proto-Turkic. börü 'wolf', taken in mar. "puree", sensed. "biræg". But comparing the name of the year from the teleutic cycle circle, we see that "vereni" may be the tabu name for "dragon" = "rope" and be compared with chuv. "faithful", Old Turkic. örgen 'rope'.(Мудрак, цит. лит.)
  9. ^ Proto Bulgar. davlan Corresponds to the Lambdaism rule of Old Turkic. tabïšɣan.
  10. ^ Corresponds to hearing. çĕlĕn, Old Turkic. yïlan "snake".
  11. ^ According to Pritsak (cit. lit.) this word is borrowed in mar. imne 'horse', deriving them from Old Turkic. emlik at - "unridden horse, colt", but later took on the meaning of "horse". Mar. "imne" is probably borrowed from Hmong. – see Fassmer (cit. lit.) under "imnyushka". See Beshevliev for the opinion that "ima" is Old Bulgarian. adj. place for a binary number.
  12. ^ Corresponds to hearing. "so" "ram", Old Turkic. teke "goat".
  13. ^ Corresponds to hearing. čăhă, Old Turkic. takïɣu hen < diakïɣu. Employed in ung. tyúk.
  14. ^ Corresponds to hearing. yită, Old Turkic. it "dog".
  15. ^ Corresponds to tat. "chucka" "pig".