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Erlik, also known as Erlig or Erlik Khan, is the god of death in the mythology of the Mongolian and Siberian peoples. As the creation and former protégé of the creator god Ulgan, he was cast out of the mortal realm after he betrayed Ulgan and attempted to tempt humanity into sinning, and now presides over the damned. In most mythologies, Erlik is portrayed as a Satan-like figure, although he is more benevolent in the mythology of the Altai-Sayan people whilst still retaining his role as the Devil.

Mythology

Yakut Mythology

When the world was simply mud, the creator god Ulgan made a man from the mud and named him Erlik. Both Erlik and Ulgan had the ability to shapeshift, and took the form of birds to fly around the endless mud looking for land. Once, Erlik crashed into the mud, and Ulgan ordered him to dive and bring mud up from the bottom so that he could form land. Erlik did so repeatedly, each time keeping some mud in his beak so that he could create a world. However, in order to create land, Ulgan ordered the mud to expand, causing the mud in Erlik's mouth to grow and nearly suffocate him, forcing him to spit it out.

After forming land and sea, Ulgan made humans out of mud, and set a dog to guard them. However, Erlik gave the dog a fur coat to make it look the other way, before breathing life into the humans and attempting to make them eat the forbidden fruit. Ulgan, infuriated that Erlik had attempted to become humanity's god in this way, banished him from the mortal plane. Erlik then became the god of the Underworld, and created evil spirits which fetch the souls of the dead and bring them to the Underworld to be tortured. This version of Erlik is the most like Satan from the Bible.

Turkic Mythology

Erlik was the first creation of Ulgan, before he made the world. He envied Ulgan and planned to make his own world, sinning against Ulgan and being disfigured and imprisoned on the 7th layer of Earth, the Underworld. He vowed to revenge himself on Ulgan, and created evil spirits to take humans down to the Underworld and tempt humans into worshipping him instead of Ulgan. Whenever a plague struck, the Turkic peoples would sacrifice animals to Erlik to make it go away.

Buryat Mythology

Erlik was created by Ulgan, and blew life into humanity. However, he incurred Ulgan's wrath by slaying the messenger god Maidere, and was banished to the Underworld. Seeking revenge against Ulgan for his banishment, he created evil spirits to teach humans sin, which would allow him to claim their souls when they died and torture them in his realm for all eternity.

Altai-Sayan Mythology

In the stories of the Siberian Altai-Sayan people, Erlik, as mentioned before, is more benevolent than in other mythologies. Erlik blew the soul into humanity when Ulgan created them. After the birth of humanity, Ulgan became the god of Heaven, and Erlik was appointed as the Judge of the Dead, sending those who lead good lives to paradise and those who sinned to the Underworld.

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