The Turul is probably based on a large falcon, and the origin of the word is most likely Turkic: togrıl or turgul means a medium to large bird of prey of the family Accipitridae, goshawk or red kite. In Hungarian the word sólyom means falcon, and there are three ancient words describing different kinds of falcons: kerecsen (saker falcon), zongor [Turkish sungur = gyrfalcon] (which survives in the male name Zsombor) and turul.
In the legend of Emese, recorded in the Gesta Hungarorum and the Chronicon Pictum, the turul is mentioned as occurring in a dream of Emese, when she was already pregnant. In older literature, this was interpreted as "impregnation", but the text is clear. the Turul's role is one of a protector spirit, that protects the little baby Álmos, from harm. In a second dream by the leader of the Hungarian tribes, in which eagles (the emblem of the Pechenegs) attacked their horses and a Turul came and saved them.
There were 3 large Turul statues, each with a wingspan of 15 metres, in Greater Hungary (before the country had its borders reconfigured by the Treaty of Trianon). The last of the three stands on a mountain near Tatabánya, Hungary, but the other two were destroyed. It is the largest bird statue in Europe, and the largest bronze statue in Central Europe. There remain 195 Turul statues in Hungary, as well as 48 in Romania (32 in Transylvania and 16 in Partium), 8 in Slovakia, 7 in Serbia, 5 in Ukraine, 1 in Austria. And one more as of 29 September 2012, St. Michael the Archangel's Day erected in Hungary's Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park
Some of the Kingdom of Hungary postage stamps issued after 1900 feature Turuls.
- "Great Turkish Dictionary". Turkish Language Association. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
- Chronicon Pictum, Gesta Hungarorum.[clarification needed] Arnold Ipolyi, "Magyar mitológia" (Hungarian Mythology) 1854; Gáspár Heltai, Hungarian Mythology. "[...] the hawk or turul, which in shamanistic lore rested upon the tree of life connecting the earth with the netherworld and the skies, persevered for longer [than other clan totems] as a device belonging to the ruling house. But even this was soon eclipsed by the symbol of the double cros and, around 1200, by the striped shield coloured in the ed and white of Christ's Passion." Martyn C. Rady, Nobility, land and service in medieval Hungary, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, p.12
- "Magyar Néprajzi Lexikon: Emese". mek.oszk.hu. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- For further details (in Hungarian): György Szabados (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, History Department): Attila-ős, a sólyomforma madár és a fehér elefánt. http://www.arpad.btk.mta.hu/images/e-konyvtar/Szabados_Gyrgy_Attila-s_a_slyomforma_madr_s_a_fehr_elefnt.pdf
- Tom Warhol, Birdwatcher's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Advice, Insight, and Information for Enthusiastic Birders, Marcus Schneck, Quarry Books, 2010, p. 158
- István Dienes, The Hungarians cross the Carpathians, Corvina Press, 1972, p. 71