The Turul is a mythological bird of prey, mostly depicted as a falcon, in Hungarian tradition and Turkic tradition, and a national symbol of Hungarians.

Turul bird on the Royal Castle, Budapest, Hungary



The Turul is probably based on a large falcon. The Hungarian language word turul meant one kind of falcon and the origin of the word is currently thought to be most likely Turkic (Clauson 1972: 472.[1]) (Róna-Tas et al. 2011:2: 954-56)[2]), which is the language of origin of over 10% of words in modern Hungarian lexicon and the exonym "Hungarian" and the word "Hun".[a] Toġrïl or toğrul means a medium to large bird of prey of the family Accipitridae, goshawk or red kite.[10] In Hungarian the word sólyom means falcon, and there are three ancient words describing different kinds of falcons: kerecsen [Greek κερχνηίς] (saker falcon), zongor [Turkish sungur = gyrfalcon] (which survives in the male name Csongor) 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.[11] In older literature, this was interpreted as "impregnation", but the text is clear.[12] The Turul's role is one of a protector spirit, that protects the infant Álmos, from harm. This is a very similar motif to the role of the Simurgh in the Iranian epic Shahnameh. In a second dream by the leader of the Hungarian tribes, in which eagles (the emblem of the Pechenegs, enemies of the Hungarians[citation needed]) attacked their horses and the Turul came and saved them. The image of the Turul and its role is similar to that of the Norse Vedfolnir, which like it perched on the tree of life.[13][b] The Huns reportedly also used the image of the eagle, which for them symbolized the leader.[14] The image of a bird of prey was extremely popular in Saka-Scythian culture.[15] More broadly, this image was common among the nomads of Central Asia.[15] Rather than belonging to a specific ethnic group, it was widespread across the steppe, and the union of a falcon and a woman is "firmly located in a shamanic religio-mythical universe."[13] A prominent example among similar legends is that of the Mongols, contained in The Secret History of the Mongols, where Genghis Khan's mother-in-law dreams that an eagle holding the sun and the moon in its claws lands on her hand, in anticipation of the birth of the Mongolian royal dynasty.[13] In some parts of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz carry falcons inside the yurt during childbirth, because their eyes are said to stave off demons that attack pregnant women during childbirth.[13] Macdonald calls it a "practical use" of the falcons' association with fertility.[13]

A pair of silver disk with Turul motive was found in Rakamaz, Hungary from a 10th century Hungarian cemetery. The most beautiful ornament of noble Hungarian women was a pair of decorative disks hanging from the end of the hair braid.

Turul dynasty


In Hungarian tradition, it originated as the clan symbol used in the 9th and 10th centuries by the ruling Árpád dynasty.[16] The Árpád dynasty was the ruling dynasty of the Principality of Hungary in the 9th and 10th centuries and of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1301. The Árpád dynasty is also referred to as the Turul dynasty.[17][18][19][20]

The Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum mentioned that the Árpád dynasty descended from the gens (clan) Turul,[17][21][22] and the Gesta Hungarorum recorded that the Árpád's totemic ancestor was the Turul.[23]

And among the captains, Árpád the son of Álmos, son of Előd, son of Ügyek, from the Turul clan, was richer in wealth and more powerful in war.

Duke Géza from the Turul clan was the one who, as they say, was the first among the Hungarians who got a summon from heaven in order to receive the Christian faith and baptism.

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.[11]

Emese, mother of Álmos

In the 819th year of Our Lord's incarnation, Ügyek, who, as we said above, being of the family of King Magog became a long time later the most noble prince of Scythia, took to wife in Dentumoger the daughter of Duke Eunedubelian, called Emese, from whom he sired a son, who was named Álmos. But he is called Álmos from a divine event, because when she was pregnant a divine vision appeared to his mother in a dream in the form of a falcon that, as if coming to her, impregnated her and made known to her that from her womb a torrent would come forth and from her loins glorious kings be generated, but that they would not increase in their land. Because, therefore, a dream is called "álom" in the Hungarian language and his birth was predicted in a dream, so he was called Álmos. Or he is thus called Álmos, that is holy, because holy kings and dukes were born of his line.

Ügyek's son Előd, fathered a son by the daughter of Eunodubilia in Scythian land, whose name was Álmos, because a bird in the shape of a falcon appeared in his mother's dream when she was pregnant, a rushing stream sprang from her womb, it grew, but not in its own land, and from this it was prophesied that glorious kings would come from her loins. Because dream is "álom" in our language, and the birth of that boy was prophesied by a dream, that's why he was called Álmos.

According to the Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum, King Attila had the Turul bird on his shield and it was the military badge of the Hungarians until the time of Prince Géza.

King Attila's coat of arms, which he used on his own shield, depicted a bird with a crown, which is called "Turul" in Hungarian. This coat of arms was carried by the Hungarians in the wars of the communities as long as the communities governed themselves, until the time of Prince Géza, the son of Taksony.

King Attila himself was feared by his own subjects because of his innate strictness and gloomy look, but he behaved with a noble spirit towards the peoples subject to him. As a military insignia, a crowned falcon was painted on both his shield and his flag. This military badge was worn by the Huns, namely the Hungarians, until the time of the son of Prince Taksony, Prince Géza. His title was like this: Attila son of Bendegúz, grandson of the great Nimrod who was raised in Engaddi, by the grace of God, King of the Huns, Medes, Goths and Danes, the Fear of the World, the Scourge of God.

Coat of arms of Transylvania


The first heraldic representations of Transylvania date from the 16th century. The Diet of 1659 codified the representation of the Union of the Three Nations in Transylvania's coat of arms. It depicted a black eagle, a Turul on a blue background, representing the Hungarians, the Sun and the Moon representing the Székelys, and seven red towers on a yellow background representing the seven fortified cities of the Transylvanian Saxons.[31] The flag and coat of arms of Transylvania were granted by Queen Maria Theresa in 1765, when she established a Grand Principality within the Habsburg monarchy.

Modern use

Kingdom of Hungary first issue (1900) with image of Turul

The Turul is used as in the design of coats of arms of the Hungarian Defence Forces, the Counter Terrorism Centre and the Office of National Security.[32][33][34] The central element of the emblem of the Hungarian Defence Forces is the Turul bird with extended wings holding the sword of King Saint Stephen in its claws.[32]

There were 3 large Turul statues, each with a wingspan of 15 metres, in Kingdom of 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.[35] There remain at least 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 1 in Croatia. One of the most recently erected, as of 29 September 2012, on St Michael the Archangel's Day, is in Hungary's Ópusztaszer National Heritage Park.[36]

Some of the Kingdom of Hungary postage stamps issued after 1900 feature the Turul.


See also



  1. ^ Clauson, Sir Gerard. 1972. An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth Century Turkish. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  2. ^ Róna-Tas, András, Árpád Berta, with the assistance of László Károly (eds). 2011. West Old Turkic, I-II. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  3. ^ Gy Ránki, György Ránki, ed. (1984). Hungarian History--world History. Akadémiai K VIII. p. 10. ISBN 978-963-05-3997-5.
  4. ^ Pop, Ioan Aurel; Csorvási, Veronica (1996). Romanians and Hungarians from the 9th to the 14th Century The Genesis of the Transylvanian Medieval State. Fundația Culturală Română; Centrul de Studii Transilvane. p. 62. ISBN 978-973-577-037-2. The majority of the Hungarian tribe names were of Turkic origin and signified, in many cases, a certain rank.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Romilly James Heald (1967). De Administrando Imperio by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. Corpus fontium historiae Byzantinae (New, revised ed.). Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-88402-021-9. Retrieved 28 August 2013. According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, writing in his De Administrando Imperio (c. AD 950), "Patzinakia, the Pecheneg realm, stretches west as far as the Siret River (or even the Eastern Carpathian Mountains), and is four days distant from Tourkia (i.e. Hungary)."
  6. ^ Günter Prinzing; Maciej Salamon (1999). Byzanz und Ostmitteleuropa 950-1453: Beiträge zu einer table-ronde des XIX. International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Copenhagen 1996. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 46. ISBN 978-3-447-04146-1. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  7. ^ Henry Hoyle Howorth (2008). History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th Century: The So-called Tartars of Russia and Central Asia. Cosimo, Inc. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-60520-134-4. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  8. ^ Köpeczi, Béla; Makkai, László; Mócsy, András; Kiralý, Béla K.; Kovrig, Bennett; Szász, Zoltán; Barta, Gábor (2001). Transylvania in the medieval Hungarian kingdom (896-1526) (Volume 1 of History of Transylvania ed.). New York: Social Science Monographs, University of Michigan, Columbia University Press, East European Monographs. pp. 415–416. ISBN 0-88033-479-7.
  10. ^ "Great Turkish Dictionary". Turkish Language Association. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Magyar Néprajzi Lexikon: Emese". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  12. ^ For further details: Szabados, György. "Attila-ős, a sólyomforma madár és a fehér elefánt" (PDF) (in Hungarian). Hungarian Academy of Sciences, History Department.
  13. ^ a b c d e Macdonald, Helen (2016). Falcon. Reaktion Books. p. Contents - Mythical falcons. ISBN 978-1-78023-689-6.
  14. ^ "Birds in Culture". Bird Spot. 8 November 2020.
  15. ^ a b Abdesh Toleubayev; Rinat Zhumatayev; Dina Baimuhamedova (2014). "Image of an Eagle in the Art of Early Nomads". Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 122. Elsevier: 240-244 (1-5). doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1335.
  16. ^ 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 cross and, around 1200, by the striped shield coloured in the red and white of Christ's Passion." Martyn C. Rady, Nobility, land and service in medieval Hungary, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, p.12
  17. ^ a b Horváth-Lugossy, Gábor; Makoldi, Miklós; Neparáczki, Endre (2022). Kings and Saints - The Age of the Árpáds (PDF). Budapest, Székesfehérvár: Institute of Hungarian Research. ISBN 978-615-6117-65-6.
  18. ^ Dümmerth, Dezső (1996). Az Árpádok nyomában [Following the Árpáds] (5th ed.). Junior. ISBN 963-388-154-4.
  19. ^ Dr. Horváth-Lugossy, Gábor (2022). "Feltárulnak a Turul-dinasztia titkai (The secrets of the Turul dynasty are revealed)". Mandiner (in Hungarian).
  20. ^ Dr. Horváth-Lugossy, Gábor (2022). "Küldetésünk: a magyar történelem helyreigazítása". Institute of Hungarian Research.
  21. ^ Dr. Horváth-Lugossy, Gábor (2022). "Feltárulnak a Turul-dinasztia titkai (The secrets of the Turul dynasty are revealed)". Mandiner (in Hungarian).
  22. ^ Dr. Horváth-Lugossy, Gábor (2022). "Küldetésünk: a magyar történelem helyreigazítása". Institute of Hungarian Research.
  23. ^ Kristó 1994 Korai p. 693.
  24. ^ Simon of Kéza: Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum
  25. ^ Simon of Kéza: Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum
  26. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (chapter 3)
  27. ^ Mark of Kalt: Chronicon Pictum
  28. ^ Szabó, Géza (2021). "A nő ábrázolása a Nagyszentmiklósi kincs 2. korsóján - Értelmezési lehetőségek a kaukázusi régészeti és néprajzi párhuzamok, valamint az újabb kutatási eredmények alapján" [Representation of the woman on the 2nd jar of the Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós - Interpretation possibilities based on the archaeological and ethnographic parallels in the Caucasus, as well as the results of recent research] (PDF). A női dimenzió (in Hungarian). 1: 33–45. doi:10.55344/andfh.2101033. S2CID 246985982.
  29. ^ Simon of Kéza: Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum
  30. ^ Johannes Thuróczy: Chronica Hungarorum
  31. ^ Ströhl, Hugo Gerard (1890). Oesterreichish-Ungarische Wappenrolle (PDF). Vienna: Verlag vom Anton Schroll & Co. p. XV. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  32. ^ a b "Honvédelmi közlöny" [National defense bulletin] (PDF). Honvédelmi közlöny (in Hungarian) (Ministry of Hungarian Defence Forces): 1050–1051. 7 September 2021.
  33. ^ Tom Warhol, Birdwatcher's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Advice, Insight, and Information for Enthusiastic Birders, Marcus Schneck, Quarry Books, 2010, p. 158
  34. ^ István Dienes, The Hungarians cross the Carpathians, Corvina Press, 1972, p. 71
  35. ^ "Archived". Archived from the original on October 27, 2020.[dead link]
  36. ^ "Orbán: Új törvények világa közeledik". 29 September 2012.


  1. ^ The Magyars had an extensive Turkic genetic and cultural influence, which accounts for the Turkic contribution to their lexicon, and Byzantines authors (Constantine) even mistakenly referred to them as Turks. Many Hungarian names, and also animal and plant names,[3] are of Turkic origin. The majority of Hungarian tribal names were of Turkic origin.[4] However, in spite of all this influence, and although they were long in contact with them, the Magyars are not a Turkic people.[5][6][7][8][9]
  2. ^ The Veldfolnir actually perched on an unnamed eagle that itself perched on top of the world tree Yggdrasil