List of the areas mentioned in the map as part of Turan: 1. Khwarezm
Balkh 3. Shehersebz (near Bukhara) 4. Hissar 5.
Khokand 6. Durwaz 7.
Iskardu 13.14. The northern steppes (Kazakhstan).
Turan (Persian: توران Tūrān, "the land of the Tur") is a region
in Central Asia. The term is of Iranian origin and may refer to a
particular prehistoric human settlement, a historic geographical
region, or a culture. The original Turanians were an Iranian
tribe of the Avestan age.
2.1 Ancient literature
2.1.2 Late Sassanid and early Islamic era
2.2 Modern literature
3 Family tree
5 Further reading
6 External links
In ancient Iranian mythology, Tūr or Turaj (Tuzh in Middle
Persian) is the son of the emperor Fereydun. According to the
account in the
Shahnameh the nomadic tribes who inhabited these lands
were ruled by Tūr. In that sense, the Turanians could be members of
Iranian peoples both descending from Fereydun, but with different
geographical domains and often at war with each other. Turan,
therefore, comprised five areas: the
Kopet Dag region, the Atrek
valley, the eastern
Alborz mountains, Helmand valley,
A later association of the original Turanians with
Turkic peoples is
based primarily on the subsequent
Turkification of Central Asia,
including the above areas. According to C. E. Bosworth,
however, there was no cultural relationship between the ancient Turkic
cultures and the Turanians of the Shahnameh.
The oldest existing mention of
Turan is in the Farvardin yashts, which
are in the
Young Avestan language and have been dated by linguists to
approximately 2300 BCE. According to Gherardo Gnoli, the Avesta
contains the names of various tribes who lived in proximity to each
other: "the Airyas [Aryans], Tuiryas [Turanians], Sairimas
[Sarmatians], Sainus [Ashkuns] and Dahis [Dahae]". In the hymns of
the Avesta, the adjective Tūrya is attached to various enemies of
Zoroastrism like Fraŋrasyan (Shahnameh: Afrāsīāb). The word occurs
only once in the Gathas, but 20 times in the later parts of the
Avesta. The Tuiryas as they were called in
Avesta play a more
important role in the
Avesta than the Sairimas, Sainus and Dahis.
Zoroaster himself hailed from the Airya people but he also preached
his message to other neighboring tribes.
According to Mary Boyce, in the Farvardin Yasht, "In it (verses
143–144) are praised the fravashis of righteous men and women not
only among the Aryas (as the "Avestan" people called themselves), but
also among the Turiyas, Sairimas, Sainus and Dahis; and the personal
names, like those of the people, all seem Iranian character".
Hostility between Tuirya and Airya is indicated also in the Farvardtn
Yast (vv. 37-8), where the Fravashis of the Just are said to have
provided support in battle against the Danus, who appear to be a clan
of the Tura people. Thus in the Avesta, some of the Tuiryas
believed in the message of
Zoroaster while others rejected the
Similar to the ancient homeland of Zoroaster, the precise geography
and location of
Turan is unknown. In post-Avestan traditions they
were thought to inhabit the region north of the Oxus, the river
separating them from the Iranians. Their presence accompanied by
incessant wars with the Iranians, helped to define the latter as a
distinct nation, proud of their land and ready to spill their blood in
its defense. The common names of Turanians in
Avesta and Shahnameh
include Frarasyan, Aghraethra, Biderafsh, Arjaspa
Namkhwast. The names of Iranian tribes including those of the
Turanians that appear in
Avesta have been studied by Manfred Mayrhofer
in his comprehensive book on
Avesta personal name etymologies.
Late Sassanid and early Islamic era
Turan was one of the regions of the Sasanian Empire, here seen at the
From the 5th century CE, the
Sasanian Empire defined "Turan" in
opposition to "Iran", as the land where lay its enemies to the
The continuation of nomadic invasions on the north-eastern borders in
historical times kept the memory of the Turanians alive. After the
6th century the Turks, who had been pushed westward by other tribes,
became neighbours of
Iran and were identified with the
Turanians. The identification of the Turanians with the Turks
was a late development, possibly made in the early 7th century; the
Turks first came into contact with the Iranians only in the 6th
According to Clifford E. Boseworth:
In early Islamic times Persians tended to identify all the lands to
the northeast of Khorasan and lying beyond the
Oxus with the region of
Turan, which in the Shahnama of
Ferdowsi is regarded as the land
allotted to Fereydun's son Tur. The denizens of
Turan were held to
include the Turks, in the first four centuries of Islam essentially
those nomadizing beyond the Jaxartes, and behind them the Chinese (see
Kowalski; Minorsky, "Turan").
Turan thus became both an ethnic and a
geographical term, but always containing ambiguities and
contradictions, arising from the fact that all through Islamic times
the lands immediately beyond the
Oxus and along its lower reaches were
the homes not of Turks but of Iranian peoples, such as the Sogdians
The terms "Turk" and "Turanian" became used interchangeably during the
Islamic era. The Shahnameh, or the
Book of Kings, the compilation of
Iranian mythical heritage, uses the two terms equivalently. Other
authors, including Tabari, Hakim Iranshah and many other texts follow
like. A notable exception is the Abl-Hasan Ali ibn Masudi, an Arab
historian who writes: "The birth of Afrasiyab was in the land of Turks
and the error that historians and non-historians have made about him
being a Turk is due to this reason". By the 10th century, the myth
of Afrasiyab was adopted by the Qarakhanid dynasty. During the
Safavid era, following the common geographical convention of the
Shahnameh, the term
Turan was used to refer to the domain of the Uzbek
empire in conflict with the Safavids.
Some linguists derive the word from the Indo-Iranian root *tura-
"strong, quick, sword(Pashto)", Pashto turan (thuran) "swordsman".
Others link it to old Iranian *tor "dark, black", related to the New
Persian tār(ik), Pashto tor (thor), and possibly English dark. In
this case, it is a reference to the "dark civilization" of Central
Asian nomads in contrast to the "illuminated" Zoroastrian civilization
of the settled Ārya.
Main article: Shahnameh
In the Persian epic Shahnameh, the term Tūrān ("land of the Tūrya"
like Ērān, Īrān = "land of the Ārya") refers to the inhabitants
of the eastern-Iranian border and beyond the Oxus. According to the
foundation myth given in the Shahnameh, King Firēdūn (= Avestan
Θraētaona) had three sons, Salm, Tūr and Īraj, among whom he
divided the world:
Asia Minor was given to Salm,
Turan to Tur and Iran
to Īraj. The older brothers killed the younger, but he was avenged by
his grandson, and the Iranians became the rulers of the world.
However, the war continued for generations. In the Shahnameh, the word
Turan appears nearly 150 times and that of
Iran nearly 750 times.
Some examples from the Shahnameh:
نه خاکست پیدا نه دریا نه کوه
ز بس تیغداران توران گروه
No earth is visible, no sea, no mountain,
From the many blade-wielders of the
تهمتن به توران سپه شد به جنگ
بدانسان که نخجیر بیند پلنگ
Rustam took the fight to the
Just as a leopard sights its prey.
Another 19th-century "Map of
Iran and Turan", drawn by Adolf Stieler
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Western languages borrowed the
Turan as a general designation for modern Central Asia, although
this expression has now fallen into disuse.
Turan appears next to Iran
on numerous maps of the 19th century to designate a region
encompassing modern Ouzbekistan,
Kazakhstan and northern parts of
Afghanistan and Pakistan. This area roughly corresponds to what is
Central Asia today.
Turan Plain or
Turan Depression became a geographical term
referring to a part of Central Asia.
Main article: Turanian languages
The term Turanian, now obsolete, formerly[when?] occurred in the
classifications used by European (especially German, Hungarian, and
Slovak) ethnologists, linguists, and Romantics to designate
populations speaking non-Indo-European, non-Semitic, and non-Hamitic
languages and specially speakers of Altaic, Dravidian, Uralic,
Japanese, Korean and other languages.
Max Müller (1823–1900) identified different sub-branches within the
Turanian language family:
Altaic division branch, comprising Tungusic, Mongolic,
The Northern Ural Samoyedic, Ugriche and Finnic
the Southern branch consisted of
Dravidian languages such as Tamil,
Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and other Dravidian languages
the languages of the Caucasus which Müller classified as the
scattered languages of the Turanian family
Müller also began to muse whether Chinese belonged to the Northern
branch or Southern branch.
The main relationships between Dravidian, Uralic, and
were considered[by whom?] typological. According to Crystal &
Robins, "Language families, as conceived in the historical study of
languages, should not be confused with the quite separate
classifications of languages by reference to their sharing certain
predominant features of grammatical structure." As of 2013[update]
linguists classify languages according to the method of comparative
linguistics rather than using their typological features. According to
Encyclopædia Britannica, Max's Müller's "efforts were most
successful in the case of the Semites, whose affinities are easy to
demonstrate, and probably least successful in the case of the Turanian
peoples, whose early origins are hypothetical". As of 2014[update]
the scholarly community no longer uses the word Turanian to denote a
classification of language families. The relationship between Uralic
and Altaic, whose speakers were also designated as Turanian people in
19th-century European literature, remains uncertain.
Main article: Turanid race
In European discourse, the words
Turan and Turanian can designate a
certain mentality, i.e. the nomadic in contrast to the urbanized
agricultural civilizations. This usage probably[original research?]
matches the Zoroastrian concept of the Tūrya, which is not primarily
a linguistic or ethnic designation, but rather a name of the infidels
that opposed the civilization based on the preaching of Zoroaster.
Combined with physical anthropology, the concept of the Turanian
mentality has a clear potential for cultural polemic. Thus in 1838 the
scholar J.W. Jackson described the Turanid or Turanian race in the
The Turanian is the impersonation of material power. He is the merely
muscular man at his maximum of collective development. He is not
inherently a savage, but he is radically a barbarian. He does not live
from hand to mouth, like a beast, but neither has he in full measure
the moral and intellectual endowments of the true man. He can labour
and he can accumulate, but he cannot think and aspire like a
Caucasian. Of the two grand elements of superior human life, he is
more deficient in the sentiments than in the faculties. And of the
latter, he is better provided with those that conduce to the
acquisition of knowledge than the origination of ideas.
According to Iranian poet Mohammad Taghi Bahar, the name
from the Avestan "Tau-Raodan", which means "Further on the River",
where the "River" equates to the Amu Darya. Bahar also mentions the
word Turk is from
Middle Persian "Turuk," which means "Warrior" or
Feliks Koneczny claimed the existence of a
distinctive Turanian civilization, encompassing both Turkic and some
Slavs, such as Russians. This alleged civilization's hallmark would be
militarism, anti-intellectualism and an absolute obedience to the
ruler. Koneczny saw this civilization as inherently inferior to Latin
(Western European) civilization.
Poster of the opera by Puccini,
Turandot (1926). The name of the opera
is based on Turan-Dokht ("daughter of Turan"), which is a common name
used in Persian poetry for Central Asian princesses.
In the declining days of the Ottoman Empire, some Turkish nationalists
adopted the word Turanian to express a pan-Turkic ideology, also
called Turanism. As of 2013[update]
Turanism forms an important aspect
of the ideology of the Turkish
Nationalist Movement Party
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose
members are also known as Grey Wolves.
In recent times[when?], the word Turanian has sometimes expressed a
Altaic nationalism (theoretically including Manchus and Mongols in
addition to Turks), though no political organization seems to have
adopted such an ambitious platform.
Turandot — or Turandokht — is a female name in
Iran and it means
"Turan's Daughter" in Persian. (It is best known in the West through
Puccini's famous opera
Turan is also a common name in the Middle East, and as family surnames
in some countries including Bahrain, Iran,
Bosnia and Turkey.
Saladin had an older brother with the name
Turaj, whom ancient Iranian myths depict as the ancestor of the
Turanians, is also a popular name and means Son of Darkness. The name
Turan according to Iranian myths derives from the homeland of Turaj.
The Pahlavi pronunciation of Turaj is Tuzh, according to the Dehkhoda
dictionary. Similarly, Iraj, which is also a popular name, is the
brother of Turaj in the Shahnameh. An altered version of Turaj is
Zaraj, which means son of gold.
^ Emeri "van" Donzel, Islamic Reference Desk, Brill Academic
Publishers, 1994. pg 461. Actual Quote: Iranian term applied to region
lying to the northeast of
Iran and ultimately indicating very vaguely
the country of the Turkic peoples.
^ Edward A Allworth,Central Asia: A Historical Overview, Duke
University Press, 1994. pp 86
^ I. M. Diakonoff, The Paths of History, Cambridge University Press,
1999, p. 100: "
Turan was one of the nomadic Iranian tribes mentioned
in the Avesta. However, in Firdousi’s poem, and in the later Iranian
tradition generally, the term
Turan is perceived as denoting 'lands
inhabited by Turkic speaking tribes.'"
^ According to Prof. Gherardo Gnoli: "Iranian tribes that also keep on
recurring in the Yasht, Airyas, Tuiryas, Sairimas, Sainus and Dahis".
G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's time and homeland, Naples 1980
Dehkhoda dictionary: Turaj
^ Yarshater, Ehsan (2004). "
Iran iii. Traditional History of Persia".
^ Menges, Karl Heinrich (1989). "Altaic". Encyclopædia Iranica. In a
series of relatively minor movements, Turkic groups began to occupy
territories in western
Central Asia and eastern Europe which had
previously been held by Iranians (i.e. Turan). The Volga Bulgars,
following the Avars, proceeded to the Volga and Ukraine in the
^ Possehl, Raymond (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary
Perspective. Rowman Altamira Press. p. 276.
^ Firdawsi, "The Epic of Kings", translated by Helen Zimmern,
eBooks@Adelaide 2004 Archived 2007-06-13 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Edgar Burke Inlow. Shahanshah: A Study of the Monarchy of Iran,
Motilal Banarsidass Pub, 1979. pg 17: "Faridun divided his vast empire
between his three sons, Iraj, the youngest receiving Iran. After his
murder by his brothers and the avenging Manuchihr, one would have
thought the matter was ended. But, the fraternal strife went on
between the descendants of Tur and Selim (Salm) and those of Iraj. The
former – the Turanians – were the Turks or Tatars of Central Asia,
seeking access to Iran. The descendants of
Iraj were the resisting
^ Bosworth, C. Edmund (1973). "Barbarian Incursions: The Coming of the
Turks into the Islamic World". In Richards, D.S. Islamic Civilization.
Oxford. p. 2. Hence as Kowalski has pointed out, a Turkologist
seeking for information in the Shahnama on the primitive culture of
the Turks would definitely be disappointed.
^ Prods Oktor Skjærvø, "Avestan Quotations in Old Persian?" in S.
Shaked and A. Netzer, eds., Irano-Judaica IV, Jerusalem, 1999, pp.
^ a b G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's time and homeland, Naples 1980
^ M. Boyce, History of Zoroastrianism. 3V. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991.
(Handbuch Der Orientalistik/B. Spuler)
^ M. Boyce, History of Zoroastrianism. 3V. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991.
(Handbuch Der Orientalistik/B. Spuler)., pg 250
^ G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's time and homeland, Naples 1980, pg 107
^ G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's time and homeland, Naples 1980, pg 99–130
^ a b c Ehsan Yarshater, "Iranian National History," in The Cambridge
Iran 3(1)(1983), 408–409
^ a b c d Yarshater, Ehsan (1984). "Afrāsīāb". Encyclopædia
Iranica. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
^ Khaleghi-Motlagh, Djalal (1984). "Aḡrēraṯ". Encyclopædia
^ a b Tafażżolī, Aḥmad (1989). "Bīderafš". Encyclopædia
^ Tafażżolī, Aḥmad (1986). "Arjasp". Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ Mayrhofer, Manfred (1977). Iranisches Personennamenbuch (in German).
Vol. I/1 - Die altiranischen Namen/Die Avestischen Namen. Vienna:
Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. pp. 74f. Reviewed in
Dresden, Mark J. (1981). "Journal of the American Oriental Society".
101 (4): 466. doi:10.2307/601282.
^ The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, Michael Maas,
Cambridge University Press, 2014 p.284 ff
^ R. Frye, The Heritage of Persia: The pre-Islamic History of One of
the World's Great Civilizations, World Publishing Company, New York,
1963. pg 41
^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1990). "
Central Asia iv. In the Islamic
Period up to the Mongols". Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ Abi al-Ḥasan Ali ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Ali al-Masudi, Muruj
al-dhahab wa-maadin al-jawhar, Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Marifah, 2005.
Turan map 1843.jpg
^ Abel Hovelacque, The Science of Language: Linguistics, Philology,
Etymology, pg 144, 
^ Elisabeth Chevallier,François Lenormant, "A Manual of the Ancient
History of the East", J. B. Lippincott & co., 1871. pg 68. 
^ George "van" Driem, Handbuch Der Orientalistik, Brill Academic
Publishers, 2001. pp 335–336. 
^ Crystal, David; Robins, Robert Henry. "Language". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 5 - Linguistic change / Language typology.
^ "religions, classification of." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Altaic languages." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007
Iran and Turan", Anthropological Review 6:22 (1868), p. 286
^ Smith, Matthew (2010). "Sabkšenāsi". Encyclopædia Iranica.
'Centre and Periphery in Late Protohistoric Turan: the Settlement
Pattern', in: Hiirtel, H. (ed.) South Asian Archaeology 1979, Berlin
Iran und Turan, Verlag Philipp von Zabern GmbH.
Publisher – Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH (Volume 1–3)
Iranians and Turanians in the Avesta
Der Schatten von
Turan (a history of the
Turan ideology – in German)
Shahnameh of Ferdowsi
Clans and families
House of Goudarz
House of Viseh
House of Nowzar
House of Sasan
House of Sām
Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp
Shahnameh of Rashida
Shahnameh (or Demotte)
Shahnameh of Ghavam al-Din
Zal and Rudabeh
Rostam and Sohrab
Rostam's Seven Labours
Khosrow and Shirin
Bijan and Manijeh