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 (
TūRāN (Persian توران) literally means "the land of the Tur ",
and is a region in
Central Asia . The term is of Iranian origin and
may refer to a certain prehistoric human settlement, a historic
geographical region, or a culture. The original Turanians were an
Iranian tribe of the Avestan age.
* 1 Overview
* 2 Terminology
* 2.1 Ancient literature
* 2.1.2 Late Sassanid and early Islamic era
* 2.2 Modern literature
* 2.2.1 Geography
* 2.2.4 Politics
* 2.2.5 Names
* 3 Family tree
* 4 Further reading
* 5 References
* 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 two 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
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 Prof. Gherardo
Avesta contains the names of various tribes who lived in
proximity to each other: "the Airyas , Tuiryas , Sairimas , Sainus
and Dahis ". 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
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
the Sairimas, Sainus and Dahis.
Zoroaster himself hailed from the
Airya people but he also preached his message to other neighboring
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 religion.
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
Avesta have been studied by Professor Mayrhofer in his
comprehensive book on
Avesta personal name etymologies: Iranisches
Personennamenbuch, I: Die altiranischen Namen. Faszikel l, Die
Late Sassanid And Early Islamic Era
Turan was one of the regions of the
Sasanian Empire , here seen
at the extreme southeast.
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 century.
According to C.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,
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.
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
Due the multitude of the swordsmen in the Turanian army
One cannot view the sands, or sea or mountains
تهمتن به توران سپه شد به جنگ
بدانسان که نخجیر بیند پلنگ
The Tahamtan (Powerful-Bodied)
Rustam went to battle against the
Like a Leopard when he sees his hunt.
Another 19th century "Map of
Iran and Turan", drawn by Adolf
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
Kazakhstan and northern parts of
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.
Uralic languages ,
Altaic languages , Dravidian
languages , and
The term Turanian, now obsolete, formerly 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:
* the Middler
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 Altaic
languages were considered typological . According to Encyclopædia
Britannica: "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 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 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.
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 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
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 Turan
derives 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 "Horseman".
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
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
Turanism forms an
important aspect of the ideology of the Turkish Nationalist Movement
Party (MHP), whose members are also known as Grey Wolves .
In recent times, 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
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.
* 'Centre and Periphery in Late Protohistoric Turan: the Settlement
Pattern', in: Hiirtel, H. (ed.) South Asian Archaeology 1979, Berlin
* Archäologie in
Turan – Verlag Philipp von Zabern GmbH.
Publisher – Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH (Volume 1–3)
* ^ 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
* ^ E. Yarshater, , Encyclopædia Iranica.
* ^ K. H. Menges, in Encyclopædia Iranica Excerpt: "In a series of
relatively minor movements, Turkic groups began to occupy territories
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 6th–7th centuries."
* ^ Possehl, Raymond (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary
Perspective. Rowman Altamira Press. p. 276.
* ^ Firdawsi, "The Epic of Kings", translated by
Helen Zimmern ,
* ^ 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. E. "Barbarian Incursions: The Coming of the Turks into
the Islamic World." In Islamic Civilization, Edited by D. S. Richards.
Oxford, 1973. pg 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
* ^ A B C Ehsan Yarshater, "Iranian National History," in The
Cambridge History of
Iran 3(1)(1983), 408–409
* ^ A B Encyclopædia Iranica, "Afrasiyab", E. Yarshater
* ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "Agrerat", Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh
* ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "Bidarafsh", Ahmad Tafazzoli
* ^ Encyclopedia Iranica,"Arjasp", A. Tafazzoli
* ^ Encyclopedia Iranica,"Bidarafsh", A. Tafazzoli
* ^ M. Mayrhofer, Die avestischen Namen,IPNB I/1(Vienna 1977).
* ^ 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
* ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "Afrasiyab", E. Yarshater
* ^ Encyclopædia Iranica, "CENTRAL ASIA: The Islamic period up to
the Mongols", C. Edmund Bosworth
* ^ Abi al-Ḥasan Ali ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Ali al-Masudi, Muruj
al-dhahab wa-maadin al-jawhar, Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Marifah, 2005.
* ^ File:
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 ">
* ^ Yarshater, Ehsan. "AFRĀSĪĀB". ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA.
Retrieved 24 April 2016.
* Iranians and Turanians in the Avesta
* Der Schatten von
Turan (a history of the
Turan ideology – in