Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Turul Bird: an Addendum to My Bird Myth Posts

Turul, Hungarian mythological bird above the
Habsburg Steps overlooking the Royal Palace
 of Buda, by Peter Brown, in
(Creative Commons
       I recently learned about another giant mythical bird and I don't want to omit it from my register!
       I was reading a couple of books with characters descended from the Huns (Erika M. Szabo's pair of novels in the Guarded Secrets series, currently undergoing revision) and the Turul bird is mentioned.  It's a feature of  Hungarian mythology.
       According to Wikipedia (Turul), the word Turul probably has a Turkic origin (togrıl or turgul), meaning a medium to large bird of prey such as a Goshawk or Red Kite.  In Hungarian three different ancient words are used to describe different kinds of falcons, one of which is turul.
       In Magyar myth of the 9th century (which like most early myths were written down at a much later date), Emese was impregnated (either actually or in a dream) by a Turul bird and a stream of water came from her womb, signifying that her son, Almos, would be the founder of a glorious lineage for the Magyar people, which would spread out over the land like a great stream.
      The Turul bird itself was reputed to sit in the Tree of Life. I'm quoting from Wikipedia (Hungarian mythology) here:
"In Hungarian myth, the world is divided into three spheres: the first is the Upper World (Felső világ), the home of the gods; the second is the Middle World (Középső világ) or world we know, and finally the underworld (Alsó világ). In the center of the world stands a tall tree: the World Tree / Tree of Life (Világfa/Életfa). Its foliage is the Upper World, and the Turul bird dwells on top of it. The Middle World is located at its trunk and the underworld is around its roots. In some stories, the tree has fruit: the golden apples."
       If you've been reading my Hercules posts, you know that the idea of a tree bearing golden apples occurs in the myths of many cultures, as does the Tree of Life or World Tree concept.
       In the article on Turul, Wikipedia states that the Turul became a symbol of power, strength, and nobility and is often portrayed with a sword in its talons. Its image is still used today on the coats of arms of various Hungarian governmental agencies.
     Here are  other URLs leading to concise restatements of the myths:
       However, not everybody in Hungary likes the Turul bird and what it has occasionally been used to symbolize; for that aspect see


  1. If I were to write a book for Rune going to the Transylvania area to visit his vampire father, I'd certainly want to include the Turul bird when he passed through Hungary on the way to Romania.

    1. That definitely sounds like a winner of an idea! Thanks for stopping by, Marva!