This article is about the bird. For the ruler in the Turkic Seljuk dynasty, see Tughril. For the leader of the Turkic Kayı tribe, see Ertuğrul.
Turul bird in the Royal Castle, Budapest, Hungary

The Turul is a mythological bird of prey, mostly depicted as a hawk or falcon, in Hungarian tradition and a national symbol of modern Hungary.


Gilt silver plague with turul motif (Hungary, 10th century), National Museum in Prague.
Miniature of Hungarian captain Előd, displaying the turul on his shield (Chronicon Pictum, 14th century)

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.[1] 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 Hungarian tradition, it presumably originated as the clan symbol used in the 9th and 10th centuries by the ruling House of Arpad. [2]

In the legend of Emese, recorded in the Gesta Hungarorum and the Chronicon Pictum, the turul is mentioned as occurring in a dream of Eseme's as impregnating her,[3] and 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.

Modern use

Turul with the Holy Crown of Hungary, Tatabánya, Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary first issue (1900) with image of Turuls

The Turul is used as in the design of coats of arms of the Hungarian Army, the Counter Terrorism Centre and the Office of National Security.[4][5]

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[6]

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

See also


  1. "Great Turkish Dictionary". Turkish Language Association. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  2. Chronicon Pictum, Gesta Hungarorum. 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
  3. "Magyar Néprajzi Lexikon: Emese". mek.oszk.hu. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  4. Tom Warhol, Birdwatcher's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Advice, Insight, and Information for Enthusiastic Birders, Marcus Schneck, Quarry Books, 2010, p. 158
  5. István Dienes, The Hungarians cross the Carpathians, Corvina Press, 1972, p. 71
  6. index.hu
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