Avestan: Etymology of tura

Artaxerxes I

Senior Member
German, Persian
Hello dear forum members!

Does anyone have an idea about the etymology of the avestan demonym tura - "turanian", which designates aryan tribe(s) who were hostile toward the "zarathustrianized" aryans, and from which the personal name Np. Tur and the toponym Turān - "[land] of the Tur; Turan" derive? Does it have a vedic cognate? I haven´t found anything about this in the Internet or available etymological dictionaries...

Thanks in advance!
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I can only report what Wiki has to say without any warranty but it might help get you started: The demonym and the toponym are derived from the personal name Tūr, the son of the mythological king Feraydūn. But this may of course be a later reinterpretation of an unknown pre-Indo-Iranian demonym and/or toponym.
     

    Artaxerxes I

    Senior Member
    German, Persian
    I can only report what Wiki has to say without any warranty but it might help get you started: The demonym and the toponym are derived from the personal name Tūr, the son of the mythological king Feraydūn. But this may of course be a later reinterpretation of an unknown pre-Indo-Iranian demonym and/or toponym.
    Dear berndf,

    The person Tūr, as one of the three sons of mythological king Feraydūn, appears in middlepersian sources at the earliest, it is very probable, that he was invented later to provide an etymology for the toponym Tūrān. According to my knowledge, the name Tūr, referring to the eponymic ancestor of the turanian tribes, is rather derived from the avestan demonym Tura - "turanian" and not the other way around. The demonym tura appears together with derivatives of it like tuiriia - "turanian" (applied to Franghrasiian = Afrasyab) and tuiriianam - "of the turanians" already in the Avesta.
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    Hello dear forum members!

    Does anyone have an idea about the etymology of the avestan demonym tura - "turanian", which designates aryan tribe(s) who were hostile toward the "zarathustrianized" aryans, and from which the personal name Np. Tur and the toponym Turān - "[land] of the Tur; Turan" derive? Does it have a vedic cognate? I haven´t found anything about this in the Internet or available etymological dictionaries...

    Thanks in advance!
    The tūra/tūiriia are not considered an Aryan (airiia) tribe in the Avesta. The airiia are contrasted with the tūra/tūiriia and other groups. It doesn't have a Vedic cognate.
     
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    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    As is explained in the linked article.
    Yes, I read it just now. It's an excellent article and well-researched. :thumbsup: I have a question about the terms tūra and tūiriia. Is there any difference in usage between them?
     
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    Artaxerxes I

    Senior Member
    German, Persian
    The tūra/tūiriia are not considered an Aryan (airiia) tribe in the Avesta. The airiia are contrasted with the tūra/tūiriia and other groups. It doesn't have a Vedic cognate.
    I know that the turanians (Av. tūra) are not considered (formally) as aryan (Av. airiia) in the Avesta, but the fact, that all mentioned turanians carry iranian names, speak an iranian language and display iranian customs and religious views, suggest that the turanians were also (technically) aryans/iranians. According to my interpretation, the term airiia in the avesta is not used as a generel ethonym for aryan/iranian, but refers more specifically to those (eastern) iranian people, who adopted the religion of Zarathushtra. In fact, one issue between the "iranians" and "turanians" in iranian mythology is the adoption of the zarathustrian religion by king Vishtaspa, which was critized by the turanian king Arjasp, who still followed the pre-zarathustrian iranian religion. In general, the fight between the turanians and iranians is like a combat between two brothers of the same stock. This can be seen in the conception of the brothers Tur and Iraj (who were the eponymic ancestors of the respective people) in iranian national history; Tur and his older brother Salm (< Mp. Sarm < Av. sairima) became envious of their youngest brother Iraj, since he was apppointed as crown prince by king Fereydun and also got the rulership over Iran, the heart of the empire. The assassination of Iraj by Tur is the starting point for the long wars between these two "brother-nations".

    So the fact, that the turanians are (formally) contrasted to the aryans (iranians) in the Avesta, does not exclude the aryan origin of the turanians. This can be compared by the notion, that the iranians and Indians, after division of the indoiraian people, did used the authonym arya for themselves, but did not applied this on each other. Although the iranians and indians inherited the ethnical self-designation arya from their common indoiranian ancestors, they forgot their common origin at some point of history. So both iranians and Indians are technically "aryans", but formally both iranians and Indians did not designated each other as aryan. Can you follow me?
     
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    Artaxerxes I

    Senior Member
    German, Persian
    I am sure Shahnamé mentions Afrasiáb, a leader from tūran, as a none Persian also possibly as a Turkic speaker.
    Turanians (and the toponym Turan) were associated with turks only from the time period, when turkish tribes migrated and settled in those central asian regions, which were once considered turanian. Before that, the turanians are commonly potrayed as belonging to eastern iranian people.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Turanians (and the toponym Turan) were associated with turks only from the time period, when turkish tribes migrated and settled in those central asian regions, which were once considered turanian. Before that, the turanians are commonly potrayed as belonging to eastern iranian people.
    The Turks did not settle in Transoxania until the middle of the 6th century. Until then the population there were Eastern Iranians (Bactrians, Sogdians, Choresmians), who were not "considered Turanian".
     

    Artaxerxes I

    Senior Member
    German, Persian
    The Turks did not settle in Transoxania until the middle of the 6th century. Until then the population there were Eastern Iranians (Bactrians, Sogdians, Choresmians), who were not "considered Turanian".
    I did not say that the real eastern iranians like Bactrians, Sogdians, Choresmians were turanian, but that in iranian/zarathustrian tradition the turanians were concepted as inhabitants of the central asian region beyond the Oxus river. (which was therefore also known as Turan). Although the tūra were obviously real iranian tribes in early history, i have no doubt, that the turanians as potrayed in later epic traditions are quite semi-legendary, since the heroic battles and wars between the noble iranians and the turanians are also reminiscent of the long-lasting experiences of the iranians with invading enemies (Scythians, Massagetes, Hephtalites, Gök-turks etc.) at the north-eastern frontier of the iranian empires. The constant danger at this frontier was certainly projected into the mythological/heroic past, in which the envious turanians constantly tried to invade Iran for the sake of conquest. (already in the Avesta the famous turanian Fraŋrasiian[Afrāsyāb] was obsessed with the obtaining of the xᵛarənah, which would have allowed him to rule over the aryan regions).

    It was also assumed, that the execution of king Nozar in iranian epic traditions after a desastroes war campaign against the turanians, could be a reflection of the historically confirmed death of the sasanid king Piruz I. during a battle against the Hephtalites!
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I did not say that the real eastern iranians like Bactrians, Sogdians, Choresmians were turanian, but that in iranian/zarathustrian tradition the turanians were concepted as inhabitants of the central asian region beyond the Oxus river. (which was therefore also known as Turan).
    The problem here is the chronology. The "inhabitants of Central Asia" are not called Tur in the Avesta or in any demonstrably pre-Islamic text.
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    Tūra- is a noun. *Tūr-ya- > Av. Tūiriia- is an adjective.
    Thanks. That was my line of thinking too, but then I became uncertain when I saw in a translation of the Zamyad Yasht by Almut Hintze that she defined both tūra and tūiriia as adjectives meaning 'Turanian'. So I guess it's an error in her book.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In the Zamyād Yašt tura- occurs six times, always in the nom. sing. turō together with the proper name Fraƞrase, so it is really a moot point whether you take it as a noun in apposition with the name (“the Tur F.”) or as an adjective (“the Turanian F.”). In her glossary Hintze defines it as “turisch, Turer”, so both options are on offer.
     
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    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Turanian names being Iranian does not necessarily mean they were Iranian as well, the same way the Arabic names of Iranians doesn't mean they are Arab. If I'm not wrong, all contemporary Turanians in Avesta were portrayed positively (as Mazda worshipers) so, even if they weren't Iranian, they could have adopted Iranian names. Of the older ones, among the three that I know, the bad guys (Afrasiab and Garsivaz) have names with "bad" meanings, and the good guy (Agrirath) has a good name. So, it is possible that these names are nicknames given by Iranians. My assumption is based on only the three names which I'm familiar with, however.
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    In the Zamyād Yašt tura- occurs six times, always in the nom. sing. turō together with the proper name Fraƞrase, so it is really a moot point whether you take it as a noun in apposition with the name (“the Tur F.”) or as an adjective (“the Turanian F.”). In her glossary Hintze defines it as “turisch, Turer”, so both options are on offer.
    All clear now, thanks. The English version I read defined it only as an adjective 'Turanian' (p.46): Zamyad Yasht
     

    Artaxerxes I

    Senior Member
    German, Persian
    The problem here is the chronology. The "inhabitants of Central Asia" are not called Tur in the Avesta or in any demonstrably pre-Islamic text.
    You are right indeed. The explicit connection between central asian regions and Turan and turanians is firstly attested in iranian texts and scripture of post-islamic time.
     
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