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Turanism, Pan-Turanianism, Pan-Turanism is a nationalist cultural and political movement born in the 19th century, to counter the effects of pan-nationalist ideologies Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism.[1] It proclaimed the need for close cooperation between or an alliance with culturally, linguistically or ethnically related peoples of Inner Asian and Central Asian origin, like the Finns, Japanese,[2][3] Sami, Samoyeds, Hungarians, Turks, Mongols, Manchus, and other smaller ethnic groups as a means of securing and furthering shared interests and countering the threats posed by the policies of the great powers of Europe. The idea of a "Turanian brotherhood and collaboration" was borrowed from the Pan-Slavic concept of "Slavic brotherhood and collaboration".[4]

The term itself originates from the name of a geographical area, the Turan Depression. The term Turan was widely used in scientific literature during the 18th century, to denote Central Asia.

This political ideology originated in the work of the Finnish nationalist and linguist Matthias Alexander Castrén, who championed the ideology of Pan-Turanism – the belief in the racial unity and the future greatness of the Ural-Altaic peoples. He concluded that the Finns originated in Central Asia (in the Altai Mountains), and far from being a small, isolated people, they were part of a larger polity that included such peoples as the Magyars, Turks, Mongols, etc.[5] It implies not only the unity of all Turkic peoples (as in Pan-Turkism), but also the alliance of a wider Turanian or Ural-Altaic family, believed to include all peoples speaking "Turanian languages". Like the term Aryan is used for Indo-European, Turanian is used chiefly as a linguistic term, synonymous with Ural-Altaic.[6] The concept of an Ural-Altaic ethnic and language family goes back to the linguistic theories of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; in his opinion there was no better method for specifying the relationship and origin of the various peoples of the Earth, than the comparison of their languages. In his 'Brevis designatio meditationum de originibus gentium ductis potissimum ex indicio linguarum'[7], written in 1710, he originates every human language from one common ancestor language. Over time, this ancestor language split into two families; the Japhetic and the Aramaic. The Japhetic family split even further, into Scythian and Celtic branches. The members of the Scythian family were: the Greek language, the family of Sarmato-Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Czech, Dalmatian, Bulgar, Slovene, Avar and Khazar), the family of Turkic languages (Turkish, Cuman, Kalmyk and Mongolian), the family of Finnic languages (Finnish, Saami, Hungarian, Estonian, Liv and Samoyed). Although his theory and grouping were far from perfect, it had a tremendous effect on the development of linguistic research, especially in German speaking countries.

Both Ural-Altaic and Altaic remain relevant — and still insufficiently understood — concepts of areal linguistics and typology, even if in a genetic sense these terms might be considered as obsolete.[8]

Although Turanism is a political movement for the union of all Uralo-Altaic peoples, there are different opinions about inclusiveness.[9] In the opinion of the famous Turanist Ziya Gökalp, Turanism is for Turkic peoples only, as the other Turanian peoples (Finns, Hungarians, Mongolians) are too different culturally. So he narrowed Turanism into Pan-Turkism.[10]

Friedrich Max Müller's Northern Division of Turanian Languages

According to the description given by Lothrop Stoddard at the time of first world war:

Right across northern Europe and Asia, from the Baltic to the Pacific and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean, there stretches a vast band of peoples to whom ethnologists have assigned the name of "Uralo-Altaic race", but who are more generally termed "Turanians". This group embraces the most widely scattered folk—the Ottoman Turks of Istanbul and Anatolia, the Turcomans of Central Asia and Persia, the Tatars of South Russia and Transcaucasia, the Magyars of Hungary, the Finns of Finland and the Baltic provinces, the aboriginal tribes of Siberia and even the distant Mongols and Manchus. Diverse though they are in culture, tradition, and even physical appearance, these peoples nevertheless possess certain well-marked traits in common. Their languages are all similar, and, what is of even more import, their physical and mental make-up displays undoubted affinities.[11]

Origins of Pan-Turanianism[edit]

Pan-Turanianism has its roots in the Finnish nationalist Fennophile and Fennoman movement, and in the works of linguist Matthias Alexander Castrén. The concept spread from here to the kindred peoples of the Finns.

The languages of Asia and Europe arranged according to their grammatical principles in Friedrich Max Müller's „Letter to Chevalier Bunsen on the classification of the Turanian languages”, published in 1854.

Friedrich Max Müller, the German Orientalist and philologist, published and proposed a new grouping of the non-Aryan and non-Semitic Asian languages in 1855. In his work The Languages of the Seat of War in the East he called these languages "Turanian". Müller divided this group into two subgroups, the Southern Division, and the Northern Division.[12] In the long run, his evolutionist theory about languages' structural development, tying growing grammatical refinement to socio-economic development, and grouping languages into 'antediluvian', 'familial', 'nomadic', and 'political' developmental stages,[13] proved unsound, but his Northern Division was renamed and re-classed as the Ural-Altaic languages. Nonetheless, his terminology stuck, and the terms 'Turanian peoples' and 'Turanian languages' became parts of common parlance.

Notable countries[edit]


Turanism in Finland can be traced from the roots of Finnish linguist Matthias Castrén,[14] a champion for promoting the ideology of pan-Turanism for the first time.[15] His search over ethnic and language connection between Northern Asians and Finnish people put an important role for promoting pan-Turanism in Finland, a country which was believed to have more Asian links than European links.

However, due to Finland's isolation over Turanism, it is not common.


Hungarian Turanism (Hungarian: Turanizmus) was a romantic nationalist cultural and political movement which was most active from the second half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century.[1] It was based on the age old and still living national tradition about the Asian origins of the Magyars. This tradition was preserved in medieval chronicles (such as Gesta Hungarorum[16] and Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum,[17] and the Chronicon Pictum) as early as the 13th century. This tradition served as the starting point for the scientific research about the ethnogenesis of the Hungarian people, which began in the 18th century, both in Hungary and abroad. Sándor Kőrösi Csoma (the writer of the first Tibetan-English dictionary) traveled to Asia in the strong belief that he could find the kindred of the Magyars in Turkestan, amongst the Uyghurs.[18] As a scientific movement, Turanism was concerned with the research about Asia and its culture in the context of Hungarian history and culture. Political Turanism was born in the 19th century, in response to the growing influence of Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism, which were seen by Hungarians as very dangerous to the state and nation of Hungary, because the country had large ethnic German and Slavic populations.[1] Political Turanism was a romantic nationalist movement, which accentuated the importance of the common ancestry and the cultural affinity of the Hungarians with the peoples of the Caucasus, Inner and Central Asia, like the Turks, Mongols, Parsi etc., and called for closer collaboration and political alliance with them, as a means to secure and further shared interests, and counter the imminent threats posed by the policies of Western powers like Germany, the British Empire, France and Russia.

The idea of a Hungarian Oriental Institute originated with Jenő Zichy.[19] Unfortunately, this idea did not come true. Instead, a kind of lyceum was formed in 1910, called 'Turáni Társaság' (The Hungarian Turan Society (also called The Hungarian Asiatic Society)). The Turan society concentrated on Turan as geographic location where the ancestors of Hungarians might have lived.

The movement received impetus after Hungary's defeat in World War I. Under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon (1920), the new Hungarian state constituted only 32.7% of the territory of historic, pre-treaty Hungary, and it lost 58.4% of its total population. More than 3.2 million ethnic Hungarians – one-third of all Hungarians – resided outside the new boundaries of Hungary, in the successor states, under oppressive conditions. Old Hungarian cities of great cultural importance like Pozsony (a former capital of the country), Kassa, and Kolozsvár were lost. Under these circumstances no Hungarian government could survive without seeking justice for both the Magyars and Hungary. Reuniting the Magyars became a crucial point in public life and on the political agenda. Outrage led many to reject Europe and turn towards the East in search of new friends and allies in a bid to revise the unjust terms of the treaty and restore the integrity of Hungary.

The 'Magyar-Nippon Társaság' (Hungarian Nippon Society) was founded by private persons on the 1st of June 1924 in order to strengthen Hungarian-Japanese cultural relations and exchanges.[20]

Turanism was never embraced officially, because it was not in accord with the Christian conservatist ideological background of the regime. But it was used by the government as an informal tool to break the country's international isolation, and build alliances. Hungary signed treaties of friendship and collaboration with the Republic of Turkey in 1923,[21] with the Republic of Estonia in 1937,[22] with the Republic of Finland in 1937,[23] with Japan in 1938,[24] and with Bulgaria in 1941.[25]


Traditional history cites its early origins amongst Ottoman officers and intelligentsia studying and residing in 1870s Imperial Germany. The fact that many Ottoman Turkish officials were becoming aware of their sense of "Turkishness" is beyond doubt of course, and the role of subsequent nationalists, such as Ziya Gökalp is fully established historically. As the Turkish historian Hasan Bülent Paksoy put it, an aspiration emerged, that the Turkic peoples might "form a political entity stretching from the Altai Mountains in Eastern Asia to the Bosphorus".[26] During the late 19th century, the works of renowned Hungarian Orientalist and linguist Ármin Vámbéry contributed to the spreading of Turkish nationalism and Turanism. Vámbéry was employed by the British Foreign office as an advisor and agent. He was paid well for his accounts about his meetings with members of the Ottoman elite and Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and for his essays concerning Ottoman politics.[27] At the time the Russian and British empires were antagonists in the so-called "Great Game", to cultivate influence in Persia and Central Asia (Turkestan). Russia and Britain systematically fanned the rivalling nationalisms of the multi-ethnic empire for their own ends,[28][29] and this led to the strengthening of Turkish nationalism as a result. The nationalist movement of the Young Turks aimed for a secularized nation-state, and constitutional government in a parliamentary democracy.

The Ottoman political party of the Young Turks, the Committee of Union and Progress, espoused the notion of Turanism, a mythic glorification of Turkish ethnic identity, and was devoted to restoring the Ottoman Empire's shattered national pride.[30]

The Turkish version of Pan-Turanianism was summed up by American politicians as follows: "It has been shown above that the Turkish version of Pan-Turanianism contains two general ideas: (a) To purify and strengthen the Turkish nationality within the Ottoman Empire, and (b) to link up the Ottoman Turks with the other Turks in the world. These objects were first pursued in the cultural sphere by a private group of 'Intellectuals', and promoted by peaceful propaganda. After 1913 they took on a political form and were incorporated in the programme of the C.U.P."[31] Ottoman defeat in World War I briefly undermined the notion of Pan-Turanianism.[32]

Turanism forms an important aspect of the ideology of the modern Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose youth movement is informally known as the Grey Wolves. Grey Wolf (the mother wolf Asena) was the main symbol of the ancient Turkic peoples.


Japanese Turanism was based upon the same footing as its European counterparts. The Austrian German philologist Johann Anton Boller (1811–1869) was the first who systematically tried to prove the Ural-Altaic affiliation of the Japanese language.[33] The Japanese linguist Fujioka Katsuji (1872-1935) put forward a set of mainly typological characteristics linking Japanese to the Ural-Altaic family.[34] The concept of Japanese as an Ural-Altaic language was quite widely accepted prior to the second world war. At present, Japanese is the only major language in the world whose genetic affiliation to other languages or language families has not been adequately proven.

In the 1920s and 30s Turanism got some backing in Japan, mostly amongst the military elite and intelligentsia. Japanese Turanists claimed that Japanese have an Inner Asian descent, and the progenitors of the Japanese people migrated from Central Asia to conquer the Japanese islands. Kitagawa Shikazō (1886-1943) asserted that the Japanese had descended from the Tungusic branch of the Turanian family, just like the Koreans and Manchus, whose origin had been in north-east China, Manchuria. And, since Japanese, Koreans and Manchus derived from a Tungusic origin, they also had a bond with other Turanian sub-ethnicities like Turks, Mongols, Samoyeds and Finno-Ugrians in terms of blood, language and culture.[35] In Japan, such Turanist organisations as Turanian National Alliance – Tsuran Minzoku Doumei (1921) – Turanian Society of Japan – Nippon Tsuran Kyoukai (early 1930s) – Japanese-Hungarian Cultural Association – Nikko Bunka Kyoukai (1938) – were founded. All of them are now disbanded and the Ideology is seen as debunked because of no genetically connection to Central Asian or Turanian people.[36][37][38] In recent times there is an increase of animosity against Korean people by some extreme right-wing groups in Japan.[39][40][41]

A pro-Finnish activity was carried in Japan in the Inter-War period by some Japanese nationalists influenced by Turanism. It found theoretical expression in, for example, a book entitled Hann tsuranizumu to keizai burokku (English: Pan-Turanism and the Economic Bloc), written by an economist. The writer insists that the Japanese should leave the tragically small Japanese islands and resettle to the northern and western parts of the Asian continent, where their forefathers had once dwelt. For this purpose, they had to reconquer these ancestral lands from the Slavs by entering into alliance with the Turanian peoples. The Finns, one of those peoples, were to take a share of this great achievement.[42]

Key personalities[edit]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "FARKAS Ildikó: A magyar turanizmus török kapcsolatai ("The Turkish connections of Hungarian Turanism")". www.valosagonline.hu [Valóság (2013 I.-IV)]. 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  2. ^ https://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/50738?view=print
  3. ^ http://apcz.umk.pl/czasopisma/index.php/HiP/article/viewFile/HiP.2017.011/11715
  4. ^ http://www.britannica.com/bps/search?query=turanism
  5. ^ EB on Matthias Alexander Castrén. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/98799/Matthias-Alexander-Castren
  6. ^ M. Antoinette Czaplicka, The Turks of Central Asia in History and at the Present Day, Elibron, 2010, p.19
  7. ^ LEIBNIZ, Gottfried Wilhelm: Brevis designatio meditationum de originibus gentium ductis potissimum ex indicio linguarum. 1710. https://edoc.bbaw.de/files/956/Leibniz_Brevis.pdf
  8. ^ BROWN, Keith and OGILVIE, Sarah eds.:Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. 2009. p. 722.
  9. ^ http://www.nihal-atsiz.com/yazi/turancilik-h-nihal-atsiz.html
  10. ^ Türkçülüğün Esasları pg.25 (Gökalp, Ziya)
  11. ^ Stoddard, T. Lothrop. "Pan-Turanism". The American Political Science Review. Vol. 11, No. 1. (1917) p.16. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1944138.pdf?acceptTC=true
  12. ^ MÜLLER, Friedrich Max. The languages of the seat of war in the East. With a survey of the three families of language, Semitic, Arian and Turanian. Williams and Norgate, London, 1855. https://archive.org/details/languagesseatwa00mlgoog
  13. ^ MÜLLER, Friedrich Max: Letter to Chevalier Bunsen on the classification of the Turanian languages. 1854. https://archive.org/details/cu31924087972182
  14. ^ Matthias Castrén http://375humanistia.helsinki.fi/en/humanists/matthias-castren
  15. ^ Finland's first linguist. http://375humanistia.helsinki.fi/en/matthias-castren/finlands-first-linguist
  16. ^ Anonymus: Gesta Hungarorum. http://mek.oszk.hu/02200/02245/02245.htm
  17. ^ Kézai Simon mester Magyar krónikája. http://mek.oszk.hu/02200/02249/02249.htm
  18. ^ Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon. http://mek.oszk.hu/00300/00355/html/index.html
  19. ^ VINCZE Zoltán: Létay Balázs, a magyar asszirológia legszebb reménye http://www.muvelodes.ro/index.php/Cikk?id=155
  20. ^ FARKAS Ildikó: A Magyar-Nippon Társaság. In: Japanológiai körkép. 2007. http://real.mtak.hu/34745/1/Farkas_Magyar_Nippon_Tarsasag_u.pdf
  21. ^ 1924. évi XVI. törvénycikk a Török Köztársasággal Konstantinápolyban 1923. évi december hó 18. napján kötött barátsági szerződés becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=7599
  22. ^ 1938. évi XXIII. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Budapesten, 1937. évi október hó 13. napján kelt magyar-észt egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8078
  23. ^ 1938. évi XXIX. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Budapesten, 1937. évi október hó 22. napján kelt magyar-finn egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8084
  24. ^ 1940. évi I. törvénycikk a Budapesten, 1938. évi november hó 15. napján kelt magyar-japán barátsági és szellemi együttműködési egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8115
  25. ^ 1941. évi XVI. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Szófiában az 1941. évi február hó 18. napján kelt magyar-bolgár egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8169
  26. ^ Paksoy, H.B., ‘Basmachi’: TurkestanNational Liberation Movement 1916-1930s – Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union, Florida: Academic International Press, 1991, Vol. 4
  27. ^ CSIRKÉS Ferenc: Nemzeti tudomány és nemzetközi politika Vámbéry Ármin munkásságában. http://www.matud.iif.hu/2013/08/07.htm
  28. ^ ERICKSON, Edward J.: Ottomans and Armenians. 2013.
  29. ^ GORECZKY Tamás: Egy görög-török konfliktus története a 19. századból - az 1896-97-es krétai válság az osztrák-magyar diplomáciai iratok tükrében http://real.mtak.hu/19319/1/17-GoretzkyTamas.pdf
  30. ^ Caravans to Oblivion: The Armenian Genocide, 1915 (Hardcover) by G. S. Graber
  31. ^ President (1913–1921 : Wilson). The Inquiry. 1917-12/1918. Records of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, 1914 – 1931. Series: Special Reports and Studies, 1917 – 1918 Record Group 256: Records of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, 1914 – 1931. p. 7. 
  32. ^ Current History. 11. New York City: New York Times Company. 1920. p. 335. 
  33. ^ BOLLER, Johann Anton: Nachweis, dass das Japanische zum ural-altaischen Stamme gehört. 1857. http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/de/fs1/object/display/bsb10572378_00001.html
  34. ^ SHIBATANI Masayoshi: The languages of Japan. 1990. p.96
  35. ^ LEVENT, Sinan: Common Asianist intellectual history in Turkey and Japan: Turanism. 2015. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280490550_Common_Asianist_intellectual_history_in_Turkey_and_Japan_Turanism#pf10
  36. ^ Maciamo. "The Origins of the Japanese people". Wa-pedia. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  37. ^ "Tribe to Japan [unonoShalala_Note]". nut.sakura.ne.jp. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  38. ^ "Yayoi linked to Yangtze area". www.trussel.com. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  39. ^ "japanesesentry". japanesesentry. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  40. ^ "Japan’s ‘Internet Nationalists’ Really Hate Koreans | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  41. ^ "Jomon Culture". Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  42. ^ MOMOSE Hiroshi: Japan's Relations with Finland 1919–1944, as Reflected by Japanese Source Materials. http://eprints.lib.hokudai.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2115/5026/1/KJ00000112960.pdf

Further reading[edit]

  • Arnakis, George G. (1960). "Turanism: An Aspect of Turkish Nationalism". Balkan Studies. 1: 19–32. 
  • Atabaki, Touraj (2000). Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran.
  • Farrokh, Kaveh (2005) Pan-Turanianism takes aim at Azerbaijan: A geopolitical agenda.
  • Landau, J.M. (1995). Pan-Turkism: From Irredentism to Cooperation. London: Hurst.
  • Lewis, B. (1962). The Emergence of Modern Turkey. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Lewis, B. (1998). The Multiple identities of the Middle East. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1922). "Pan-Turanianism". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 
  • Paksoy, H.B. (1991). ‘Basmachi’: TurkestanNational Liberation Movement 1916-1930s. In Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union (Vol 4). Florida: Academic International Press. [1]
  • Poulton, H. (1997). Top Hat, Grey Wolf, and Crescent: Turkish Nationalism and the Turkish Republic. London, England: Hurst.
  • Richards, G. (1997). ‘Race’, Racism and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History. Routledge.
  • Richards Martin, Macaulay Vincent, Hickey Eileen, Vega Emilce, Sykes Bryan, Guida Valentina, Rengo Chiara, Sellitto Daniele, Cruciani Fulvio, Kivisild Toomas, Villerns Richard, Thomas Mark, Rychkov Serge, Rychkov Oksana, Rychkov Yuri, Golge Mukaddes, Dimitrov Dimitar, Hill Emmeline, Bradley Dan, Romano Valentino, Cail Francesco, Vona Giuseppe, Demaine Andrew, Papiha Surinder, Triantaphyllides Costas, Stefanescu Gheorghe, Hatina Jiri, Belledi Michele, Di Rienzo Anna, Novelletto Andrea, Oppenheim Ariella, Norby Soren, Al-Zaheri Nadia, Santachiara-Benerecetti Silvana, Scozzari Rosaria, Torroni Antonio, & Bandelt Hans Jurgen. (2000). Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. American Journal of Human Genetics, 67, p. 1251–1276.
  • Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Searle-White, J. (2001). The Psychology of Nationalism. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Toynbee, A.J. (1917). Report on the Pan-Turanian Movement. London: Intelligence Bureau Department of Information, Admiralty, L/MIL/17/16/23.
  • Stoddard, T. Lothrop. “Pan-Turanism”. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 11, No. 1. (1917): 12–23.
  • Zenkovsky, S. A. (1960). Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia. Cambridge-Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Zeman, Zbynek & Scharlau, Winfried (1965), The merchant of revolution. The life of Alexander Israel Helphand (Parvus). London: Oxford University Press. See especially pages 125–144. ISBN 0-19-211162-0 ISBN 978-0192111623

External links[edit]