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Mythical Creatures in Turkic Folk Tales

Updated on March 31, 2018
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Niina is a folklorist and a storyteller who loves to research and explore myths all around the world.

World of Turkic Myths and Legends

Turkic myths cover a wide area all the way from north eastern Russia to Caucasus mountains into the south coast of Turkey. Turkic myths are stories and legends told by people who speak Turkic languages. Because of the variety of cultures there is not one Turkic mythology but mythology is made of several different layers. Many of these stories have their roots in shamanic practices and early belief for animism. Mythical creatures are often spirits of nature and they have power to effect on the faith of humans.

Basty the spirit of nightmares
Basty the spirit of nightmares

Al Basty – Female demon. Personification of guilt who can be found from folklore throughout Caucasus mountains. Origins are in ancient Sumeria.

Archura – Forest spirit. Archura was a man who could change his size from a blade of grass to a tall tree. Protector of birds and animals. Dangerous towards humans.

Ardow – Water spirit. Ardow was a spirit of a human who had died drowning. They sucked people to swamps and lakes and killed animals that were standing next to still waters.

Azmyk – Road spirit who caused disorientation and lead person wonder aimlessly around. His name means to loose one´s way.

Basty – Spirit of nightmares. Evil spirit/imp/goblin in Turkic folklore who sat on people´s chest while they were sleeping bringing them nightmares.

Susulu the mermaid
Susulu the mermaid

Bichura – House spirit in Tatar/Turkic folklore. Every house was told to have Bichura. It was told that in it´s human form Bichura wore red dresses and that they could shapeshift themselves and take a form of a cat or a dog.

Chak – Impish devil character from Turkic folklore. He was told especially to corrupt peasants. He was most often pictured standing next to a willow tree or a at the edge of a swamp.

Chesma Iyesi – Cat shaped spirit who lived in wells and fountains. They temped children to pet them and then drowned them.

Erbörü – Turkic version of werewolf. Person in folklore who had ability to shapesift into a wolf either purposely, accidentally (being bitten by another werewolf) or after being cursed by someone.

Erbüke – Creature that was half-man, half-snake. Erbüke was believed to be a wise creature and king of the snakes.

Hortlak/Hortdan – Malevolent spirit of dead. Monster who lived in grave yards. Origins of Hortlak are in Azerbaijanese mythology.

Irshi – Fairy-like spirit. Often depicted as young beautiful women. They were radient, tall, winged, angelic spirits.

Karakoncolos – Boogeyman. In Ottoman Turkish myths they appeared in the beginning of winter ”days of the dreadful cold” standing in on dark murky corners asking seemingly ordinary questions from people passing by.

Yuxa the serpent queen
Yuxa the serpent queen

Khyrtyq – Female demon who lived in swamps, thickets and bushes near rivers, streams and lakes. In Turkic myths she was told to be dangerous and blood-thursty.

Mhackay – Vampire-like creature in Turkic/Tatar mythology. It was believed that they owned two hearts and two souls.

Neme – Elf-like creatures in Turkic folklore. Keepers on nature, mountains, forests, caves and underground.

Orek – Zombie-like creature. Animated corpse who´s actions were controlled by a witch or a shaman.

Peril – Angelic fairies. They are kind and benevolent. Perils are beautiful, exquisite, winged fairy-like creatures. They lived in separate realm to humans but occasionally visited in the realm of mortals.

Shurala/ Şüräle – Forest daemon who lived deep in the forest. Shurala had long fingers, a horn in it´s forehead and woolly ody. He lured it´s victims into thickets and tickled them to death.

Chesma Iyesi
Chesma Iyesi

Susulu – Mermaid. Susula had a upper body of a woman and tail of a fish. She was the daughter of the Sea King.

Ubir – Vampire who subsist by feeding on the life essence (in the for of blood) of living creatures.

Uylak – Spirit of an evil male cannibalistic witch/shaman . Uylak was a shapeshifter and could turn themselves into any animal or an object. They would often shapeshift into a horse, a moth or a wolf.

Yarbogha – Half-man, half-bull. They were told to be wild, savage and lustful.

Yaryond – Centaur-like creature. Half-human, half-horse. They were wild and lustful creatures.

Yuxa – The Serpent queen. According to a popular folk tale every 100 year old snake would transform into Yuxa. In legends and in fairy tales Yuxa would shape shift herself into beautiful young human maiden and would marry men in order to beget offsprings.


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