Werewolves of Turkish Mythology
Dog-headed people mentioned in Turkish, Indian, Chinese, and European mythologies are “itbarak”. The conflict between dog-headed people and Oghuz Turks.
An important part of the Oghuz Khan legends was about the raids on dog-headed people. The Turks used to call these tribes “it-barak”. The word “it” used to mean “dog” among old Turks, which is still the same today. The word “barak” was a kind of dog. According to other beliefs, “barak” is the name of a black and furry dog breed.
The Origin of Kipchak and “Itbarak”
Itbarak is mentioned in Turkish legends and is the name of dog-headed creatures that look like humans, living in the northwest of the Turkish regions of that time (South Siberia and Central Asia) and which the Turks often fight against. It was mentioned as a “very fluffy dog” for the first time in legends. According to Oghuz Khan legends, the home of itbarak was in the dark country that headed to the northwest.
Oghuz Khan raided itbarak but lost the battle and had to take shelter in a small islet in the middle of a river between the mountains… In this islet, the wife of one of the soldiers who died in the battle had to give birth. However, Oghuz Khan, who sheltered here did not have any tent or home here.
The woman had to enter the hollow of a tree and had to give birth here. Oghuz Khan was happy because the woman gave birth without any problems and named the kid Kipchak. According to ancient Turkish legends, the word Kipchak means the hollow of a tree. As it is known, Kipchak is a crowded Turkish community living in a wide geography from the west of the Altai mountains to the interior parts of Southern Russia.
In the origin myth of Uyghurs, the ancient Uyghur ancestors were born in a beech tree located in an islet between the mountains. Considering these legends, it can be easily understood that old and common motifs of Turkish mythology could be seen frequently in these raids, which were shown as historical events.
However, this was a legend. However, it also includes historical events in it. It seems like Turks got the beautiful women in the area and created a new generation with them. Maybe, the mother of Kipchak was no one but a beautiful itbarak woman. Later, Kipchak was assigned by Oghuz Khan to these areas to rule and the northern countries were always ruled by his descendants.
Kipchak people also spoke Turkish and had Turkish culture. However, the Oghuz legend was claiming that the lineage of Kipchak was not coming from Oghuz Khan but from one of his soldiers. Kipchaks went to the north, increased their population there, and created a new Turkish tribe with the locals in the area.
Itbaraks in European Mythology
Dog-headed people were also found in European and Indian mythologies. There are many legends about dog-headed people in Ancient Greek mythology. Dog-headed people were mentioned in European mythologies after these times too. Europeans name this dog-headed tribe Borus and claim they used to live between today’s Finland and northern Russia.
Itbaraks in Oghuz Khan were also roughly living in the same areas. In this sense, there is a connection and similarity between Europe and Greek mythologies and Turkish mythology. The dog-headed people motif must be a legend that was taken from outside among Turks. However, Turks did not give importance to dogs. According to Turks, dogs were inferior animals. This is why dog-headed people in Turkish mythologies have always despised it.
Dog-Headed People in Indian Mythology
We also encounter legends about dog-headed people in Indian and southern regions. Indian mythology gave more importance to dogs. Therefore, the dog-headed people in Indian mythology used to represent noble Indians but not the inferior class.
The Wolf-Headed Ancestor of Tardush Turks
Although the motif is seen in ancient Greek and Europe, we see similar incidents in Turks too. For example, the ancestor of Tardush Turks, which were an important part of the Eastern Gokturk state, was a person “with wolf head and the human body.”
Although the motif is seen in ancient Greek and Europe, we also see similar incidents in Turks. For example, the ancestor of Tardush Turks, which were an important part of the Eastern Gokturk state, was a person “with wolf head and the human body.”
Dog-Headed People in Chinese Legends
Dog-headed people were also mentioned in Chinese legends. According to the Chinese, some nations living in northern China and Manchuria were dog-headed people. These legends started to be told in Chine in ancient times. The dog-headed legends of China are older compared to the legends in Greece.
Mongols living in the north of Manchuria used to give great importance to dogs. For them, the dog was both sacred and ancestor of their own nation. Therefore, it is not possible to figure out whether the dog-headed motif in the Oghuz Khan legend came from China or Europe.
Oghuz legends, which were written in the Chengiz Khan period, used to be mostly written by writers who were interested in the West. Therefore, the dog-headed people in the Oghuz Khan legend believed to be live in the area between Northern Russia and Finland. Unfortunately, we do not have any written records about this topic. Despite this, “dog-headed” people living in Northern Manchuria are mentioned in ancient Turk legends.
Some Mongolian tribes believe they are descended from the dog. Barak is not a regular dog and is considered sacred. The Dog ancestor is often found in the Mongol tribes. The legendary dog-headed people are also called Barak. The ancestor of Tardush is also a human with a wolf or Barak head. According to Hun – Hungarian legends of European origin, European Huns (Hungarians) are descended from the hound ancestor. Hungarians call the dog Kutya and the similarity of this word with the Turkish – Mongolian word “Kut” is remarkable.
During the creation of man, the god left the guard of man to a dog but he betrayed his duty. It is considered the ancestor of some Mongolian tribes and “Kitans”. Therefore, they sacrifice the dog. There are also old Mongolian tribes, which they believe are descended from the Dog Ancestor, which married a princess.
In Turkish – Mongolian culture, half-human and half-animal beings always have their bottom part animal and upper part human. However, this is just the opposite in some other cultures. For example, in Egyptian culture, there are gods with human bottom and animal top. In this sense, Barak Ancestor conflicts with the general understanding of Turkish mythology. Just as in Egyptian legends, it has a dog head. This motif may be associated with a hero called “Köbek”, “Kübek”, or “Köpük” in stories (the Turkish word for dog is Köpek). The foundation legend of the Baraktam City in Turkestan is also associated with Barak Ancestor
Mother Barak – It is the name given to “Dog Goddess” in Turkish mythology. Mother Barak (Köpek Ana, Köbek Ene) is known as Nokay Eçe among the Mongols. Some Mongolian tribes believe they are descended from dogs. It is associated with the Turk-Mongol tribe called Nogay. This motif may be associated with a hero called “Köbek”, “Kübek”, or “Köpük” in stories (the Turkish word for dog is Köpek).
In Oghuz legend, it is told that Barak Tribe (The Itbarak raids of Oghuz Khan) men have dog faces (or as ugly as it) but on the contrary, women are extremely beautiful and attractive. Therefore, although Mother Barak is perceived as the tribe, which this tribe was descended from, there is no definite information or evidence about it.