As the ancient Turkic tribes were more nomad than settler, and because they interacted greatly with other tribes and clans, their mythology evolved rapidly. When you look at the creatures and monsters of the old Turkic mythology, you will notice many similarities with those of the Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian mythologies. In later stories, you start seeing creatures from Greek and Eastern European mythologies for the same reason. When the Turks chose the Muslim religion, nearly all the creatures evolved into djinns (as the djinn is the most feared mystic creature in the Muslim religion), and later on, they were all but forgotten.
I will write here about some creatures and monsters of the ancient Turkic mythology, and I will try to point out similarities with other myths whenever possible.
Asena is the name of a she-wolf, or sometimes one of the sons of the wolf whom she gave birth to, and this has a very important place in the Oghuz Turkic foundation myth. There are different myths about how the Turkic nations were founded, but they all involve wolves with different names. One of the reason why wolves were associated with the Turks was because these nomads frequently encountered wolves on the mountains, and as they studied them, they discovered many characteristics that they could identify with themselves, so they believed they were descended from them.
The oldest written legend of Asena can be found in antique Chinese documents. These tell the story of a young boy who survives a great battle but is injured in the process. A female wolf finds the injured child and nurses him back to health. This she-wolf is later impregnated by the boy, and she escapes her enemies by crossing the western sea and coming to a cave near the Qocho mountains and the city of the Tocharians. There she gives birth to ten half-wolf, half-human boys. One of them is called Asena, and he goes on to found and lead the Asena clan, which ruled over the Göktürk and other Turkic nomadic empires.
In other tales, Asena is actually the she-wolf who gave birth to the ten boys. These boys later grew up, got married, and had children themselves, thus quickly growing in numbers and coming to be called the Asena Clan.
This myth has a striking resemblance to the old Roman myth of Romulus and Remus, which is quite interesting seeing as the Turks and Chinese hadn’t yet interacted with the Romans.
These are also known as Abasi, Albiz, Albasti, and Alkarisi. Abasy are believed to be spirits that live underground and harm people. They are described as having one leg (if any), one eye, and bald heads. They have teeth made out of iron, and they eat carcasses and have the ability to steal people’s souls. They can be appeased by blood sacrifices.
Also known as Baycura, these were believed to be small pantry elves/goblins, and with the Muslim religion, they were believed to be house djinns. They are described as women dressed in red dresses. They usually hide under the roof or in pantries or cellars. They make lots of noise without any concern. They like a beverage called Kuves, and when they get angry, they break the dishes. They prefer staying in dirty houses and hate clean houses. They are also known to play pranks on a house’s residents, sing, dance, and hide stuff. They can unlock or lock doors and usually are active during the nighttime. Aside from the way they look, their attitudes and attributes make them resemble poltergeists.
Also known as Demir Tırnak (Iron Nail), this foul-smelling creature was said to live in the Bigadic mountains of Balikesir. Although it’s not mentioned in many stories, it’s believed to be a very evil creature with the ability to shapeshift and make such awful sounds that people go crazy when they hear them. It’s only weakness is water, so the only way to survive an attack is to jump into a nearby lake or river.
Also known as Khyrtyq, this creature was first known as an evil female swamp demon. According to the stories, she used to live near swamps or the thickets near rivers and lakes. She was covered with feathers, and although she had the ability to shapeshift and disguise her feathers, they would always still be there. The best way to defend yourself against a hirtik is therefore with fire. When the Turks accepted the Muslim religion, the Hirtik evolved into a male djinn but kept all the other features. It was believed to live near Elazig, especially near the Firat River. Another belief was that the Hirtik liked riding horses, so when people found their horses sweaty and tired in the morning, they used to apply a sticky substance over their backs, so if Hirtik tried to mount the horse again, his feathers would stick to the horse, make him very uncomfortable, and cause him to escape and never mount that horse again.
This creature, also known as Kallikantzaros, is a goblin that can be found in South-Eastern European and Anatolian mythologies. Stories about very similar creatures with similar names can also be found in Greek, Bulgarian, and Cypriot mythologies.
In old Turkish mythology, it was believed to be a small, black, ugly, and furry creature, no bigger than a monkey. Although it was believed to be relatively harmless, people feared its scary appearance. It usually strolled around towns after sunset in winter. The most interesting thing about this creature is this: If you ever encounter it at night, it will likely stop you and ask questions like “Where are you coming from?” or “Where are you going to?” The best way to avoid his wrath is to give short answers that have the word “kara” (Kara means black in Turkish ) in it. Answers like “I’m going to Ankara” or “I’m coming from Karahisar” will make this creature happy and get him to leave. But if you reply to him with a word without “kara” in it, he will take out a huge comb and beat you with it. In the old days in winter, people would hide their combs at night, as Karakoncolos was known to steal combs from houses.
Another belief is that Karakoncolos could mimic the voices of loved ones, and in cold winters, he would sometimes call people out from their warm houses using this ability. People would then usually lose their way and freeze to death.