Two Mythical PANs:  

            Uses of Apocrypha Ascribed to the Turks 


                     H. B. Paksoy, D. Phil. 


     [Published in EURASIAN STUDIES (Ankara) Summer 1994.] 


   I. Now it is understood that Pan, the half-goat, half- 

   human, flute playing creature of early human 

   consciousness, was a mythical construct. However, some 

   humans are perhaps in the need of creating myths, so two 

   more were concocted during the 19th century.  


        1) "Pan-Turkism."  Also marketed as "Pan- 

   Turanianism," this notion was invented not by the Turks, 

   but by a resourceful Professor of Oriental Languages 

   teaching in a European university. It was the 1860s, and 

   the Professor was in the pay of a Great Power where the 

   people and their queen paused daily for tea. The purpose 

   of the Professor's "unity" doctrine was to urge the Turks 

   of Central Asia to combine against another Great Power to 

   the north, where people drink borscht frequently, if not 

   every day. The tea-drinking empire desired a buffer of 

   Turks to "contain" the borscht-drinking empire, which was 

   expanding and approaching the tea-drinkers' own colony, 

   the Jewel in the Crown in the south. They played this 

   "Great Game," as Kipling called it, in Asia, for the 

   European game-board was in stalemate. The borscht-drinkers 

   played the Game, too, but in reverse, and called the Turks 

   a menace, pretending --as one does in Games-- that the 

   Professor's scheme was Truth. 


        2) A second Pan was "Pan-Islam." Despite its origins 

   in the colonial world, it was yet a third European Power, 

   where the people drink beer while listening to Valkyries 

   sing, joined the Game. Even their emperor played salesman 

   to foster this second Pan within the domains of the 

   Ottoman Empire, especially among some of its leaders, as 

   the Great War --to "end all wars"-- was about to commence.  

   The aim was the same, to gain advantage over the rivals in 

   European Balance of Power struggles someplace off the 

   stalemated European game-board. Military action by the 

   Ottoman Turks would have forced the seafaring tea-drinkers 

   to move forces away from the front where they faced the 

   land-based beer-drinkers. The beer-drinkers used pan-Islam 

   also on the Caucasus front in order to outflank the 

   borscht-drinkers who were threatening to outflank the 

   beer-drinkers. And it looked as if the plan would work. 


   II. Then the borscht-drinkers became convulsed by the 

   pangs of a "bug" they caught from their ruler's way of 

   life. Their "new and improved" leadership denounced the 

   old rulers, and left the war. Later, this new leadership 

   took up the banner of Pan. The new borscht-drinkers wished   

   to use these bogus twins to put down the Central Asian 

   Turks. When this Great War ended and the Central Asians 

   were demanding access to what became known the President 

   Wilson's 14 Principles, a new Game, but not so clever, was 

   invented. The new borscht drinkers screamed loud and long, 

   declaiming the Central Asian Turk demands for 

   independence, self determination and human rights were 

   desires for "World Dominance." 


   III. That Defamation Campaign of the new borscht-drinkers 

   was quickly heard in the European domains. A tacit 

   agreement called the acceptance of the Bogus Pans to be 

   declared True, alive and menace to humanity. The Central 

   Asians were relegated to the vast dungeon that was erected 

   around their own homelands, all the European Powers were 

   happy in the knowledge that the weapon was safely and 

   mutually disarmed. President F. D. Roosevelt's call for 

   the Four Freedoms were ignored. 


   IV. The early foreign policy initiatives of some Western 

   religious leaders --the Crusades-- perhaps had shown the 

   way. Unable to find a viable solution to their own 

   domestic problems, where the masses displayed political 

   and economic dissatisfaction, rulers of the early and 

   19th-20th century "crusades" again used this "foreign 

   policy initiative" to distract their own subject 

   populations. The faithful, whose trust and sincere 

   feelings were thus betrayed and channeled away from their 

   own ruler, responded as people blindly acting. What those 

   masses did not know, they soon learned: In the 

   battlefield, the troops die; especially the ignorant.1 


   V. Times change, but apparently, not always for the good. 

   As most of the modern nations of Europe, the Turks also 

   enjoyed an Imperial period. But, unlike their neighbors, 

   who have been all but absolved of past sins committed 

   during their own Imperialism, Turks have not been. The 

   Turks are still being asked to pay the balance on their 

   "account" even after having paid the principal, an 

   exorbitant interest charge, and penalties of all types. 

   The majority of the Turks living on earth today are still 

   living on their ancestral homelands which they never left, 

   though others played Games around them and at their 

   expense. Hence the twin mythical Pans have been living 

   outside the story books whence they came.  


   VI. The Turks have been laboring under the misapprehension 

   that silence is golden, and that engaging in truthful 

   debate is "ungentlemanly." After all, did their ancestors 

   not state "Truth shall prevail?"2   The Proverb is 

   undoubtedly correct, but it does not state just when the

   promise will be fulfilled. While the truth is preparing to

   prevail, another word of their forefathers obtains: "He  who

   acquired the horse, has already left Uskudar.3  The damage is

   done, the application to join the European  Community as a

   full member is declined, economic injury continues to deepen.

   The prevarication about Barbaros Hayreddin (1466-1546), the

   Ottoman Grand Admiral, is well known: it is said that the name

   of Barbaros, the "bogeyman," is evoked along the Mediterranean

   shores by the parents of unruly children. The purpose is to

   scare the little tykes into unquestioning submission. The

   legend continues to take its toll, as the children grow into 

   statesmen and businessmen. "Tree is bent while it is 



   VII. Further, tales similar to those attributed to 

   Barbaros Hayreddin have been created in writing. One of 

   the earliest, used with immediate political intent dates 

   from 1473, twenty years after Mehmet II (1432-1481) ended 

   the Byzantine Empire. In that small work, allegedly Mehmet 

   II "...boasts of his conquests achieved or intended; the 

   replies [by his pretend European adversaries] naturally 

   contradict his assertions..." It transpired that the whole 

   work was invented by an industrious individual, claiming 

   to have translated it from Turkish, eager to show, or 

   create, the European defiance.5 


   VIII. Today it is documented that at least three hundred 

   such apocryphal letters were circulated in some half a 

   dozen languages. The purpose evidently was to frighten the 

   European readership into some sort of unity. The tracts 

   were often written by the propagandists of one Christian 

   sect, Catholic or Protestant, calling his side to unite to 

   fight the other. The allusion was if such unity is not 

   effected, the "bogeyman" Turks would come and take all.6

   It was a tactic resuscitated to create an outside 

   adversary, however imaginary, for domestic religious or 

   political purposes. The method survives and thrives today. 


   IX. Such propaganda appears not to have been new even for 

   the 15th century. It is suggested that the Prophecy of the 

   fall of the Turks was first put forth by the Byzantine 

   Emperor Leo VI (865-911), later to resurface and be 

   incorporated into the politico-religious tracts of the 

   16th century.7  Similar works were also being issued in 

   other European presses, utilizing the new invention, the 

   movable type.8 This is similar to the later campaigns 

   involving electronic dissemination media, not only limited 

   to radio, television and video cassettes; but also 

   encompassing the computer communication networks and data- 

   bases. As the earlier printed works were at first 

   invisible to the general public in the 15th century, so 

   are the contents of the computerized data-bases (such as 

   "bulletin boards") in the latter half of the 20th. In such 

   secluded environs, the seeds of discord are nurtured and 

   germinates before it is released into other forums to 

   infect the rest of the public opinion. Once again, "A fool 

   casts a stone into the well, and forty geniuses can not 

   retrieve it."9 


   X. Following other European influence patterns on the 

   Russians, such propaganda methods were also absorbed by 

   the latter. Beginning with the early 17th century, 

   translations into Russian of such apocryphal letters 

   further motivated the Russians. It is known that the early 

   diplomatic language of the Eurasian steppe was Turkish, 

   while the derivation of a ruler's election and legitimacy 

   stemmed from non-Russian sources. 10   The Turkish syntax 

   even affected the way the Rus chanceries wrote Russian, 

   and the Turkish style of writing influenced the literary 

   efforts of the Russian authors, who strove to create works 

   in that greatly admired Turkish vein.11   When inspiration 

   dried, the Russians next appear to have appropriated 

   Turkic origin literary works.12 


   XI. As the Great Game in Asia and the Eastern Question 

   reached its peak, the commentators on behalf of the 

   European players, further choosing sides, redoubled their 

   efforts. Felix Valyi defended the Ottoman Turks.13

   The diplomats at the 1919 Versailles peace conference, 

   responding negatively to President Wilson's vision of post 

   World War I world order, issued a dissent.14  Regardless of 

   the relative merits of the published words, the tone was 

   set. In the North and East, the Soviet state mechanisms 

   were set into motion, to propagate, with fresh vigor, not 

   only the twin Mythical Pans, but also the distortion of 

   the historical Turkish documents that belied the 

   apocryphal assertions.15  The young Turkish Republic, 

   having freshly completed its own War of Independence, was 

   ostracized diplomatically and economically. This would 

   continue until the prospects of another Great War  --again 

   among the same European players, with additions-- became 

   inevitable. Once again, the twin mythical Pans were 

   dragged out of the storybooks. Once again, the European 

   factions began exerting pressure, seeking to embroil the 

   Turks on their side. 


   XII. Earlier, the typical Turkish response to the mythical 

   Pans and the related apocrypha generally fell into one of 

   two categories: total silence; and stubborn adherence to 

   traditional historical literature.16  The history of one 

   group or nation can not be written in isolation, and the 

   most forceful questioners of these apocrypha placed 

   Turkish history in a global context. Perhaps the first far 

   reaching challenge against the mythical Pans was mounted 

   by Yusuf Akura in 1904.17  Kazim Karabekir followed 

   shortly afterwards, with his insightful analysis not only 

   of the Pans, but also their political origins of the 19th 

   and the 20th centuries.18  Recently, discussions of the 

   related issues began to be openly deliberated in current 



   XIII. The issues connected to the Pans and other 

   apocryphal literature are primarily concerned with the 

   definition of culture. Unless Turks envision and discuss 

   their culture and history in their own terms, without 

   reference to the perceptions and definitions of others, 

   they will remain vulnerable to manipulation in the 

   intellectual and political realms. When Braudel writes 

   French history, he does not use the paradigms of A.J.P. 

   Taylor or Toynbee. Vice versa.





   This paper was presented to the conference  "LA TURQUIE ET 



   during November 1991, jointly organized in Paris by Centre 

   d'tudes et de Recherches Internationales / Fondation 

   Nationale des Sciences Politiques. A French language 

   summary was included in the January 1992 issue of the 

   periodical Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Mediterrane orientale 

   et le monde turco-iranien, published by the organizers. 


1. For a discussion of the Great Game in context, and

its uses, see H. B. Paksoy, "Basmachi" (Turkistan

National Liberation Movement) Modern Encyclopedia of

Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union (Academic

International Press, 1991) Vol. 4. Pp. 5-20; idem, "US

and Bolshevik Relations with the TBMM (the Turkish

Grand National Assembly) Government: The First

Contacts, 1919-1921."  (forthcoming).    

2. "Dogruluk, yerini bulur."    

3. "At'i alan, Uskudar'i geti."    

4. "Agac yasken egilir."    

5. Daniel Clarke Waugh, The Great Turkes Defiance: On

the History of the Apocryphal Correspondence of the

Ottoman Sultan in its Muscovite and Russian Variants

(Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, 1978).    

6. Waugh, The Great Turkes Defiance.    

7. Repeated in Vaticinium Sever, et Leonis

Imperatorum, in quo videtur finis Turcarum in Profetia

di Severo (1596). Apparently republished in the Arabic

script by A. Fischer in ZDMG 47 during 1920.     

8. See Philipp Lonicer, Chronicorvm Turcicorvm

(Frankfurt, 1584); Johannes Leunclavius, Historiae

Mvsvlmanae Tvcorvm, De Monvmentis ipsorvm

exscriptae... (1591).    

9. "Bir deli kuyu'ya tas atmis, kirk akilli


10. Edward Louis Keenan, Jr., "Muscovy and Kazan: Some 

Introductory Remarks on the Patterns of Steppe

Diplomacy" Slavic Review Vol. XXVI, No. 4 (December,

1967); Omeljan Pritsak, "Moscow, Golden Horde, and the

Kazan Khanate from a Polycultural Point of View"

Slavic Review Vol. XXVI, No. 4 (December, 1967).    

11. Edward Louis Keenan, Jr., "The Jarlyk of Axmed-Xan

to Ivan III: A New Reading" International Journal of

Slavic Linguistics and Poetics XII, 1967. (Mouton, The


12. For the discussion pertaining to the suggested

origins of the Tale of Igor, see H. B. Paksoy, "Chora

Batir: A Tatar Admonition to Future Generations." 

Studies in Comparative Communism Vol. XIX, Nos. 3 & 4,

Autumn/Winter 1986. See also Keenan.    

13. Felix Valyi, Turk's Last Stand: The Historical

Tragedy on the Bosphorus (London, 1913) was originally

delivered as a lecture at the University of London,

and translated from French into English.   

14. Joint Note of the Allied Governments in answer to

President Wilson, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks

written by Arnold J. Toynbee (Hodder & Stoughton,

1917). Toynbee was a member of the British Delegation

to the Paris Peace Conference. See Arnold J. Toynbee

and Kenneth P. Kirkwood, Turkey (Charles Scribners,


15. H. B. Paksoy, ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity

under Russian Rule (Hartford, CT: Association for the

Advancement of Central Asian Research, Monograph

Series, 1989).     

16. For some prominent echoes of the historical

literature in more recent times, see H. B. Paksoy

"Central Asia's  New  Dastans."  Central Asian Survey

Vol. 6, N. 1, (1987); Bahtiyar Nazarov "Kutadgu Bilig:

One of the First Written Monuments of the Turkic

People" H. B. Paksoy, Editor, Central Asia Reader (NY:

M. E. Sharpe, 1994).    

17. Yusuf Akura,  Tarz-i Siyaset (Ankara: Turk Tarih

Kurumu,  1976). This essay was first printed in the

newspaper Turk  published in Cairo during 1904. For an

English translation, see David S. Thomas, "Three Types

of Policies" Central Asian  Monuments, H. B. Paksoy,

Ed. (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1992).     

18. Kazim Karabekir, Cihan Harbine Neden Girdik, Nasil

Girdik, Nasil Idare Ettik (Istanbul, 1937); idem,

Istiklal Harbimizin Esaslari (Istanbul, 1933-1951);

idem, Istiklal Harbinde Enver Pasa (Istanbul, 1967).

Though Karabekir wrote these volumes much earlier,

they could not be made available in print earlier. For

some comments on the reasons, see Erik Jan Zurcher,

"Young Turk Memoirs as a Historical Source: Kazim

Karabekir's Istiklal Harbimiz" Middle Eastern Studies

Vol. 22, No. 4, October 1986.    

19. For examples, see H. B. Paksoy, "M. Ali--Let us

Learn our Inheritance: Get to Know Yourself."  Cahiers

d'Etudes sur la  Mediterrane orientale et le monde

turco-iranien Vol. 11, No. 1 (1991);  Ayaz Malikov,

"The Question of the Turk: The Way Out of the Crisis" 

Central Asia Reader (NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1994).    .  

This counter has been placed here on 25 February 1999

Site hosted by Build your free website today!