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Folklore

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Folk Music
Minstrel Literature
Asık Veysel
Pir Sultan Abdal
Yunus Emre
Köroğlu
Folk Dance
Horon
Kasık Oyunu
Zeybek
Kılıc Kalkan
Folk Heroes
Karagöz Hacivat
Nasrettin Hoca
Folk Sports
Yağlı Güreş (Grease Wrestling)
Cirit (Javelin Throwing)
 Folk Cultures
Folk Architecture
Traditional Costumes
Turkish Proverbs
 
 

Turkish Folklore

Folk Music

Turkey has very rich folkloric traditions which have been kept alive for centuries due to the characteristics of Turkish people. Folk music accompanies Anatolian people every single moment of their lives. Every individual creates his own folk music suitable for his own situation. People create their own music, and do not write it down, but pass it from one to the other, and the "asiklar" (troubadours) who sing and play this music keep it alive. 

Minstrel Literature 

Minstrel is a kind of poet seen in the Turkish Folk Literature since the beginning of 11th Century. It is believed that minstrel takes his quality of poet by drinking the “love wine” served by the sage in his dream and by seeing the “image of his lover”. The minstrel candidate generally sees a lover or a saz (a folkloric musical instrument) in his dream. The ornament of the dream is a dervish with white beard and sometimes one sometimes three full glasses. The glass can be usually seen as a bowl in the dream. The liquids in the bowls presented to the poets are called love full. It takes the name wine with the effect of Persian Literature. These are named as; apprenticeship, quality of sage and love wine.

Our minstrels are usually educated by an expert minstrel. They learn both the expert idioms and procedure and methods about the art performance from him. After adequately comprehending the ways in which the experts perform their art at the minstrel meetings and coffeehouses frequented by wandering minstrels, the poets who have become experts take apprentices for themselves and this tradition continues in this way.

The minstrel shows his knowledge, emotion and ability in the quarrel he makes. The aim in the quarrels is to compete and win. At least two minstrels come face to face at the quarrels. The quarrel begins with a respected person in the meeting or an expert poet telling a rhyme. The quarrel ends with the defeat of the minstrel who cannot find an appropriate quatrain to the rhyme.

Story telling forms one of the main elements of Minstrel Literature. Most of the saz poets who are faithful to the tradition tell stories in the minstrel meetings. Some of the expert minstrels tell folk stories that are created by the experts and on the other hand they tell the stories they have created. Çıldırlı Aşık Şenlik, Sabit Müdami are minstrels who have contributed to the tradition from this aspect.

The representatives of this tradition, who are called Şaman by Tonguzlar, Bo or Bugue by Mongols and Baryatlar, Oyun by Yakutlar, Ozan by Oğuzlar, have expressed the life style, thoughts and feelings, points of view of the society to the events by their poems.

Yunus Emre, Pir Sultan Abdal, Köroğlu, Dadaloğlu, Karacaoğlan, Erzurumlu Emrah, Ercişli Emrah, Dertli, Aşık Veysel have been the most important representatives of this tradition.

The tradition of minstrel is still being kept alive in the Anatolian geography today.

Asık Veysel  

Veysel Şatıroğlu was born in 1894 in Sivrialan Village of Sivas... More...

Pir Sultan Abdal 

There is no certain information about his life. He was born in the village of Banaz of Sivas. His real name is Haydar. He created his original language benefiting from the oral literature, without being affected by the Classical School of Poetry.

Yunus Emre 1238 - 1320 

One of the greatest and the deepest poets of the Turkish folk literature. Yunus Emre is a great poet who managed to turn the Anatolian dialect into a language of literature and who succeeded in reciting poetry and chanting hymns in pure Turkish. He has written about issues which looked extremely complex.

Written in a pure and easily understood Turkish, some of his poems, which seem to be over simple at first glance, carry a deep meaning and have a certain quality which grips the reader and excites him, weaving a special magic. Yunus in most of his poems declares his great love for the God. He has felt the elusive excitements of the love of God and also made others to feel it.

Köroglu 16th Century

The first information about Köroğlu depends on the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi. According to the book of travel, there is one Köroğlu, a poet who became famous by playing çöğür (a popular instrument played with a plectrum) and by singing in the Corps of Janisseries, and one Köroğlu who waylaid in the mountains. 

It is deemed that Köroğlu lived in the 16th century and he is accepted as an epic hero famous for his equality, justice and personality supporting the poor people

Folk Dance

Turkish folk dance is also very alive and variant. Each region has its characteristic dance with particular costumes, steps, rhythms and instruments. Every region's dance reflects the characteristics of that region's people. Turkish people are very inventive, creating new dances for different situations. 

There are particular dances for weddings, for harvest or for guest welcoming and so on, "Horon" a very fluid and swift dance, is particular to the Black Sea Region;

"Kasik Oyunu" played with spoons, is performed in from Konya to Silifke;

"Kilic-Kalkan" practiced in Bursa in memory of the capture of the city by the Ottomans; 

"Zeybek" particular to the Aegean Region, symbolizes courage and heroism.

Folk Heroes

Very important figures in Turkish folklore are Karagoz and his friend Hacivat. According to the legend, they were working as workmen in the construction of Bursa Ulu Mosque. Their satiric jokes made the sultan very angry and anxious about whether Karagoz and Hacivat could arouse some thoughts about the abuses of the, state in the minds of ,others, so they were condemned to death. 

The construction of the mosque was completed without them, but their comrades did not forget them and they kept their jokes alive, telling them over, and over. In time. the adventures of Karagoz and Hacivat gained a different extension and the traditional Turkish shadow puppet theater was born. Shadow puppets cut from camel hide, painted to look like Karagoz and Hacivat are held against a wide white cloth and operated as a strong light shines from behind. Karagoz and Hacivat come to life again and reached, today, also with the addition of some new characters. 

The stories include everything about human existence, from moral plays to the classic encounters between husband and wife. Unfortunately, the shadow theaters are not seen today except in a few places and on some special occasions. In Bursa, the Karagoz Antique Shop sometimes organizes shadow puppet theater plays and often has modern duplications of Karagoz and Hacivat, for sale.

Turkish folklore is very much varied, there are some celebrated characters who reflect the peculiarities of Turkish people. Nasreddin Hoca is the best-known figure who has many legendary encounters with kings and common people. While seeming to act the fool, Nasreddin Hoca actually displays the folly of the other. Stories about Hoca have varied with the years and with the interpretation of the storytellers. They mostly begin, "One day Hoca..." and go on with his adventures.

 

Folk Sports

There are also some folkloric sports which are also occasions for celebration. They are very typical and traditional, and it is recommended that you try to witness some of these; you will find it really interesting. "Grease Wrestling" (yagli gures) is the Turkish national sport dating from Ottoman times and every year in July wrestling championships are held in Kirkpinar, outside Edirne. The contest is made more difficult by the fact that the wrestlers smear themselves with oil. The army was kept in good physical condition by this sport. 

"Cirit" (javelin-throwing) is a fast-paced game played on horseback. The origin of this sport is in Central Asia, where it was developed by the soldiers in order to improve their fighting skills. Riders on fast horses throw short javelins to teammates who are also on horseback. The most important rule is to catch the javelin while flying. This game is mostly performed in Konya and Eastern Turkey.

 

Folk Cultures

Folk Cultures...

Folk Architecture

Folk Architecture...

Traditional Costumes

Traditional Costumes...

Some Proverbs 

Oral tradition continues with proverbs. Considering daily life, proverbs embody the deepest feelings and beliefs of the Turkish people. They reveal a nation's character in its finest details.

Below are some typical Turkish proverbs :

  • Stretch your legs to the length of your blanket. (Know your limits)

  • Water priority to the youngsters, talking priority to the elders.

  • Who handles honey has the chance to lick his fingers.

  • When a bald man dies, everybody remembers "what golden hair he had"; when a blind man dies, they say "what beautiful eyes he had".

  • Two tightrope walkers cannot perform on the same tightrope.

  • A vinegar seller with a smiling face makes more money than a honey seller with a sour face.

  • The hunter may be hunted.

  • You reap whatever you sow.

  • A tree is bent while yet it is young.

  • If God wants to make a poor man happy he first makes him lose his donkey and then allows him to find it again.

  • There is nothing more expensive than what is bought cheaply and there is nothing cheaper than what is bought expensively


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