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[Masters of Our Culture]


DEDE KORKUD      


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There is not certain information about by whom Dede Korkud Stories, having a significant place in Turkish culture, were first made up and about the real life of Dede Korkud, who is the storyteller of these stories.

It is not possible to enlighten the real name, life, the age and the location of Dede Korkud with current sources and hearsays. It is stated that Dede Korkud belonged to Bayat Tribe and it is said in other sources that he was the son of Kara Hoca. Ebulgazi also stated that he belonged to Kayi tribe and the he was the son of Karnis Han. Some rumors claim that he descended from the prophet Ishak.

As inferred from legends, Dede Korkud has a sacred and wise personality. It is narrated in Oguzname that Dede Korkud lived for 295 years and was sent as an ambassador to the prophet Mohammad. In some other sources, it is stated that he was qualified as a statesman and he was serving as if a vizier for Oguz Han. The fact that Dede Korkud had many personalities leads us to think that similar men living in different times and places could be named as one person in legends. However, it is possible that these personalities are just made-ups of the folk.

Dede Korkud was an adviser and a wise respected and consulted by everybody from ordinary people to statesman. His wisdom was educational, informative and critical. In his stories, Dede Korkud had a character of a saint. Oghuz consulted him in important issues. He was a great poet telling oracular sayings and playing a lute. His lute was also as respected as he was. It is believed that the pray of Dede Korkud is thought be accepted by God, he had the God-given power of working miracles, whatever he wished turned to be real, the Almighty inspired his heart, therefore he was able to divines and have news from future.

It is understood that the word “Korkud” is a nickname and a title rather than a name. The word “Dede” is supposed to be used to mean ancestry. It is used to mean folk wise having a great respect and holiness mostly among folk in epics.

The original title of the book is "Kitab-i Dede Korkut Ala Lisan-ı Taife-i Oguzan". It means Dede Korkud Book in the Oghuz Language. Twelve stories and a prologue comprise the bulk of the work.

The stories tell the lives of Muslim Oghuz in the neighborhood of Northeastern Anatolia. However, as it bears traces of pre-Islamic periods, it is assumed that these epics had been formed earlier. In the book, twelve stories are linked to one another with the fact that heroes such as Salur Kazan and Bayindir Han and time and locality are joint points and Dede Korkud emerges in every story. It is supposed that two copies available today were written during the collapse of Akkoyunlu State. One of the copies is completed and is available in the Royal Library of Dresten. Another incomplete manuscript bearing six stories is in the Vatican Library.

The language of the stories is very simple though they were written down in the 15-16th centuries. Simple and plain sentence structure that can be easily understood by everybody is applied to pure and clear Turkish. There are a few words with Arabic origins. Stories are usually written in verse form and harmoniously. Though some of the verses are not rhymed, they have a way of saying that sounds pleasant. There are approximately 8,000 different words and idioms in the book. Sentences are short and simple. Each of the twelve epics in the book was attributed to a tribe. In these epics, there are chapters such as events that the rulers of the tribes experienced, naming, fighting with creatures.

Daily and simple events got rid of the intensity of extraordinary events are subjected in epics. Stories usually begin with events seeming simple but in the end turns into an epic affecting the whole Oghuz tribe. Lessons are given and the folk is aimed to be informed in the stories; epic historical events are narrated. Religious beliefs of Oghuz in epics for example that they had their ritual ablution from pure water in the Alps before fighting against infidels and perform the namaz consisting two prescribed postures (rekat), the financial condition of the folk and that the Oghuz mainly lived on stockbreeding are easily inferred from nearly every story. It is stressed that the prosperity is realized not via possession but via bravery in the Oghuz. It is discussed that young men should show bravery in order to receive a name. Dede Korkud named the boy having demonstrated bravery. His naming was generally related with braveries demonstrated by the young man. For example; Bogac Han was named as ‘Bogaz’ as he had throttled a bull. The Oghuz are humiliated if they do not do their actions by themselves. They do not accept help in order not to lose their supremacies. And in the story of Kazan Han, Kazan Han tied the shepherd to a tree in order to hinder his help.

Women have a say in the stories. She can participate in governing. A woman looks for a strong and brave man for getting married to. She also fights if it is required but her fighting humiliates the man.

Though how an ideal Oghuz Alp should be is mainly narrated in the epics, everybody shares what happens to Alps. The fact that nobility and strength lies in virtue and capability is stated on all occasions. Fighting against foes is an indicator of bravery and nobility. Lessons are not just these. Some of these lessons are directly directed towards the state and governors and some of them are towards the folk and nation.

The idea to continue the Oghuz union is handled as a general principle. It is advised that state and statesman should bear economic power, capability, virtue and command; Alps should be capable in shooting an arrow and drawing a bow and know how to defeat their foes in a war, defense their countries, be rich and generous, alley hungry people hunger, helping the poor, be pitiful and generous toward the folk, not humiliate their descendants in order to continue this union. It is demanded that the folk should have morals and qualifications such as the fact that they should be obedient to the God and the Prophet, faithful to the state, respectful toward their parents, hospitable, honest, brave, faithful to their spouses, not gossip, not be coward, bring up their children well, carry out their duties in epics.