What do the Turks think of the Persians

Erika Glassen:

When we enter the realm of the snake queen Sahmeran, we get into a magical world where magical powers are at work that confuse our sense of space and time. The boundaries between the real world, which with its banal reality and a shaky topographical framework still remains perceptible, and the fantastic world in which the "human children" - as the snake queen calls us - fairies, giants, demons, talking animals, hermaphrodites Encountering angels, prophets and saints are permeable. The well, which Sahmeran uses to store honey, and the Chinese wall, whose only gate can only be opened by the angel Gabriel or the prophet Hızır, serve as border crossings. Sahmeran has her summer residence on Mount Kaf, where the miracle bird Simurg alias Zümrüt Anka tends to land, who from time to time also transports lost human children, and where, as we learn from the story of Noah, the ark is also stranded. This enchanted world of oriental fairy tales is over for us Thousand and one Night familiar. In the confusing, heterogeneous, inexhaustible Arabic narrative it is impressively documented that the Muslim peoples of the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Indians, etc., who today also go their own way culturally in independent nation states, cultivated a rich, common tradition of fairy tales and myths in the pre-modern era . They owe this to their holy book, the Koran, in which, like Goethe in West-Eastern Divan emphasizes that there is some "fairytale" to be found. Especially the passages about the life of the prophets Noah, Abraham, Solomon and Joseph form the basis for fantastic, popular stories. The existence of the Djinns (demons) is documented by the Koran, one encounters Zulkarneyn, the two-horned man (i.e. Alexander the Great), who drank from the water of life, and learns about Solomon's ability to understand the language of birds. Even the concept of the "mad poet", as "Mecnun" also became a metaphor for the mad lover among the Turks, comes from the holy book. Yes, the 12th sura, which is dedicated to Joseph's fate and in which Allah initially informs the prophet that he will now reveal to him the "most beautiful story", later has Persian and Turkish poets on extensive epics about the lovers "Joseph and Suleika" stimulated.

The rudimentary nature of many of the stories in the holy book encouraged the authors of the Qur'an Commentaries, the traditional literature, and the stories of the prophets to embellish additions, and this secondary religious tradition became much more popular with the common people than the Qur'an because it was often transmitted orally by preachers, but soon also in the other Islamic cultural languages ​​was transferred. Because the holy Arabic book was not allowed to be translated, which meant that the non-Arabic Muslims mumbled the verses they had learned by heart like magic formulas.

The holy book in Arabic and the dominance of the Arabs meant that the conquered peoples developed their own Islamic literary languages ​​relatively late after their conversion. This also applies to the Iranians and the Turks who migrated west from Central Asia, whose history and literature interests us here. If we follow the development history of the Ottoman-Turkish language and literature, it is noticeable that the influence of Persian literature on Turkish had a particularly formative effect. There are geographical and historical reasons for this. The Iranians came into contact with the Turkic peoples in Transoxania as early as pre-Islamic times.

There, the Turks have largely adopted the Islamic religious tradition from the Persians, who converted to Islam early on. In the principalities established by Islamized Turks, Iranian viziers often set the tone and established Persian as the official language. Turkish rulers acted as patrons of Persian poets and thereby accelerated the process of establishing New Persian as the second literary language of Islam. This close political-cultural symbiosis, which connected the Iranians and Turks in Central Asia and Horasan and which was mutually beneficial, was even consolidated in Asia Minor after the western migration of the Oguz-Turkish tribes, to which the Seljuks and Ottomans belonged. The Islamization and Turkishization of Asia Minor was a long process that began with the victory of the Greater Seljuks over a large Byzantine army at Malazgirt in 1071. Even before the complete collapse of the Byzantine Empire, a cultural center developed under the Turkish Seljuks in the Central Anatolian city of Konya in the 13th century, in which the Persian language and literature were cultivated. The great Persian poet Celâleddîn Rûmî, who had fled the Mongol storm from Balkh with his father, worked there. The Turks affectionately called him Mevlânâ, our Lord, because his mystical epic, called Mesnevî (the double rhyming), became almost a holy book for the Persians and especially the Turks alongside the Koran. As has been proven, Mevlânâ processed many popular stories from his new home in Anatolia in his Mesnevî. The Sufi order named after him, the Mevlevîs, the dancing dervishes, has always been considered tolerant. Asia Minor has always been a melting pot of different ethnicities and religions, and the beliefs and customs of the local Greeks, Armenians, Kurds and others mixed with those who had imported Turks from Central Asia. Yunus Emre (around 1240-1320), highly admired by all Turks, is one of the popular poets of Sufi stamp. The Tekerleme poems that precede our volume also come from this milieu of early Anatolian mysticism.

From the fourteenth century onwards, the Ottomans, another Oguz-Turkish tribe, gradually gained the upper hand in Asia Minor and in large parts of the Balkans; a triumphal march that culminated in the decisive defeat of the Byzantines and the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. At the court of the Ottomans in the new capital Istanbul, Ottoman-Turkish finally became a recognized Islamic cultural language. But the Ottoman Turks always remained Iranophile in the field of literature, even when the two peoples had been politically and religiously hostile to each other since the establishment of the Twelve Shiite Safavid Empire of Iran around 1500. Ottoman-Turkish courtly poetry, the so-called divan poetry, which paid homage to a mixed language with many loanwords from Arabic and Persian and a refined poetology, and even adopted the quantitative Aruz meter, remained a domain of the educated class. The genres of the classical Islamic literatures of the Arabs and Persians were imitated and modified. These included the poem forms (Kasside, Gazel, quatrain) and also the rhyming epics (Mesnevî) created by the Persians, such as the heroic epic, the mystical didactic poem and especially the popular romantic epics in which the fates of famous lovers were depicted. In addition, rich folk poetry and storytelling flourished in Anatolia in simple Turkish, which for a long time was based on oral tradition and was strongly influenced by Islamic mysticism. But even on this folk level, diverse original elements from the entire Islamic cultural area and the local environment were mixed kaleidoscopically in the themes and motifs.

This brief historical account of the intricate cultural and political constellations in the multiethnic Islamic world can perhaps illustrate how difficult it is to identify genuine Turkish traditions in Anatolia. In addition, the educated Osmanlıs were not very interested in folk literature. As recently as the 19th century, they disqualified the Turkish colloquial language as coarse Turkish (Kaba Türkçe), in fact they did not want to be called Turks themselves. So it is not surprising that folklore research started late and was initially carried out by Western Turkologists. The Hungarian Ignacz Kunos had a pioneering effect. He had studied Turkish studies with Hermann Vambery in Budapest and set out as a young idealistic scholar to collect evidence of Turkish folk literature in Istanbul. In a series of lectures on "The Turkish Folk Literature" he describes in detail his frustrating experiences and first successes in the years 1885 to 1890 to Turkish students of the early Republican period (1925/26). This authentic autobiographical report is an invaluable historical source from which we learn how it was with the reception of popular literature in the late Ottoman Empire. Suleyman Efendi, the respected sheikh of the Özbeken-Tekke in Istanbul / Üsküdar, where the Central Asian Turks used to stop on their pilgrimage to Mecca, gave Kunos little hope of finding popular literature in the Ottoman Empire and confided to him: »The Ottoman Turks are Muslims, no nationalists. ”(Osmanlılar ehl-i Islamdır, ehl-i millet degildir.) But Kunos persisted. First he succeeded in recording songs (Türkü) - also with political allusions -, lullabies (Ninni) and alternating chants (Mani) in the "national" Turkish, syllable-counting, accentuating meter. In the holy month of Ramadan he spent almost every night after breaking the fast in a café in Istanbul / Aksaray, where he got to know and love the Turkish shadow play and its main characters Karagöz and Hacµvat. He soon published the translation of some pieces that he had recorded with the help of Turkish acquaintances. The counterpart to the shadow play, the play of the middle (Orta Oyunu) with real actors, was forbidden in Istanbul under Abdülhamid II. Kunos traveled to Eskisehir especially to experience Orta Oyunu in person.

But Kunos, who knew the German house fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, had made it into his head to collect and write down Turkish fairy tales (Masal). It seems almost grotesque that he was in the literary salon of the elegant poet Nigar Hanım (1862-1919) in the presence of the then Minister of Education Münif Pascha (1828-1910) and the well-known writer Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem (1847-1914), one of the most prominent Ottoman -Turkish novelist, i.e. in a circle of intellectuals who had turned to Western ideas, came across the first Turkish folk tales. For the young Kunos, through his enthusiastic advocacy of the Turkish vernacular - he performed some songs (Türkü) that he had collected - made this reserved group of writers think. When he complained about how desperate he was looking for folk tales (masal), the elderly mother of the Nigar Hanım timidly answered from the background. At the insistence of the guests, the old lady told the tale of the lumberjack, not without the indispensable introduction to Tekerleme. Kunos was delighted and carefully recorded tekerleme and fairy tales. By using Goethe and the Brothers Grimm as role models, he admonished the Ottoman writers to look after their own folk treasures.

The creative curiosity and successes of Kunos not only had a stimulating effect on the writers, but his publications in German and Hungarian set Turkish folklore in motion. It was an exciting process. First, Western Turkologists, including German such as Georg Jacob, Theodor Menzel and Otto Spies, collected Turkish folk literature, especially fairy tales, and published it in German. But Turkish publishers began to show interest. Orally handed down texts have been recorded since the end of the 19th century and distributed in Ottoman lithographs. The German orientalist Hellmut Ritter stayed in Istanbul as a military adjutant during the First World War and had the last court shadow player of the Ottoman sultans dictate an entire Ramadan cycle of the Karagöz shadow plays and gradually published it in three volumes. Such activities were then promoted by the state during the republic (since 1923), because the folk national heritage was cultivated under the flag of Turkish nationalism, while the complicated Ottoman standard language and divan literature fell out of favor. The rigorous language reforms aimed at eradicating Arabic and Persian words and the adoption of the slightly modified Latin alphabet in 1928, which accelerated this operation, led to the high literature of the Ottomans being forgotten. It even affected the first Turkish novels, the proud products of a westernized literary class. It was a wrong world, because instead of these novels, many of the folk books written in Arabic script at the end of the 19th century had the honor of being translated in Latin script early on. The book market was poorly stocked at the time after the alphabet reform, and the simple language of these popular stories was the official trend. They could serve as a first reading for the newly literate classes.

Here is a word attached to proper names in popular Turkish texts. They are often corrupted in the Latin script versions. But just the fact that the Turks have such a rich supply of vowels and use them more or less arbitrarily when reading the Arabic script written without vowels, that they pronounce the emphatic Arabic consonants (d and t) like a voiced s (written z) and the fact that they do not love clusters of consonants leads to the alienation of Arabic and Persian terms and proper names; one could also say that the Turkishization of all-Islamic materials gradually and almost unnoticed happened. One of the most productive Turkish researchers in the field of folklore was Pertev Naili Boratav (1908–1989), who had been collecting and publishing texts from all branches of folk literature since the 1930s, as well as writing studies on them. The standard work published in 1953 together with Wolfram Eberhard is a highlight of his work Types of Turkish folk tales. A large part of the current holdings of Turkish folk tales was collected at that time, published in various languages ​​or archived in the Ankaran Institute for Folklore, which Boratav headed until his emigration in 1945 (he was suspected of being a communist). Boratav was able to continue his research in Paris at the CNRS (Center national de la recherche scientifique). Various collections of Turkish fairy tales are now also available in German. Boratav did this with his band Turkish folk tales, which was published in 1973 by Akademie Verlag Berlin in what was then the GDR.

The Turkish Library, which has set itself the task of presenting outstanding works of modern Turkish literature since 1900, logically follows its mainstream, which traces the westernization process that determined the intellectual life of Turkey in the 20th century. But we would also like to introduce our readers to a selection of traditional materials that may perhaps be called the poetic source of the Anatolian mentality, from which all strata of the population met their early literary needs, including modern Turkish writers. As the example of Nigar Hanım's mother shows and the memoirs of high-ranking personalities reveal, it was the mothers and grandmothers as well as the servants of various ethnic origins in the mansions who introduced the children to the treasures of Anatolia's fairy tales and songs. Although the co-editor of this volume, Hasan Özdemir, at Ankara University, like Boratav, carried out intensive fairy tale research and collected and archived new texts from oral tradition himself, we have decided not to publish another fairy tale volume, but rather to focus on a different genre of folk literature to provide, namely the so-called folk novels or folk books, which, as already mentioned, have been printed since the end of the 19th century, but apparently not yet translated into German except for academic purpose-written documents. These texts were not originally intended for reading and household use, but were read by professional, mimic storytellers or singers (bards or troubadours) who referred to themselves as Asıks (lovers). These little booklets, initially furnished with primitive drawings and later with gaudy title pages and pictures, seem to have been very popular. The late Ottoman prints usually contain two narratives, one written in the center and the other around the edge. They also saw many editions in Latin script, often retold by authors who specialize in it, and were sold in mosque courtyards and by hawkers.

One of the most popular Turkish folk novels is the story of the snake queen Sahmeran.In contrast to the mostly simple, almost schematically structured Turkish fairy tales and folk books, the story of the young man Camsap and the snake queen is a complex structure, held together by a framework narrative as in Thousand and one Night, where, by the way, Seherezad also tells the story of Sahmeran. This story had a long literary career behind it before it sank to the level of a Turkish folk tale without losing its charm. Their fate exemplarily demonstrates the close connection between the Arabic, Persian and Turkish literatures and the permeability of the language barriers in the Islamic area for popular materials and their flexibility. The literary traces lead back to a pre-Islamic central Persian core. What they have in common with later versions is the figure of a sage or vizier Camasp (the Turkish camsap is a typical reading because of the accumulation of consonants). This early layer of Camaspname (Book of Camasp) is learned, moralizing dialogues about the mysteries of creation. In the Arabic version of the Thousand and one Night then the snake queen has taken on the role of the wise, moralizing being, and Hasib alias Camsap embodies the stupid fool who only becomes wise through the encounter with her. Finally, there are direct thematic and structural references between the Turkish folk book Sahmeran and the Ottoman-Turkish rhyming epic (Mesnevî) under the title Camaspname, which the poet Musa Abdi wrote at the request of the Ottoman Sultan Murat II (1421-1451). The popularity of the work is attested by the abundance of Ottoman manuscripts that can be found in old Turkish libraries. In both works the whole cosmos of the fairy tale world is present, whereby the folk tale, especially in the Latin script version, allows certain freedoms, corrupted or arbitrarily changed people and place names, added or omitted motifs and so on.

In our volume, especially in the people's book by Sahmeran, we can still find a dull reflection of the magical worldview that prevailed in premodern times, after the victory of the Sunni traditionalists over the philosophers and speculative theologians in the 11th / 12th centuries Prevailed by believers. People denounced the human mind, denied the principle of causality and believed that God worked directly through the mediation of the angels and caused every event and every action himself. Beautiful examples of this fantastic doctrine of justification can be found in our stories about the prophets Abraham and Noah. Why is the mule sterile? Allah punished it for bringing wood for Abraham's pyre. Why can the nightingale sing so wonderfully? She was rewarded by Allah for throwing herself into the fire out of love for Abraham. She was saved with him and was allowed to learn Allah's thousand secret names. When the cat is used to catch mice in the ark, Allah makes the lion sneeze and it jumps out. The elephant is used to produce the pig so that the droppings and garbage in the ark can be eaten. However, as is customary in traditional literature, all of these incredible stories are authenticated by Islamic authorities.

It was also Islamic mysticism (Sufic) that fostered an atmosphere that was reflected in the fairy tale books and folk novels. It is not by chance that the dervish or Pîr (Sufi master and patron of the Asık singers) plays a mysterious mediator role in many of our texts. However, some of the religious allusions and "superstitious" ideas have been eradicated in the arrangements made during the early Republican period. But the snake queen in particular remained largely untouchable. The reverse glass images of this hybrid creature are spread to the furthest corners of Anatolia and enjoy a certain cult status. The picture hangs in tea rooms, cafés and often in the houses of Alevites as the only wall decoration next to the portraits of Ali and Ataturk. But it was also immortalized on tiles, carved in leather (as a pause in the shadow play) and embroidered on textiles. This mysterious hybrid creature has two heads, namely the head of a beautiful woman who wears a chain around her neck and whose bosom changes into a scaly body, which in turn tapers into a snake's head. Solomon's ring is emblazoned around the serpent's neck. Both heads are crowned and a rose blooms between them. The creature usually has six (but also forty) short legs from which small snakes lick. Despite the feminine characteristics of the human head, it remains a matter of dispute whether it is a female or male creature. Sahmeran keeps all secrets and remains open to interpretation. The author and teacher Adnan Binyazar, who was born in Diyarbakµr in 1934, remembers how he was puzzled as a child by the picture of Sahmeran on the wall in the only room in his parents' house. He wasn't sure if he should fear or love this being. He only suspected that Sahmeran came from another world, where the giants (Dev) and demons (Djinns) lived. No adult could or would tell him anything more about the snake queen. For him it remained a phantom, viewed with awe, rather masculine because of the hard look in the beautiful woman's head. This secret, which is also inherent in the folk novel, has inspired several modern authors to shape the story of Sahmeran in their own way.

Tomris Uyar (1941–2003) published hers Story by Sahmeran 1973. For her, the hero Camsap is the epitome of the lazy day thief who did not learn a letter during school, but also proves to be unsuitable for the craft apprenticeship. The farewell scene to the crying mother on a stormy winter's day in Adana is a small cabinet piece in which the realistic depiction in the poetic prose that characterizes Tomris Uyar beguiles the reader. The author follows the style of the story in the folk book, but the characters break free from the paralyzed fairy tale and come to life. The dumb fool Camsap awakens from his dullness when he meets Sahmeran and he learns to ask questions. When he first met the Queen of the Snakes, he recognized her, fell on his knees in awe and sighed: “This is the beautiful Sahmeran, who seduces the youngsters in dreams on the summer nights, while she the young girls who are on the Roll over beds when her breasts become rounded, let down. "

Also Murathan Mungan (born 1955), who grew up in Mardin and has a special feel for the Anatolian narrative traditions, like the band Palace of the East in the Turkish Library, shows in his story published in 1986 Sahmeran's legs, what's in the people's book. Mungan uses a sophisticated strategy by introducing the young man Ilyas as a first-person narrator in a frame narrative, who as an apprentice to a Sahmerancı (maker and seller of Sahmeran pictures) hears the story of the serpent queen from his revered master while he is learning her form and to give face. This adds another frame to the frame narrative. Ilyas is an innocent, curious boy who identifies with Camsap and thinks about it too. Looking back, he says: "My whole life ended up being a Sahmeran story."

Sahmeran loves young people who are pure in heart and longingly cross the boundaries between the real and the fantastic world, be it in the longing search for the last prophet like Belkiya, the Jewish ruler of Egypt, or out of mad love like the king's son Cihansah from Gülistan, who wants to unite with the enchanted Peri daughter from Gevhernigin in the real world. Sahmeran tells their stories to the uninvited guest Camsap in order to pass the time in the strange world into which he has gotten through the betrayal of his comrades. Belkiya and Cihansah, too, had lost their way into the fairy tale world and had to endure dangerous adventures. The youth Belkiya had been cast onto Sahmeran's island on a stormy sea voyage, had won the serpent queen's trust, but in his impatience to try to find the beloved prophet by all means, later betrayed her whereabouts to a ruthless companion hungry for world domination. This betrayal (Ihanet) becomes Sahmeran's trauma. Mungan turns it into a kind of moral philosophy, which unfolds during the narrative breaks in conversations between Sahmeran and Camsap. Sahmeran's value system is based on love, which includes compassion and forgiveness, even if the beloved becomes a traitor. She is a pacifist, revenge is alien to her. She is also said to have a relationship with the prophet Solomon, as she wears his ring in the pictures. Sahmeran is constantly on the run from the people. Like Seherezad, she wants to save her life by telling stories, she wants to prevent or at least delay Camsap's homecoming. Whenever there is talk of the heroes Belkiya or Cihansah returning home, Camsap begs the snake queen to send him home too. Almost like a refrain, he repeats: "Every being can only live and be happy among his own kind." With Mungan, Camsap's statements almost sound like a contribution to the modern discourse on experiences of foreignness: "You can only be happy when you are with beings of your own kind. It is the same with all creatures in nature. I'm all alone here. No matter how good you treat me, I am a stranger among you. I am different, I am the other. You can't understand what it means to constantly live with this destructive feeling of being a stranger. ”When Sahmeran finally lets Camsap go out of pity, she looks after him for a long time with tears in her eyes. But Camsap is not happy in the human world. Yes, he often longs for Sahmeran, her delicate, beautiful face, her magical looks and her sweet speech, as well as the thousand magical fairytale nights. He doesn't want to be a traitor. In order to keep her secret, he lived withdrawn and lonely for years. Eventually he is found by the henchmen of the evil vizier and man-smoker. In the bathroom, the glittering scales on his abdomen reveal that he is familiar with Sahmeran. Under torture, he reveals the entrance of the well to Sahmeran's world. He meets Sahmeran again as a traitor, but she forgives him. When the vizier tries to take her, she hisses at him: "Hands off, Camsap should hug me." This heartbreaking scene that moves us to tears in the folk book when Sahmeran calls the Camsap, trembling with shame and remorse, to the execution is borne by slaughter and cooking, no one can escape. Sahmeran saves the traitor from becoming a murderer too. He should leave this dirty business to the evil vizier and give him some of their first poisonous brew to drink. This is how it happens. On her advice, Camsap drinks the second, healing brew and gradually feeds the terminally ill ruler with her meat until he is completely cured. Modern authors cannot understand a happy ending like the one offered by the popular book. Camsap is resigned to them. When the healed ruler summons his savior to reward him, to marry him to his daughter and to appoint him as a vizier, his servants search in vain for Danyaloglu Camsap. Lumberjacks claim to have seen a mad youth run into the mountains with torn off clothes and bare feet. Some also report that he was found suffocated in a certain bathhouse.

Another Turkish author has taken far greater liberties than Tomris Uyar and Murathan Mungan. Erhan Bener (1929–2007) let himself be drawn to his drama through the popular book Sahmeran (1985) inspire. Camsap is not the lazy, foolish youth here, but the well-off son of his wise father Danyal. He cherishes the book he has inherited, finds in it the picture of the beautiful, virtuous Sahmeran, falls in love with her, and sets off with his dodgy friend Sehmur. It's a fateful day in the snake kingdom. In a dream Sahmeran also fell in love with a son of man, who soon stands before her in person in the form of Camsap. Their marriage is happy, but not long unclouded, because the social revolutionary Camsap is driven back to earth, where he wants to fight against the injustice of the rulers and the exploitation of the people.

Sahmeran can be understood, as modern authors do, as a being who embodies love, reconciliation and forgiveness as a moral authority, but the power of evil to which people have fallen, their cunning, their greed and their betrayal has not grown. The snakes complain to Erhan Bener that they were mistakenly accused, cursed and hunted, even though Sahmeran only taught love to Adam and Eve at the command of the Creator God.

Now there are quite a number of Turkish folk novels devoted to amour fou, crazy love. The archetype of the madly lover is the Arab Bedouin shoot Kays, who fell in love with the girl Leyla from another tribe as a schoolboy. She returns his love, but it is primarily the innocent fervor of youthful souls who are drawn to one another. It was only when Leyla's mother forbade her harmless meetings out of concern for her daughter's chastity that love broke out as a pathological passion and turned Kays into a Mecnun (madman), who, obsessed with love, merged with nature and everywhere Leyla, the object of his love, seeks and sees. The exuberantly poetic tone of the story reveals something of the mystical dimension inherent in Amour fou. From this cycle of popular romance novels, we have transcribed some of the best-known in a short version with the help of various old prints. Here, too, it is initially a matter of substances that were generally owned by the Islamic cultural community. The classic pairs include next to Leyla and Mecnun also Yusuf and Züleyha, a free arrangement of the 12th sura of the Koran, in which the wife of the Egyptian Aziz (in the Bible Potiphar's wife) does not yet have a name, and finally Ferhat and Sirin, a pair of lovers who already appear in the pre-Islamic Iranian heroic epic. Initially, these love affairs were treated in the classic neo-Persian love epic and were soon copied by several Ottoman-Turkish court poets. Then they gradually sank to the level of (Turkish) folk literature, where they were particularly popular. The respective specific love relationships have been exaggerated into the metaphorical or have become proverbial. The Turkish folk poets couldn't get enough of it and invented new lovers who emulated Leyla and Mecnun. We have selected some famous, genuinely Turkish-Anatolian creations, namely Kerem and Aslı, Tahir and Zühre as Derdiyok and Zülfisiyah, which can be classified in the special Turkish category of Asık novels (stories about traveling singers). At the same time, we can give the readers an impression of Asık poetry in simple Turkish in meter counting syllables. Although some of the stories are given abbreviated, this is the story Derdiyok (Painless) and Zülfisiyah (Black Valley) almost completely translated, because the milieu of the Asık singers, which is located in the Anatolian bazaars and coffee houses, can be felt here. Yes, even a singing contest, as it was common among the traveling Asık singers, occurs on the sidelines. This is also an example of how the lover (‘âsiq, so literally in Arabic) becomes an Asık (traveling singer) through love. The Pîr, the patron saint of the Asık singers, gives him, often also the beloved, to taste the love wine in a dream at the initiation. Love loosens his tongue, and his beloved can suddenly write poetry and sing too. So they meet in alternate song in the exuberance of their feelings. On the other hand, apart from a few tender kisses and hugs, the physical union of love hardly plays a role. The Turkish popular Asık novel thus presents a refined, almost mystical conception of love. The lover seems almost unreachable due to separation, the Asık has to travel after her, and the lovers are often only united in death, like Kerem and Aslı as ashes and Tahir and Zühre in the grave, above which two rose bushes lean towards each other. The love of these couples is predetermined by fate.

There is also a social component: especially for the mother, the fact that her daughter is publicly sung about in songs is a violation of honor. A girl must not become an object of love, even if the fiancé is the lover. So the parents are usually the cause of the separation. In the story of Kerem and Aslı it is the religious difference.This material was made into an opera by the Turkish composer Adnan Saygun (Kerem and Aslı, 1952) processed. There is a poem by Nâzım Hikmet (1902–1963) Kerem gibi (Like Kerem) with the often quoted line "I want to be ashes, burn like Kerem", and he has treated Yusuf and Züleyha as well as Ferhat and Sirin in dramas he wrote in Bursa prison.

In addition to romance novels, stories that tell of battles and adventures of famous heroes were particularly popular. These included fighters from the Wars of Religion and Conquest, such as Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, or Battal Gazi, an Arab military leader against the Byzantines. These texts are numerous and extensive. As the oldest written western Turkish heroic novel The book by Dede Korkut Recently published in German translation, we have chosen this genre of popular heroic novels for the famous Köroπlu (son of the blind man) decided, which was known among all Turkic peoples from Central Asia to the Balkan provinces and is still today. There are an infinite number of local branches and variants of the narrative, which in modern times has been processed everywhere by Turkish artists into plays, films, operas and stories. Yasar Kemal has also followed his story How Köroglu comes into play (Köroglu’nun meydana çıkısı) let the material stimulate. The Anatolian variant that interests us is about the powerful, tyrannical Bey von Bolu, who blinds his gifted groom and breeder Yusuf because he dared to offer him a skinny foal as a gift. This gray mold foal, Kırat, whose uniqueness Yusuf recognized, he then nurses up for his son Ali, who is supposed to avenge him on the Bey of Bolu and is only called "son of the blind man", Köroglu, by everyone. It is interesting that Yusuf and his son Köroglu are also talented saz players and poets who express their emotions in songs. We can only bring the beginning of the novel, but all the important motifs can already be heard here. The audience is shown the cruelty of the Beys of Bolu, and in Köroglu the humiliated and insulted grow up an avenger and protector who settles as a noble robber on Mount Çamlibel, builds a fortress there and gradually wins a number of brave companions. On Çamlibel, people drink and sing happily between the daring ventures. Köroπlus Ross Kırat plays a leading role in the adventures, it often saves its rider from dire need and soon becomes the object of the desire of the Beys of Bolu, who regrets his deed. Out of fear of Köroπlu he gradually becomes the mild ruler in our version.

While us Köroglu leads to the Anatolian province, belongs the Meddâh tale The girl in the chest in the urban environment. There, and especially in Istanbul, it was the mimic narrator (Meddâh) who, in addition to the shadow player, delighted the audience in the coffee houses and konaks. As usual in the Karagöz game, he also had a number of the common types (in our text the Turk, Kurd, Jew, Boatswain - Laze - and Rider - Efe - march in order to imitate their dialect coloring or their corrupted Turkish and ridiculous These texts are recorded in abbreviated form according to the oral tradition and were expanded in the public lecture with details and dialogues fairy tale (Masal) come from the oldest collective manuscripts and are among the most popular. The lyrics have been re-translated for our band. The fairy tales have a stringent narrative structure. When they are about a love affair, there is a lack of soulful songs and chants, as are common in the Asık novels. But themes, motifs and atmosphere largely coincide in the various genres of folk literature. The juxtaposition or intertwining of the fantastic and the real world can be looser or more confusing. People live in a fragile world full of fear. Djinns, peris, devils and evil wizards lurk everywhere. In this respect, they stand Creepy stories and sagas which are located in the everyday world, close to fairy tales. Simple Muslims believe in the existence of these supernatural beings. They try to protect themselves from their evil activities with amulets and talismans. The strange-sounding names of the dormouse were often used in such amulets. Their dog Kıtmir also achieved fame. Goethe already knew that he was one of the "favored animals" who came to paradise. And, oh wonder, our Sahmeran reveals her real name to Belkiya, namely Yemliha. That was the name of the most famous of the Companions of the cave. The connection is still puzzled today.

Turkish Muslims believe in the inevitability of destiny and the predetermined hour of death (Ecel). But if this has not yet come, a believer in extreme danger can hope for his help if he fervently implores Allah. God then sends Gabriel, the prophet Hızır or a godlike Dervis (white-bearded old man) to help, who for example - as is often the case in our texts - helps childless couples to become fertile with an apple. As already indicated above, besides the Koran, it is the secondary, commentary, religious writings that strengthen this magical popular piety. We have already quoted examples from the stories of the prophets. It also seems like a fairy tale how Allah helps Noah out of a tight spot with Gabriel's intervention when he promised his only daughter to three applicants. Noah's dog and donkey are turned into young girls, so that Noah now has three daughters and can keep his promise. One thinks of the ali-cengiz game of the magician that Keloglan is learning.

The official religious institutions with which the Muslim came into contact in everyday life were the dervish convent (tekke) and the mosque of his neighborhood or village. In the Tekke the sheikh and the dervishes were responsible, and in the mosque the Hoca. These pious men listened to the people and stood with Allah on you and you. The Bektasi dervishes in particular were considered free spirits and behaved disrespectfully towards dogmas. But the Hoca was not a highly learned man either. He reacts to everything with his smart common sense and always knows how to pull himself out of the affair. His naive explanation of the world, which revolves around his donkey, has a disarming effect and makes the people laugh. There is also a certain connection between Hoca's declaration of the world and the Tekerleme texts, which conjure up a fragile, absurd, upside-down world. What holds them together is the rhyme and the wit.

We have to be patient with these kinds of punchlines, only then do you realize that they are more profound than they appear at first glance. Many Turkish authors attribute philosophical qualities to the Hoca. Halide Edib Adıvar (1882–1964) lets in her acting Mask and soul (mask ve rest) 1945 Discuss Nasreddin Hoca in the afterlife with Shakespeare and the great Arab philosopher of history Ibn Chaldun. Hoca's donkey can also have a say. Orhan Veli Kanık (1914–1950) was tempted to put the stories in verse. The great Turkish satirist Aziz Nesin (1916–1995) brought Nasreddin Hoca back to life through many of his stories. The Hoca can also understand and explain the modern world in his own way. Popular texts and themes are an inexhaustible source from which modern Turkish writers and poets can draw, regardless of whether they are realists, romantics, moralists, social critics, surrealists or supporters of postmodernism. It is therefore worthwhile for German readers to familiarize themselves with this tradition.