16 December 2006

1289) Influence Of Turkish Minstrel Tradition On Armenian Culture And Yusuf Ohannes, A Living Armenian Minstrel

Assist. Prof Dr. Ali KAFKASYALI
Atatürk University Kazım Karabekir Faculty of Education Turkish Language and Literature Education Department / Erzurum


INTRODUCTION
Historically, Turks have lived together or as neighbours with the Chinese, Russians, Arabs, Persians, Greeks, Jews, and others. Another group of ethnic people who have lived with Turks for centuries are the Armenians. Armenians have both contributed greatly to Turkish culture and civilization and have benefited and been influenced by it. A primary aspect of Turkish culture which affected Armenian culture is the Turkish minstrel tradition.

In ancient times, Turks gave the name ozan to the artists who sang Turkish folk songs with accompanying instruments called kopuz, çöğür or saz in wedding ceremonies or for other entertainment. These artists were very well-respected. The Armenians had the same sort of artists called gusan, who sang with the saz as the accompanying musical instrument. Armenians borrowed the saz from the Turkish minstrel tradition. They changed neither its name, its shape, its construction nor the way of using it. Some researchers have claimed the word gusan is a Pahlevish word1. In fact, the word gusan is a Turanian word used by the Turanian tribe Eşganis meaning minstrel or poet.

In the work, Tarih-i Cihan ve İran (World History and Iran), there is a description of the gusan: “At the time of Eşganis, some people were engaged in reciting. These artists were called gusan. Gusans appeared in the streets and bazaars reciting poems while playing their saz.”2 Nasirî Purpirar, in his work Davezdeh Gern Sükut, Behşi Dovvom, Eşganiyan wrote as follows, referring to the work Durer Et-Tican: “Contemporary historians who distinguished science from legends, unlike former historians, revealed that Eşganis are not a Persian tribe but a Turanian one. In addition, the correct pronunciation of its name is Pars, not Part. (İtimatü Üs- Seltene, Durer Et-Tican Fi Tarih-i Ben-i Eşgan, s. 99.).”3 However, the author of Ancient History of Iranian? Turks (İran Türklerinin Eski Tarihi), Prof. Dr. Mahmut Takî Zehtabî, concluded that Eşkanis were Turks.4

Calling gusan musical compositions the same as ozan musical compositions is inaccurate because gusans played and sang in an ancient Armenian language, reciting Graparish religious songs and poems which people could not understand well.5

From the 16th century onward, Turkish minstrels stopped using the name ozan and began to call themselves aşık. Armenians, too, left the name gusan aside and began to use the term aşug. 6

1 Ekber Yérévanlı, Azerî - Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968, p. 244.
2 Tarih-i İran ve Cihan I, Cumhur-i İslâm-i İran, Amuziş ve Perveriş Vizareti Neşriyatı, Tahran1380 (M.2001), p. 142. (Tercüme Eden: Sulduzlu Mirali Rızaî)
3 Nasir-i Purpirar, Davezdeh Gern Sükut, Behşi Dovvom: Eşkaniyan, Kitab-ı Evvel, Kareng Neşriyatı., 1381 (2002), s, 98. (Tercüme Eden: Sulduzlu Mirali Rızaî)
4 Mahmut Taki Zehtabî, İran Türklerinin Eski Tarihi, Ehter Neşriyatı, Tebriz 1382 (M. 2003), C. II, p. 229-384.
5 Ekber Yérévanlı, Azerî – Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968, p. 245.
6 For further information see: Fikret Türkmen, Türk Halk Edebiyatının Ermeni Kültürüne Tesiri, Akademi Kitabevi 1992;



It is clear that Armenians borrowed the essential concepts of minstrel literature from Turks. They did not have original words replacing “ozan” and “aşık” or “saz”. Fuad Köprülü reported: “The word aşık, which means ‘the poet singing with his saz’ among Turks, was borrowed by the Armenian language as aşug. If this kind of literature had a background and a distinguished tradition in Armenian history, it would have been unnecessary to borrow the words saz and aşık from Turkish, and they would have continued to use their own traditional words”. 7

I. ARMENIAN MINSTRELS WHO WROTE AND SANG IN TURKISH

From the 16th century until today, it has been estimated that there have been 400 Armenian minstrels.8 Some Armenian minstrels have been closely identified with the Turkish minstrel tradition.

Some researchers claim that Armenian minstrels’ singing and playing are in Turkish and are rooted in the Turkish minstrel tradition. They suggest this is a result of Turks and Armenians living together, the widespread use of the Turkish language and the relationship of the Armenians to the Turkish people and the Ottoman administration. In my opinion, the most significant reason was the Ottoman Turkish State’s respect for diversity since the 14th century. In fact, the Turkish minstrel tradition developed along with the Ottoman Empire’s development of a stable life, which survived for centuries.

Having assigned Bursa as the capital of the state, Osman Gazi relocated the Armenian Spiritual Chief from Kütahya to Bursa in 1324. 9 Eight years after the conquest of İstanbul, Mehmed II, the Conqueror, brought the Armenian spiritual leader, Hovakim, from Bursa to İstanbul and had the Armenian Patriarchate established in İstanbul (1461) by declaration. Yavuz Sultan Selim bound the Armenians living in Eastern Anatolia and Southern Caucasia to the İstanbul Patriarchate during the

7 M. Fuad Köprülü, Edebiyat Araştırmaları 1, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004, p. 227.
8 M. Fuad Köprülü, Edebiyat Araştırmaları 1, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004, p. 227.
9 Dikran, Kevorkyan, Uluslararası Terör Karşısında Türk Ermenilerinin Düşünceleri, Türk Tarihinde Ermeniler Sempozyumu, Tebliğler ve Panel Konuşmaları, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir 1983, p. 116.


war from 1514-1516. Protection of Armenians for the next 350 years, allowing them great political, social, cultural, and economic privileges impressed all Armenians --near and far-- and caused them to feel sympathy and friendship toward the Turkish Nation.

In the 14th century master Armenian minstrels like Mesîh-î Ermeni to contemporary ones like Ohannes Yusufî, singing and playing in Turkish, telling folk tales in Turkish and maintaining Turkish minstrel traditions, just like Turkish minstrels, obviously indicate that Armenian culture has been deeply influenced by the Turkish minstrel tradition.

Many Armenian minstrels have not only adopted and participated in the Turkish minstrel tradition but have also attached themselves to the Bektashi-Alevi sect of Islam. Âşık Vartan of Erzurum, Âşık Mecnunî of Erzurum, and Âşık Nurliyan Sarkis Zeki of Kayseri, all lived just like Bektashi dervishes and contributed to the Turkish minstrel tradition.10 The following is a list of Armenian minstrels who were influenced by the Turkish minstrel tradition. Unfortunately we do not have many of their works today:

In the 16th century: Vanlı Göyçek (Nahabet Kuçak), and Mesîh-î Ermeni (Diyarbakır).
In the 17th century: Tatos, Heyyatî, Çubuğoğlu, Apkâr (Abgar), Miskin, Sefil, Yağuboğlu, Dellek Murad, Mecnun/Mecnunî (Erzurum), Vartan (Erzurum), Moses Hakkî (Erzurum), and Kul Egaz (Yeniçuhaİran),
In the 18th century: Kul Artun (Salmas), Âşık Seyran (Tbilisi), Kul Arzunî (İsfahan), Arazlı Serkis, Miran (Tebriz), Bağıroğlu Gazar (İsfahan), Eylisli Horomsima Hanım (Nahcivan-Eylis/Akulis), Bağdasar, Kelbî, Tatevos, Hostikoğlu, Abdinoğlu Hayrapet (İsfahan), Kul Serkis Şirirkanlı (İsfahan-Periya/Şirişkan), Şamçı Melko (Gürcistan/Karayazı), Turab Dede/Arakel Mangigyan (Türkiye), Arutyun Begüm (Şulaver-Tbilisi), Artem Harutyun, Emiroğlu (İsfahan), Küçük Nova (Tbilisi), Kul Hovannes (İsfahan), and Hovannes Artunoğlu (İsfahan-Çarmahal),

10 M. Fuad Köprülü, Saz Şairleri, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004, s. 351; M. Fuad Köprülü, Edebiyat Araştırmaları 1, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004, p. 242.


In the 19th century: Mirza Can (Maralyan-Şuşa), Âşık Nurliyan Sarkis Zeki (Kayseri), Âşık Döni Serkisyan (Şeki- Daşbulak), Âşık Demircioğlu Markâryan (Taşkesen-Şarukâr), Âşık David Keşişoğlu/Kul Mkırdıç (Tbilisi), Âşık Bedr Allahverdi, Miskin Burcu (Nahcivan), Âşık Zeka Dülgeroğlu (Vartaşen-Calud), and Stepanos Yerets (İran/Periya); In the 20th century: Âşık Serkis Martuni (Karakent/Kızkale), and Âşık Sergéy (Şamhor).

II. ASSOCIATIONS ESTABLISHED BY ARMENIAN MINSTRELS WHO WROTE AND SANG IN TURKISH

Garégin Levonyan, an Armenian researcher classified Armenian minstrels who wrote and sang in Turkish as follows: 11

Iran-Armenian Minstrel School: It was founded by Armenian minstrels, Kul Egaz and Mkırdıç in Yeniçuha/Isfahan in the first half of the 16th century. In this school, Kul Serkis, Emiroğlu, Kul Arzun, Bağıroğlu, Abdinoğlu, Kul Artun, and Seferoğlu were students. The most famous minstrel from this school was Kul Artun.

Turkish / Ottoman Armenian Minstrel School: This school was founded by Âşık Artin and Âşık Rumani in 1730 in Istanbul and survived until 1870.

Georgian–Armenian Minstrel School: It was established in 1750 and continued until the end of the 19th century. Their best known minstrel was Sayat Nova. Other well-known minstrels of this school were Şamçı Melko, Budağ Oğlan, Küçük Nova, Sayatoğlu, and Lezzet Oğlan.

Other Minstrel Schools: Since 1820, there were other minstrel schools established in cities outside of Istanbul.

1. In Erzurum (Chief: Âşık Nidayi)
2. In Kars (Chief: Âşık Tüccar)
3. In Aleksandropol (Gümrü) (Chief: Âşık Bave)
11 Ekber Yérévanlı, Azerî -Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968, p. 278 (G. Levonyan, Âşıglar ve Onların Senetkârlığı adlı eserden naklen).
4. In Yerevan (Chief: Âşık Şirin)
5. In Gence (Chief: Âşık Miskin Burcu)
6. In Şamahı (Chiefs: Âşık Zeger and Âşık Turinc).

III. A DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF ARMENIAN MINSTRELS WHO WROTE AND SANG IN TURKISH

The Armenian minstrels, who lived in Caucasia, Iran, and the Ottoman Empire until the 1876-1877 Ottoman-Russian War, mostly wrote poems, sung Turkish songs, and told Turkish folk tales. These minstrels seldom wrote poems in the Armenian, Russian, Georgian, or Persian languages. However, there was a shift away from the Turkish tradition among the Armenians in places such as France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. This was primarily a result of the effort since the mid-20th century by these countries to attempt to weaken the Turkic communities and spoil Turkish-Armenian relations in the wake of the fallen Ottoman Empire.

As Kevorkyan stated: “The Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate began to be considered as a national and political institution, which was far away from its essential objective of establishment. In fact, it was established with the purpose of administrating and organizing Armenian religious and social issues in the Ottoman Empire, but as time went by, it became a means for foreigners who attempted to break the Ottoman Empire.

Foreign states who have worked systematically, have stabbed the Turkish – Armenian brotherhood and when their mission was over, they did not avoid shaking the Armenians.” 12

Hırant Dink, editor in chief of Agos Newspaper stated in his speech delivered in Malatya on the 17th of April, 2006: “English, French, Russians, and Germans are replaying the same intrigues as they did years ago in this land. Armenian people have relied on them in the past. They expected them to relieve themselves from Ottoman sovereignty. They were mistaken, because others finished their mission and went away.

12 Kevorkyan, Dikran, Uluslararası Terör Karşısında Türk Ermenilerinin Düşünceleri, Türk Tarihinde Ermeniler Sempozyumu, Tebliğler ve Panel Konuşmaları, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir 1983, p. 116.

They have left brothers in blood in this land.” (Newspapers on 17th April, 2006).

These countries began to separate Armenians from Turks and Turkish culture by means of consulates appointed in the Ottoman Empire and the help of French, English, Russian, and American specialists, like M. De Morgan, Charles Downing, C. Der Molkenian, W. C. Noel, W. Minorsky, and M. Daniel.

They engaged in conspiratorial activities by publishing fake works and supporting Armenian writers like Arşak Çobanyan13 G. Ağayan14, G. Ahverdyan15, G. Kosdanyan16, G. Levonyan17, T. Balyan18, G. Ahverdyan19, V. Trdatyan20, Zaminyan21, H. Acaryan22, ßirakos23, H. Manandyan ve H. Acaryan24, E. M. Astvasaduryan25 and many other authors whose works26 are completely devoid of facts and sympathy. All the disruptive activities caused the number of Armenian minstrels to diminish and therefore the influence of the Turkish minstrel tradition on Armenian culture to decrease.

13 Arşak Çobanyan, Les Trouvéres Arméniens (Ermeni Âşıkları), Paris 1906.
14 G. Ağayan, Müasir Érmeni Şifahî Neğmeleri, “Daraz” gazetesi, 1893
15 G. Ahvérdyan, Sayat Nova, Moskva 1852.
16 G. Kosdanyan, Hovannes Tlkurantsi ve Onun Şé’rleri, Tbilisi 1892.
17 G. Levonyan, Ermeni Âşıgları, Aleksandropol 1892.
18 T. Balyan, Ermeni Âşıgları, İzmir 1911.
19 G. Ahvérdyan, Ermeni Âşıgları, Tbilisi 1903.
20 Varşam Trdatyan, Âşıg Baydzârenin Mahnıları, Tbilisi 1895.
21 Zaminyan, Ermeni Edebiyatı Tari{i, Yeni Na{çıvan 1915.
22 H. Acaryan, Ermeni Diline Türk Dilinin Te’siri ve Ermenilerin Türkçeden Aldıkları Sözler, Vağarşabad.
23 ßirakos, Ermeni Tari{i, Vénésiya 1865.
24 H. Manandyan ve H. Acaryan, Yeni Ermeni Fedaileri, Éçmiadzin 1903.
25 E. M. Astvasaduryan, Neğmeler Mecmüesi, El Yazması, 1921.
26 Âşıg Civanî’nin Mahnıları, Aleksandropol 1893; Sayat Nova, Şérler, Tbilisi



IV. SAMPLES FROM THE WORKS OF ARMENIAN MINSTRELS WRITING AND SINGING IN TURKISH

Armenian minstrels quoted all kinds of Turkish minstrel poetry, like mani (ballad), koşma (musical ballad), türkü (Turkish Folk song), and destan (epic poem). They also mirrored their content.

An example of koşma from Vanlı Göyçek (Nahapet Kuçak) (17th century):

CAN’T BE
Skills should be in man’s essense
It can’t be just saying it.
If it had no source, no root
Every hot boiling spring can’t be a river.
Everyone has hundreds of ideas, thousands of imagination
It is not stable, always moving.
Courage springs from skill.
Eveyone cannot be brave
Vanlı Göyçek sees what exists in the world
Sparrow cannot be companion to the hawk
There can be an advice from man to man
But no transfer can be from mind to mind.

An example of Koşma by Âşık Civan (1747-1815) of Diyarbakır

LET MY LUCK WAKE UP
I couldn’t get rid of grief and sorrow, brother,
Pray for me that my bad luck turns to good
Whoever tells that lover about me
Let him burst into blood, sooner or later.
While falling in love like Gavvas
My heart was ruined when I found a source
I cannot give up as long as I live
My opponent wants to hurt me, let him be hurt
It made this minstrel upset
It is so cruel, never consider its end
I loved a lover who is indifferent

How can Civan put up with such a pain?
A Chain Koşma by Âşık Roben Hagopyan Sevan, one of contemporary minstrels27:

CHAIN KOŞMA

If my letter reaches my homeland
Talk about cheek, neck and beauty
Skip winter, talk about summer
Talk about the Daisy, the hyacinth, about roses.
The Nightingale inspires from the rose.
Be wise and know the meaning of my word
The bee gets its essence from the flower
Talk about sweet, honeycomb and honey
My heart, you looked for honey, you found the honeycomb
You were looking for majesty, you became famous
You were a jeweller, you reached the source (of jewellery)
Talk about Kebut, emerald and lel
Sell lel to the jeweller, not to the unaware,
The wiseman knows what echo is and what real cry is.
Talk about gold mine, globe and earth
An example of Geraylı by: Âşık Miskin Bürcü (1810-1847):
27 Kendi sesinden kasette. With his own recorded voice


YOU MAY FALL INTO
Man, don’t set up a trap,
You may be trapped in
Don’t be witness for the unjust
You may fall into a trap, unconsciously.
Do not be acquainted with everyman,
He makes your summer like winter
Think first then talk
Otherwise, you may be exposed to cruelty.
Hey Burcu be aware
Be loyal to your companion
Be thankful even to your bad days
You may be happy in the end.

Çığalı Koşma (Yedekli Koşma: Âşık Keşişoğlu (XVIII. Asır):

MY LETTER
If my letter reaches my homeland
Tell others to cry for me
I was left alone in foreign lands in tears
I was left far away, let ways cry for me.
Man watches out the way
Watches and watches the ways
The mother whose son has gone abroad
Expects his coming back.
I fell in love when I was young
I fear, this love will ruin me
Because I cannot reach my relatives, my friends
Leave it aside, let tongues cry in grief.
Homeland is beautiful
Her shirt is beautiful linen
Abroad is ideal for travelling
Homeland is ideal to die for.
Keşişoğlu, you didn’t live even a happy day
I was away from home. I miss it.
My sweetheart’s hair shouldn’t lean down from the comb
Let Lal on the neck, black string cry for me.
My bird is on the bush
My both eyes are expecting you
Azrael (angel of death) do not take my life
I am engaged and my wedding is soon.

The song Tirme Şal, which was composed in 1897 in Azerbaycan
by Armenşans, inspired from Azeri bayati/manis and sung all over Karabag,
is evidence of how Armenian culture was affected by the Turkish
minstrel tradition.

TIRME SHAWL
Heyrik [father in Armenia], my heart, hey hey
My beautiful shawl, hey hey
Let me turn around you
My beautiful shawl, hey hey
My lover has drunk
My time has passed by
Let me sacrifice myself for you
My beautiful shawl, hey hey
Don’t stand behind the door
I can’t take my eyes off your beauty-spot
Let me sacrifice myself for you
My beautiful shawl, hey hey
They don’t plait your hair
They don’t give you to me
Lean, let me kiss your cheek
They can’t see in the dark
I have your shawl
Do not look for it, it is in my pocket
Even if the world is full of beautiful girls
I will prefer only you.

Muhammes Divanî: Âşık Miskin Bürcü (1810-1847)

CRIMSON
Red, green, yellow, violet, black, crimson
You buy a red dress for your lover and let her put it on
Let its jacket be satin, its sleeves red
Let her show her face turned to spring red
Don’t burn us, you will be burned in red fire.
Whoever can reach to make a white house built
Its moth turns around the fire
If son is white, his mother is white
Who can see roselike face, white chest?
If I kiss her lips, they turn to candy red
God created sky and rain well
All rounded by water, deeples and endless
Make her a Tukeziban [a kind of dress] dress from top down
Shawl on the shoulder, skirt on her body
Let her burst in red completely
Pray for me, white faced, bad lucked
Do not leave me in the world as ruined
Many days, many months of your lover are passing in sorrow
Burcu’s luck is like that, fate is black
My God, I beseech you, turn my luck into red soon.

A Chain Divan by Âşık Roben Hagopyan Sevan28:

CHAIN DİVANÎ

Luckily I got a promotion from the wine-shop
I drank wine, I got drunk
I asked the nightingale why my lover’s look makes me drunk.
The Nightingale said I don’t know, ask the moth.
My life didn’t care for the fire of love, like a moth
I became a stranger in my own country, all around strange
Father died, siblings died, my place was ruined
I am crying day and night in this ruin like an owl
My heart was ruined I was sunk in the sea
I fell into the river of sorrow, due to the love of a suna [here a tall girl]
My lover, I know well, became stranger to me
My crazy heart is like Kays, but my lover doesn’t care
Fağır Sevan has suffered from his lover’s love
He sacrificed his life like Ferhat, but couldn’t see her fidelity
Even, this mortal never spent a happy day in this world
Every day he was reproached, this world turned to a place of sorrow.

V. ARMENIAN MINSTRELS’ ADOPTION OF TURKISH FOLK TALES AND THEIR VARIATIONS

Turkish folk tales which constitute a significant part of the Turkish minstrel tradition are a result of the imaginative power of the Turkish people and minstrels. These folk tales were widely adopted by the Armenian people. Turks and Armenians often tipped Armenian minstrels who told Turkish folk tales; therefore, this encouraged them to continue telling tales in Turkish. Many Turkish folk tales, such as Köroğlu, Kerem and Aslı, Leyla and Mecnun, Ferhat and Şirin, Ali Han, Nevruz, Âşık Garip, Melik şah, Tahir and Zühre, and Emrah and Selvi, became an important

28 Kendi sesinden kasette.

component of the Armenian culture. Turkish folk tales were so widespread among Armenian people that different versions of these tales have been written. Armenians, who liked Turkish tales, rewrote the tales in the Armenian language without changing the plots or theme. While these tales were told in Turkish, their texts were written in Armenian and the songs were sung in Turkish.29 Scholars have recorded and classified 35 Köroğlu variations reproduced from 14 Köroğlu tales. 30 There is evidence that as early as the 18th century, some parts of Turkish folk tales were being written with the Armenian alphabet.31

Upon examination of Armenian variations of Turkish folk tales, it is evident that Armenians quoted extensively from Turkish folk tales, composed variations of them, and even wrote original tales inspired by them.32

VI. ARMENIAN ‘SAZ BENTS’
We should acknowledge the Armenian master saz bents (saz makers) who produced instruments for many minstrels over the centuries. Usta Mihek, Usta Şagin (Şahin) in Kavak-Tovuz district, Usta Pire, Usta Dadaş Bayramyan from Urmiye, Iran, Usta Neriman, Usta Armenek, and Usta Şemaver from the Save-Kum region are well-known master saz bents. Usta Neriman, who is the son of Usta Neriman, is a living saz bent in Teheran and has a saz production workshop.

VII. YUSUF OHANNES, A LIVING ARMENIAN MINSTREL
Yusuf Ohannes, a son of an Armenian family who served the Turkish minstrel tradition, was born in 1927 in the Dizteke village of Urmiye. His grandfather’s name was Âşık İşo and his father’s name was Âşık Yakup. 29 Daha fazla bilgi için bakınız: Fikret Türkmen, Türk Halk Edebiyatının Ermeni Kültürüne Tesiri, Akademi Kitabevi 1992, p. 20-21.

30 Ekber Yérévanlı, Azerî – Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968, pp. 181-182.
31 Elyas Müşeg, Neğmeler Kitabı. Tebriz-1721. Bu el yazmasının fotokopisi Nizamî Edebiyat ve Dil Enstitüsü’ndedir (M. T.).
32 Ekber Yérévanlı, Azerî - Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968, p. 183.


Yusufî attended primary school for five years in the Tekedize village where he was born. When he was ten years old he began to play the saz.

He received initial courses in the minstrel tradition from his father, Âşık Yakup. When he was fifteen, his father died. After his father’s death, he was taught by Master Âşık Ferhat, who was one of his late father’s close friends. At the age of seventeen he began to play and sing at wedding ceremonies or for other entertainment organizations. Yusufî is also an Iranian state minstrel and is paid by the state. He knows forty-seven tales and seventy-two minstrel songs. As of 2006, he has contributed to the Turkish minstrel tradition for 62 years.

He participates in radio and television programs as well as in ceremonies and entertainment in all the major cities of Iran, such as Urmiye, Şiraz, Teheran, Isfahan, Erdebil and Tebriz. He plays the saz and sings or tells folk tales. He has played parts in TV and cinema films. He played the Köroğlu character in the film Savalan, about Turkish folk tales. He both sang the songs of the film and narrated the story.

He has trained four minstrels. Two of them are Âşık Mohammed Ali Mahmudi and Âşık Rıza Puyende. The other two are Âşık Zülfeli, an Azeri Turk, and Âşık Antranik, an Armenian minstrel. Apart from Âşık Antranik, all the others are living today.

Âşık Yusufi has two saz’s which he still plays. One is an Ottoman style 153-year-old-saz inherited from his father. It was made by the Armenian sazbent Pire. The other is a 47-year-old saz made by well-known sazbent Dadaş Bayramyan.

When the Ottoman Army arrived to suppress the Armenian rebellion in the Urmiye and Sulduz regions, Yusufi’s grandfather İşo welcomed the army by playing his saz that was labelled with a logo of the crescent and star (which is now the Turkish flag). He sang Köroğlu songs. Yusufi remembers: “When the Ottoman Army arrived in our village, Tekedize, Armenians had fled with fear. My grandfather İşo went up to the roof with his saz in his hand and played a Köroğlu song for them. He told the Turkish officers ‘I am a minstrel’. The Turkish officers spared him and all the villagers’ lives. Therefore, all the people tell me that my grandfather sang a song for Ottoman soldiers and saved our lives”.


Ohannes Yusufî has been invited by hundreds of Turkish familiesnear and far-and by Armenian villagers who speak Turkish to wedding ceremonies, especially in villages like Heftivan, Hosrova, Kaleser, Savra, and Nahcivantepe in the Urmiye and Salmas regions.
A Koşma by Ohannes Yusufî:33
SLOWLY
Beard began to grow white, shape spoiled
Hair wants to grow white slowly
I cannot eat hard foods anymore
Teeth are falling out slowly
My eyes are being curtained and cannot see
My knees are trembling.
My word isn’t cared by the young
My age is reaching seventy, slowly.
Youth cannot be acquired again, it decayed.
My eyes have been curtained
All my cohots have passed away
My turn is reaching slowly.
Âşık Yusuf was confused to bequeath
He filled and drank death sherbet
My friends were informed and they came
They erected my gravestone slowly.
Come, I am your beloved
Come, I am alive, not dead
Chain of grief around my neck
Come, I am your slave.

33 This information was quoted by the panelist from Âşık Ohannes Yusufî in Urmiye on 18th April, 2006.

CONCLUSION

The Turkish minstrel tradition is a cultural treasure which has a deep-rooted tradition. It is a genre that is completely Turkish, drawing from Turkish literature, culture, and civilization. It has not been changed or influenced by other cultures.

It is evident that the Turkish minstrel tradition has deeply influenced Armenian culture. Armenian minstrels are still singing in Turkish and using the concepts, gusan/ozan, âşık/aşug. They also adopted the saz as the accompanying instrument for their songs. The adaptions and variations of Turkish folk tales and songs illustrate the close ties and influence between these two cultures.

REFERENCES
KAFKASYALI, Ali, Edebiyatımızda Ermeni Mezalimi, A.Ü. Kâzım Karabekir Eğitim Fakültesi Yayınları, Erzurum 2001.
KALAFAT, Yaşar, “Türk Ermeni İlişkilerinde Siyasî ve Kültürel Boyut”, Ermeni Araştırmaları Dergisi, Sayı: 12-13, Ankara 2004.
KEVORKYAN, Dikran, Uluslararası Terör Karşısında Türk Ermenilerinin Düşünceleri, Türk Tarihinde Ermeniler Sempozyumu, Tebliğler ve Panel Konuşmaları, 9 Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir 1983.
KöPRÜLÜ, M. Fuad, Edebiyat Araştırmaları 1, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004.
KöPRÜLÜ, M. Fuad, Saz Şairleri, Akçağ Yay., Ankara 2004.
öKE, M. Kemal, İngiliz Ajanı Binbaşı E. W. C. Noel’in Kürdistan Misyonu (1919), Boğaziçi Yay., İstanbul 1992.
PAŞAYEV, Sednik, Érmeni Âşıglarının Azerbaycanca Şé’rleri, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1975.
PURPİRAR, Nasirî, Davezdeh Gern Sükut, Behşi Dovvom: Eşkaniyan, Kitab- Evvel, Kareng Neşriyatı., 1381 (2002).
TÜRKMEN, Fikret, Tarih Boyunca Türk-Ermeni Kültür İlişkileri, Türk Tarihinde Ermeniler Sempozyumu, Tebliğler ve Panel Konuşmaları, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir 1983.
TÜRKMEN, Fikret, Türk Halk Edebiyatının Ermeni Kültürüne Tesiri, Akademi Kitabevi 1992.
YEREVANLI, Ekber, Azerî - Érmeni Edebî Elageleri, Gedim Dövrden XVIII. Esrin Sonuna Geder, Hayastan Neşriyatı, Yérévan 1968.
ZEHTABÎ, Mahmut Taki, İran Türklerinin Eski Tarihi, Ehter Neşriyatı, I-II, Tebriz 1382 (2003).

Source: © Erciyes University 2006

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