An Ashik (Azerbaijani: Aşıq, Turkish: Aşık, Persian: عاشیق, Armenian: Աշուղ, ashugh, Georgian: აშუღი, English: ashughi, Greek: ασίκης) is a mystic troubadour or travelling bard, in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Iran, who sings and plays the saz, a form of lute. Ashiks' songs are semi-improvised around common bases. The word Ashik derives from the Arabic word Asheq (عاشق), and means the "one who is in love." The Turkish term that Ashik superseded was ozan.1 In the early armies of the Turks, as far back as that of Attila, the ruler was invariably accompanied by an ozan. The heroic poems, which they recited to the accompaniment of the kopuz, flattered the sensibilities of an entire people.2
The Ashik tradition in Turkic cultures of Anatolia, Azerbaijan and Iran has its origin in the Shamanistic beliefs of ancient Turkic peoples.45 The ancient ashiks were called by various names such as bakhshi (Baxşı), dede (dədə), and uzan or ozan. Among their various roles, they played a major part in perpetuation of oral tradition, promotion of communal value system and traditional culture of their people. These wandering bards or troubadours are part of current rural and folk culture of Azerbaijan, and Iranian Azerbaijan, Turkey, the Turkmen Sahra (Iran) and Turkmenistan, where they are called bakshy. Thus, Ashik, in traditional sense, may be defied as travelling bards who sang and played saz, an eight or ten string plucking instrument in the form of a long necked lute.
According to the Turkic epic Dede Korkut the roots of Ashiks can be traced back to at least the 7th century, during the heroic age of the Oghuz Turks. This nomadic tribe journeyed westwards through Central Asia from the ninth century onwards and settled in present Turkey, Azerbaijan Republic and North-west areas of Iran.6 Naturally, their music was evolved in the course of the grand migration and ensuing feuds with the original inhabitants the acquired lands.
The single most important event in the history of ashugh music was the ascent to the throne of Shah Isma'il (1487-1524), the founder of the Safavid dynasty. He used the pen-name Khata'i and was a prominent ruler-poet and, in Ashik tradition, is considered as an amateur Ashugh.7 Following the demise of Safavid dynasty in Iran, Turkish culture could not sustain its early development among the elites .Instead, there was a surge in the development of verse-folk stories, mainly intended for performance by Ashughs in weddings.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union the governments of new republics in Caucasus region and Central Asia sought their identity in traditional cultures of their societies. This elevated the status of Ashugs as the guardians of national culture.The new found unprecedented popularity and frequent concerts and performances in urban settings have resulted in rapid innovative developments aiming to enhance the urban-appealing aspects of Ashug performances.
A concise account of the Ashugh music and its development in Armenia is given in Garland Encyclopedia of World Music.8 In Armenia, Ashughs are known since 16th century onward. By far the most notable of the Ashoghs was Sayat Nova (1712–95), who honed the art of troubadour musicianship to crowning refinement.9
After the Islamic revolution music was banned. A famous Ashik, Rəsol Qorbani, who had been forced to make a living as a travelling salesman, aspired to return to the glorious days of fame and leisure. He started composing songs with religious and revolutionary themes. The government, realizing the propaganda potential of these songs, allowed their broadcast in national radio and sent Rəsol to perform in some European cities. This facilitated the emergence of the Ashug music as the symbol of Azeri cultural identity.
Aşıq olub diyar-diyar gezenin, To become and Ashik and travel the countries,
Ezel başdan pürkamalı gerekdi. One should have comprehensive knowledge,
Oturub durmaqda edebin bile, One should be good in one's way of behaving,
Me'rifet elminde dolu gerekti. And one should have civility and politeness.
Halqa heqiqetden metleb qandıra, He should be able to teach people the truth,
Şeytanı öldüre, nefsin yandıra, To kill evil within himself, refrain from ill emotions,
El içinde pak otura, pak dura, He should do favors, good deeds in order to,
Dalısınca xoş sedalı gerekdi. People to think highly of him.
Danışdığı sözün qiymetin bile, He should know the weight of his words,
Kermesinden lel'i-gövher toküle, He should be brilliant in speech,
Mecazi danışa, mecazi güle, He should speak figuratively,
Tamam sözü müemmalı gerekdi. And be a politician in discourse.
Arif ola, eyham ile söz qana, He should be wise and understand unspoken words,
Namehremden şerm eyleye, utana, He should be modest in behavior,
Saat kimi meyli Haqq'a dolana, He should tend to mysticism,
Doğru qelbi, doğru yolu gerekdi. And have a good hear and follow the path to salvation.
Elesger haqq sözün isbatın vere, Ələsgər will prove his assertions,
Emelin melekler yaza deftere, Angels will record his deeds,
Her yanı istese baxanda göre, He will have a third eye,
Teriqetde bu sevdalı gerekdi. He will devote himself to righteous path.
As the art of Ashik is based on oral tradition, the number of Ashik stories can be as many as the Ashiks themselves. Throughout the centuries of this tradition, many interesting stories and epics have thrived, and these are the ones who handed down. The main themes of the most Ashik stories are worldly love or epics of wars and battles or both. Interestingly, in stark contrast to the conservative medium of Islamic societies where most stories take place, the heroin's rule is always as important as the hero's. There in no objection to the heroin public singing.
- The Warrior of The North. A Romantic Action Epic about bard named Ashik in Constantinople in the 16th Century where he faces political and military problems and saves many people. In the end, he marries his soul mate, Nuur, but dies the same day in an attempt to save her from Hardun The Evil.
- The epic of Köroğlu combines the occasional romance with Robin-hood-like chivalry. Köroğlu, is himself an Ashik, who punctuates the third-person narratives of his adventures by breaking into verse: this is Köroğlu. This popular story has spread from Anatolia to the countries of Central Asia somehow changing its character and content.11 Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov has created an opera by this name, using the Ashik stories and masterfully combined some Ashik music with this major classical work.
- Ashiq Qərib, Azeri epic, made famous by Mikhail Lermontov, is another major story of a wandering Ashik who began his journeys with worldly love and attains wisdom by traveling and learning then achieving sainthood. The story of Ashiq Qərib has been the main feature of a movie with the same name by director and producer Sergei Parajanov.12 In early 1980's Aşıq Kəmandar narrated and sang the story in a one hour long TV program, the cosset record of which was widely distributed in Iranian Azerbaijan and had a Key impact on the revival of Ashug music.
- Kərəm ile Əslı is the story of a Muslim prince Kərəm and a Christian girl Əslı who fall in love despite major opposition by their parents and community. The story has a tragic ending; Kərəm catches fire and Əslı, in an attempt to extinguish the fire, mistakenly pours oil on him. The song she sings in despair is known as "Yaniq Kərəm".
- Aşıq Valeh is the story of a debate between Aşıq Valeh13 (1729-1822) and Aşıq Zərniyar. Forty Ashiks have already lost the debate to Aşıq Zərniyar and have been imprisoned. Valeh, however, wins the debate, frees the jailed Ashiks and marries Zərniyar.
- 21st century
- 20th century
Muharrem Ertaş, Ali Ekber Çiçek, Aşık İbreti, Aşık Mahzuni Şerif,Aşık Khanlar, Aşık Veysel, Ashik Mubarak Yaafar, Muhlis Akarsu, Neşet Ertaş, Ashiq Edalet, Aşik Daimi, Davut Sulari, Aşıq Hüseyn Bozalqanlı, Aşıq Hüseyn Saraclı, Mikayıl Azaflı, Aşıq Hüseyn Cavan, Aşıq Kamandar, Aşıq Əmrah, Aşık Seyit Meftuni, Rəsol Qorbani
- 19th century
- 18th century
- 17th century
- 16th century
- 13th century
- Studies on the Soviet Union - 1971, Volume 11 - Page 71
- Mehmed Fuad Koprulu, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, 2006, Taylor & Francis, p.258
- Today.az. Azerbaijan’s ashug art included into UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 1 October 2009
- "ashik,shaman" - DASTAN GENRE IN CENTRAL ASIA; European University Institute, Florence, Italy (retrieved 10 August 2006).
- G. Lewis (translator), The Book of Dede Korkut, Penguin Classics(1988)
- Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (Editor), Culture and Learning in Islam, 2003, p. 282
- The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 2, 2013, pp:851-852
- Rouben Paul Adalian, Historical Dictionary of Armenia, 2010, p.452.
- Colin P. Mitchell (Editor), New Perspectives on Safavid Iran: Empire and Society, 2011, pp:91-92
- James Steffen, The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov, 2013, Chap. 8
- Azad Nabiyev, Azarbaycan xalq adabiyyati, 2006, Page 213
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ashik.|
- Details of the film Ashik Kerib by Parajanov
- Women Performers of Legend and Folk Poetry
- The Poet Minstrels of Azerbaijan