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Azerbaijani literature

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Azerbaijani literature, in keeping with the great age of the Azerbaijani civilization, reaches back into antiquity, with some of its greatest works of literature being written as early as the 6th Century.


Contents

Epic Literature & Poems

Leyli & Mejnun and Esli & Karam are two of the most renowned poems in Azerbaijan.

The Book of Dede Korkut

The Book of Dede Korkut is an epic of the Oghuz Turks (Oghuz Turks include the Azerbaijanis as well as the Turks of Turkey and Turkmenistan). The tale takes place in pre-Islamic Azerbaijan and central Asia (6th and 7th centuries). It is a collection of epics and stories that bears witness to the language, way of life, religions, traditions and social norms of peoples inhabiting large portions of Central Asia and the Middle East in the centuries before the emergence of Islam. During the past two centuries the book has been translated into many languages.

Koroglu

Koroglu was a Turkic national hero in Azerbaijan in the 16th century. The Koroglu epic is shared by the Azerbaijanis, the Turks of Turkey, and the Turkmens. Most of the characters in the epic were historical persons, including Koroglu, Giziroglu Bey, Kosa Safar, Jafar and Hasan Pasha. Koroglu's many poems are kept in the Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.

Heydar Babaya Salam

An influential piece of post World War II Azerbaijani poetry, Heydar Babaya Sala (Greetings to Heydar Baba) was written by Mohammad Hossein Shahriar in Iran. This poem, published in Tabriz in 1954 and written in colloquial Azerbaijani, became popular among the Azerbaijanis in Iran, northern Azerbaijan, and many other places in the Turkish-speaking world. In Heydar Babaya Salam, Shahriar expressed his identity as an Azerbaijani attachment to his homeland, language, and culture. Heydar Baba is a hill near Khoshknab, the native village of the poet.

History of Azerbaijani Literature

The 6th and 7th centuries saw the literary masterpiece THE BOOK OF DEDE KORKUT, 1300th anniversary of which was celebrated by UNESCO in 1998.

In 1073, DIVANI LUGATI TURK was written by Mahmud of Kashgar.

In 1077, QUTADQU BILIQ was written by Yusuf Kash Hajib.

Both these works bear witness to the early literary formations in Azerbaijani language.

Classical literature in Azerbaijani was formed in the 11th century based on Tabrizi and Shirvani dialects

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Azerbaijani literature flourished under the Shirvanshahs. Leading representatives of Azerbaijani language/literature in this era was Meshketi Khanim. It should be noted that most of the literari of the region in this period such as Nizami Ganjavi and Qatran Tabrizi wrote only in Persian.

In the 13th and 14th century, Azerbaijani literary works include:

Yusuf & Zuleykha by Qazi Darir, Ghazals by Hesenoglu, Divans by Qazi Burhan ad-Din and the Qutrains by Imadedin Nesimi.

In the 15th century, Azerbaijani literature was developed by the Black Sheep Turkmen and White Sheep Turkmen (Qara Qoyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu) dynasties who ruled in parts of Iran. To this period belongs such literary figures as Jahanshah Qaraqoyunlu (pen name Haqiqi), Habibi and Sheykh Qasim Enver.

In the 16th century, under the pen name "Khatayi", Shah Ismail produced his famous Divani Xetayi. A unique literary style known as “Qoshma” was also introduced in this period and was developed by Shah Ismail and later on by his successor Shah Tahmasp.

The 16th century saw the rapid growth of Azerbaijani folk literature.

Masterpieces such as Koroglu, Esli Kerem, Shah Ismail, and Ashiq Qerib were created in this period. The native Azerbaijani minstrels, bards and Ashiglar poetry was also becoming highly developed in this period as well.

Also in the 16th century, Muhammad Fizuli produced his timeless philosophical and lyrical Qazals in both Persian and Azerbaijani. Benefiting immensely from the fine literary traditions of his environment, and masterfully building upon the legacy of his predecessors, Fizuli was destined to become the leading literary figure of his society. His major works include The Divan of Ghazals, The Qasidas, and the poem Leyli ve Mejnun.

In the span of the 17th century, Fizuli's unique genres were taken up by prominent poets and writers such as Qovsi of Tabriz, Shah Abbas Sani, Amani, Zafar, and others.

19th & 20th century

  • In 1850-1855, Mirza Akhundzada published in the Azerbaijani language the first European style plays (satires) in the Islamic world.
  • In 1875, the first newspaper in Azerbaijani, Akinchi (Cultivator) was published in Baku.
  • In the mid-19th century Azerbaijani was officially taught in schools across northern Azerbaijan (in Baku, Ganja, Sheki, Tbilisi, and Yerevan.)
  • Since 1845, it has also been taught in the University of St. Petersburg in Russia.
  • In 1905, Azerbaijani was first educated in Iran by Mirza Hasan Rushdiya with the textbook Vatan Dili (language of the motherland) that was published in Tabriz.
  • In 1891, the second Azerbaijani newspaper named Kashkul was published. Kashkul introduced in writing the term "Azerbaijani Turk" as the name of the nation of Azerbaijan.
  • In 1907, the bilingual Azerbaijani-Persian newspaper titled "Azerbayjan" also appeared in Iran.
  • In 1908, the publication of the Azerbaijani newspaper "Ana Dili" (mother tongue) also began in Iran. Ana Dili, stressed indigenous Azerbaijani-Turkish language and culture and often published works from north Azerbaijan.
  • In Iran (April 1978), "Varliq", the only Azerbaijani publication in the country that runs to this day, was established.
  • In Iran (early 1980s), a new edition of the "Koran in Azerbaijani" was prepared by Azerbaijani madrassa students in Qom.
  • In Iran (April 1982) a regular column began to appear in the Azerbaijan teacher's newspaper "Azerbayjan Muellimi" called "Cenubdan Sesler" (Voices from the South).
  • In Iran (starting in 1991 and 1992), "Keyhan and Etelaat" started publication in one Azerbaijani-language page.

Important Literacists

  • Imameddin Nesimi — Nesimi was born in 1370 in the town of Shamakhi, Aran (then a province of Persia. He was a philosopher, mystic and poet, who with his life, his philosophy, his poetry, his mysticism, and even with his death, left an unseperable mark on Azerbaijani-Turkish literature and culture. Nesimi is most famous for his Quatrains, and although he was familiar with the dialect of Turkey, he used the Turkish dialect of Azerbaijan.
  • King Ismayil Safavi (Khatai) — Under the pen name Khatai, Shah Ismail (the founder of the Persian Safavid dynasty, produced his famous Divani Xetayi in Azerbaijani-Turkish. A unique literary style known as “Qoshma” was also introduced in this period and was developed by Shah Ismayil and Shah Tahmasp. King Ismayil was born in the historic city of Ardebil, in Iran and founded the Persian Safavid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • Muhammad Suleymanoglu Fizuli — Fizuli was from the Azerbaijani (Turkic) tribe of Bayat and was born in Baghdad in 1498. His poem, "Leyli & Mejnun" written in Azerbaijani sixteenth century is especially revered in the contemporary national culture of Azerbaijan.
  • Hesenoglu Izedin — Izedin lived at the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth century. He is most revered for his beautiful "Qazals."

Other important Azerbaijani literacists (10th-20th centuries) are: Qazi Darir, Qazi Burhan ad-Din, Bakhtiar Vahabzada, Mirza Fatali Akhundzada, Abdul-Rahim Talibzada, Mirza Sabir, Muhammad Hussein Shahriar, Sabir Rustemkhanli.

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