Kitab-I Dede Qorqut

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kitab-I Dede Qorqut


(Kitab-i dedem Qorqut ala lisani taifei oghuzan; The Book of My Grandfather Qorqut in the Language of the Ghuz Tribe), a written epic of the Ghuz tribe, a group that later became part of the Turkoman, Azerbaijani, and Turkish peoples.

The Kitab-i dede Qorqut is known through two written versions: the Dresden manuscript, consisting of 12 dastans (epic songs), and the Vatican manuscript, consisting of six dastans. V. V. Bartol’d’s complete Russian translation of the work, done in 1922, was published in 1962 under the editorship of V. M. Zhirmunskii and A. N. Kononov. The epic has also been published a number of times in Turkey, where an extensive literature has been devoted to it. In 1952 the researcher Ettore Rossi published a translation of the epic into Italian, together with commentary and a facsimile of a second manuscript, which he had found in the Vatican Library, the text of which was almost identical to the Dresden manuscript.

The epic opens with an introduction that provides information on the legendary sage and storyteller Qorqut. There is no single plot to the epic; each of the 12 tales stands independent of the others. However, ten of the tales are somewhat interconnected, constituting a sort of descriptive cycle on the heroic feats of the Ghuz warriors. Many of the names are repeated in several of the tales: Baiundur, the khan of the tribe; the brave warrior Kazan, his son-in-law; and Aruz, his son.

The basic theme of the epic is the war of the Ghuz heroes against the “unfaithful” for the consolidation of power over the conquered Caucasian territories. Traces of the epic may be found in the tribe’s ancient homeland in Central and Middle Asia, where the legends and traditions concerning Qorqut have been preserved among the Kirghiz, Kazakh, and other peoples. It would therefore seem that the epic developed while the Ghuz were still in the East. The more definitive form was apparently compiled in Azerbaijan, where the group was less dispersed.


Kniga moego deda Korkuta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962. (Critical articles by V. V. Bartol’d, A. Iu. Iakubovskii, and V. M. Zhirmunskii.)
Ergin, M. Dede Korkut kitabi, 1. Ankara, 1958.
Rossi, E. Il ”Kitab-i Dede Qorqut,Trad, annot. con facsimile. Vatican City, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.