In this section we discuss the key aspects of Azerbaijani literature that are unique to Azerbaijan, including forms of poetry and mythology and folklore.
Azerbaijani literature, similar to many art forms, reflects the life and times of the country in its own medium; in script. In Southern Azerbaijan for example, language, art and spiritual values have been under pressure over the last 80 years, due to political and financial changes. Literature has tended to reflect this pressure in the recurring themes of rebirth, revival, separation and self-assertion.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and gaining of independence by the Azerbaijan Republic in the north, in the early 1990s, also had an strong impact on literary culture in Southern Azerbaijan. Notably, as a result of these events, TV channels from Turkey and the Azerbaijan Republic were broadcast via satellite to Iran. Undoubtedly, acts of freedom, such as the barbed wire at the border being removed and the unification of the Azerbaijani people, gave relations in art and literature room to grow and develop.
National revival has occurred periodically in Azerbaijan in parallel with key historical events. Consequently, in literature, the people have first expressed this in the mother tongue, Azerbaijani.
Azerbaijan has a national tendency towards the romantic. To this end poetry is very popular. Generally lyrics of traditional Azerbaijani poetry ranges between love and socio-political poetry, in keeping with both the turbulent history and shared preferences of the people.
The main types of poem writing style in Azerbaijan are commonly:
Poems dedicated to love. Some of the best examples of Ghazal’s have been written by: N. Ganjavi, M. Fuzuli, İ. Nasimi, S. Shirvani, amongst others.
Are longer in amount of ‘hemistichs’. Qasida poets write in solemn, flamboyant style and typically express public concerns and problems. In a ‘Minajat’ type of Qasida, the poet asks for spiritual aid and praises Allah. In the ‘Fakhriyya Ode’, the poet proudly speaks about himself.
A Qita looks is much like the short Ghazal but poets usually express more socio-political, moral and educational topics and thoughts.
This poem has social, philosophical content. Ruba poets write in a ‘hajaz bahr of aruz’ rhythm, and the type recall’s Omar Khayyam (X century), a great Rubai poet. Mehseti Ganjavi is also recognised as an outstanding representative of Rubai and noteworthy in Azerbaijani literary history.
This is a genre specific to literature of Turkic people. Tuyuq in Turkic means ‘ to feel’ / ‘feeling’. A Tuyuq consists of four stanzas, and is usually includes wise content. Tuyuq poets use the rhyme system ‘ramal bahr of aruz’. G. Burhaneddin is probably the most well known name associated with the Tuyuq in Azerbaijani literature.
In Murabbe, each section consists of four ‘hemistich’, in its first couplet of Murabbe, all ‘hemistich’s’ rhyme.
Each couplet of ‘mukhammas’ consists of five ‘hemistich’. Poems of M. P. Vagif, “I did not see” and G. Zakir’s, “Does” are perfect examples of Mukhammas.
The meaning of the word is six. It is genre of poetry having the six-‘hemistich’ in each couplet. It consists of 6-10 couplets. M. A. Sabir’s, “Sattarkhan” poem is the best sample of Musaddas in Azerbaijani literature.
Folklore & Myths
Folklore in Azerbaijan originates in the ancient layers of socio-ancestral culture. Originally, these were creative works with literal meaning on forming of the world, man and all we know – including Allah and gods ruling the world. This traditional Azerbaijani art-form is of particular importance for a culture of proud literature, romanticism and lyrical music.
Azerbaijan mythology runs in close parallel to Turkish mythology. For example, both Turkic and Azerbaijani mythology refer to the main mythic images like Tanry (Heavenly Tanri- main allah) and Humay (all of the earth).
Azerbaijani mythology is rich with old faith, beliefs, anthropomorphic and often zoomorphic meetings. Traditional stories that are passed through generations are, evidently, strongly integrated into culture and the expressive arts in Azerbaijan.
For example, people have been telling popular story of the ‘The Maiden in The Tower’ across traditional stage and word of mouth techniques, as well as via new media mediums such as cinema and film. The story has a number of different versions, though finally the story is always tragic. The story depicts a king who falls in love with a maiden as he tries to apprehend her for marriage she kills herself by plummeting for the tower to her death. This well loved story was one of the first films that Azerbaijan made. It was filmed in the actual tower.