As experts compiled an approximate map of the events described in the Dede Gorgud epic, they saw discovered that most of the events described took place on the territory of Karabagh.

The Azerbaijani literature takes its power from ancient oral Azerbaijani literature. One of the important branches of the oral folk creation is Karabagh folklore. Azerbaijan’s Turkic-Oguz folklore has genres that are related purely to Karabagh.

Types and genres

All genres of oral folklore reflected in the Karabagh people’s creativity, and passed from the generation to generation being in organic relation to each other, and reached our present days. Either small oral genres, as well as examples of epic and lyrical style reflects the region’s geographical landscape, nature, ancestors, the early life and, faiths, beliefs, customs and traditions of our predecessors.

The signs of faiths, beliefs, sorcery, oaths, cheers, curses, entreaties and so on are examples of the artistic imagination of the primary community clearly visible in the idea-content characteristics. From oaths like “Swear to earth”, “Swear to heaven”, “Let me blind if I’m wrong’, “Swear to this water’, “Swear to this running water”, “Swear to this light”, “Swear to abundance”,” Swear to Bread”, “Swear to pir”, “Sweat to land of burial of my mother (my father)”,”Let this light make me blind”, “Swear to salt-bread made with you”, “Swear to my mother’s milk” it is known that in  general   fire, water, sky, light, bread, mother’s milk were historically considered to be sacred.

Myths and legends

Like other ethnos, the native people of Karabagh for centuries expressed his attitude to events that occurred during the period in the life with legend and tales. Its themes and content is mainly connected with God, the mysterious man infinity of the universe and man, genesis of existence, comparison of bad and good, evil and good, that all these motives leads to the expression of local and national identity.It is known that good-evil confrontation is widely expressed in the oral and written literature in general, in Azerbaijan. Also the victory of Good over the Evil served on main idea of word art. In formation and protection of such traditions Karabagh myths and tales have a unique role. It is no coincidence that the Y.V.Chamanzaminli, M.H.Tahmasib, M. Seyidov and others while looking for myth, legend traces in folklore topics had studied also some legends and tales connected with Karabagh.Karabagh legends, tales can be divided into three groups according to content and the idea:

  1. about the magic forces.
  2. the nature and the miracle of the events.
  3. about human life and fate.

In magic fairy-tales, sorcery, magic, genie, talisman, the mother, azrayu, dragon, ahriman, etc. mythical characters, fantastic images are mentioned, the impression of their cruelty and mercilessness is formed, and shown how pure and innocent people are killed in their hands.


Through phoenix bird, water of life, unfading flower, an omnipotent old man etc mythical characters the idea of rescue of men by will of God, keeping side of truth by the Good forces and rescuing the oppressed one even at some coincidence.In the historical myths of Karabagh the living of big body, tall well-built uzukh (oguz) and living for hundred years, is described. It is narrated that uzukh-oghuz braves were tolerant, restrained, self-possessed, and undefeatable to enemies. It becomes clear that they worshipped to fire, water, mountain, show respect to the air, and called the being created sky, land as “god of the sky and the earth”. In this context, when children in Karabagh zone wrestles they use to say: “I am the son of uzukh, the king of ogres”, “Head of ram, head of sheep” and praise themselves, the “Myth about  Oghuz”, “Oguz is a strong man” Bayati-myths and other examples tell about far past of Karabagh region.It is noted that the history of creation of legends and myths about Oghuz coincides with VII-VIII centuries BC, at time of strong inflow of union of Sak and Scythian tribes from the East to the West. However, the Armenian falsifiers, as well as other hostile forces acting against of ancient history of the lands of Azerbaijan and the Karabagh region, root of Azerbaijani Turkic tribes openly deny the Turkic origin of Sak-Scythian tribes.



Karabagh songs with its highly poetic and aesthetic value and features occupies a special place not only among oral but written examples of our literature, and by reflecting feelings at different rites, meetings and traditions, historical events, and causes a great interest as memory carrier of an ancient Turkish life and culture, and the Karabagh dialect increases special features, of dialect, intonation and nature beauties.

Latifa (jokes) creativity

Folklore researchers informs about richness of oral literary traditions of Karabagh with joke, funny stories, and the ability of Karabagh people with fine humor senses to use efficient satire at right time and place. Likewise a number of people of Karabagh tolerates many deprivations, could also to laugh at heart, to enjoy and to look critically at negative facts of own time. In Novruz celebrations, by showing “Kosa-Kosa”, race, gozbaglija, juggler, magician field performances, as well as to tell funny stories and so make people happy from time to time give a special freshness to the folk festivities. Not only jesters, buffoons, jugglers but almost all turn in Novruz festivities as participants of comic games and performances, talked and laughed, make jokes.


Preservation of combination of traditional form and content in the bayati creation of Karabagh act as one of the natural and historical features of folklore environment.As early as the XVIII century, M.V.Vidadi in word contest with his friend M.P.Vaqif showed that people of Karabagh lives with bayatis that sung softly, with deep melodic tune and content.

Ashuq creativity

It is impossible to imagine oral art of Karabagh outside of Ashiq creativity. In general, Ashiq creativity is a “special” event in Azerbaijan folklore, and besides being a part of folklore, it carries out the significant part of the burden of folklore on its shoulders. In particular, in continuing the traditions of legend (dastan) traditions the ashug creativity plays an indispensable role. Such a close connection and conformity shows itself in the environment of Karabagh‘s ancient folklore: Karabagh historically was known as ashug-gopuz, and later as the land of ashuq- saz.It is noted that in Karabagh ashuq creativity was flourished in the XVI-XVIII centuries and that it has a close, deep and aesthetic roots, especially closeness to the sect traditions. For past period ashuq schools were formed here, and many ashugs won the titles of “truth ashug”, “master ashuq”. One of the great master of Karabagh ashuq school is Ashuq Peri. Firidun bey Kocharli wrote that he was clever, a beautiful woman. She gained a great respect at ashuq assemblies. Poets have praised its beauty in own poems.One of the Ashuqg grown in Karabagh is ashuq Valeh Gulabli. It was proved that he always won in the arena of word contest as a great master of word and saz. As an example his “Valeh and Zarnigar” epos and the fact of winning at old age his rival in Iran.

Medieval Karabagh literature

Beginning from the 13th century, there was a gradual increase in the number of Karabakhi   writers and poets writing in the native language.On the whole, the Karabakh literary atmosphere played a pioneering role in the Azerbaijani-Turkic culture and literature for inventiveness and originality of a series of facts. In the Karabakh literary atmosphere, as a fact in the literature, the first Karabakhi poet so far known was Davdag who lived and created in the 7th century.His only available to us poem was in the elegy genre devoted to the murder of the Alban-Partav-Barda ruler, instigated by Armenian priests. We have this poem in translation with a perfect text. The content of this text, its idea and artistic line and style, devoting of an eulogy, a poem to a commander like Javanshir proves that Davdag was a great and renowned master of his time. In later stages, that is to say, prior to the existence of the town of Panahabad-Shusha, there were considerable number of “Bardais”, “Beylaqanis”, “Ganjavis” dynasties in the history of literature. Abu Bakir Ahraad al-Bardai, Makki ibn Ahmad Bardai, Xatib Bagdadi Mahammad Al-Bardai, Ahmad ibn al-Huseyn, Abu Said al-Bardai, Abu Ali al-Bardai, Abu Sad ibn Yahya al-Bardai (the facts are from M. Mahmudov’s “Poets and writers writing in Arabic” (VII-XII), Baku, Science print house, 1983) lived and created in the 10th century and were creators of the Azerbaijani literature in Arabic language. They were popular scientists, philosophers and poets both in Azerbaijan and in the Islamic world. These are only known facts from the 10th century.One of the greatest figures of the 12th century Azerbaijani poetry was Mujraddin Beylaqani of Karabakh whom Khosrov Dahlavi preferred to Khaqani Shirvani for his skills. Zald ibn Huseyn ibn Omar Beylaqani also lived in the same period as Mujiraddin; as a Shariah philosopher he attained high scientific level, went to Damascus where he gained popularity as a leading person of the artistic thought and philosophy and penned a host of high-level literary works.



Tuti Abdulla Qarabagi was an inspired poet of the 14th century, though non of his books reached us yet, his name was mentioned with respect in “Haqiqatus-suara” (The truths of poets; the history of literature).In the 15th century Sheikh Ibrahim ibn Mahammad Sahabaddin Bardai of Qarabag got the title of Sheikh of his age, renowned in the literary circles under the pseudonym of Gulsani and promoted his faith in Cairo and the Ottoman empire after being promoted to the rank of Movlana Gulshani. His khanaqah (or the holy place) is in Cairo and is currently functional. Movlana Gulsan’s two sons – Sheikh Ahmad Gulshanizada and Safvati Seyyid Ali Gulshani – were also poets who replaced their father after his deathYusif ibn Mahammadshahi Qarabagi lived and created in the 16th-17th centuries, was a distinguished scientist of his times, went to the Huseyniyya cloister for dervishes in Samarqand and got promoted to the rank of Movlana Yusif .In the finest sense of the word, the Karabakh literary atmosphere has always been the background of the Azerbaijani culture and literature, created its impressive pages and guided it. Ashug Qurbani, master of masters, lived and created in the 16th century, who was a favourite in the palace of Shah Ismayil Khatai. The names of Mirmohsun Lambarani Asaf, Ashug Ali, Ashug Valeh, Ziyadi Qarabagi and Molla Panah Vaqif, who lived in the 18th century, speak volumes.

In the 18th century after the foundation of Panahabad-Susa, the Karabakh literary atmosphere turned into the busiest centre of the Azerbaijani literary and cultural atmosphere. The Karabakh khanate also began to determine the directions and establish close relations with the Naxcivan, Iravan, Ganca, Saki and other khanates, including political and social events in Georgia. These relations further expanded the sphere of influence of the Karabakh literary atmosphere. In 17-18th centuries, the Azerbaijani literature under influence of folklore and mainly of the ashugs came closer to day-to-day life, the popular spoken language and laid the foundation of the transition to the realism phase in the Azerbaijani poetry.Aga Bayim aga Tuti gained popularity as the shrewdest woman in the east and under the rule of the Iranian Shah Fatali, she became a leading figure in the shah’s diplomacy and spirits of patriotism of her bayatis (a kind of Azerbaijani poem created by common people) still sounds with an astonishing strength.Beginning from the 18th century the Karabakh literary atmosphere laid the foundation of the realist poem in the Azerbaijani literature and originated, strengthened and developed the 19th century realistic literary method.

Karabagh literature of XIX- XX centuries

An important event that happened in the historical fate of the Azerbaijani people in the first quarter of the XIX century was that pro-western tendencies got considerably strong both in the Karabakh culture and literature after Azerbaijan’s forceful annexation by the Russian empire. 

Under its influence, national, realistic and worldly motifs came to the foreground. With direct impact of Molla Panah Vaqif’s creative activities, Gasim bey Zakir, a representative of the critical-realistic satire, grew up in the Karabakh literary atmosphere to be a pacesetter of the poetic development for a long period.

At the same time, we observe the continuation of Mahammad Fuzuli’s traditions both in Qasim bey Zakir’s own creative activities as well as in the works of poets of his age at a new level with Khurshud Banu Natavan (1830-1897)as one of their greatest representatives.The Susa-based poetic gatherings Maclisi-uns, or Friendship gathering, and Maclisi-faramusan, or The Gathering of the Forgotten, were led by Khurshud Banu Natavan and Mirza Mohsun Navvab respectively. The poetic gatherings enjoyed closer contacts and poets were communicating with one another. In general, the XIX century literature laid the solid foundation for the transition to the XX century literature considered to be a new prime stage of the Karabakh literary school.



The dramaturgy of the enlightment that developed as the follow-up of Mirza Fatali Akhundzada’s traditio ns further enriched the Azerbaijani literature with Najaf bay Vezirov’s (1854-1926) comedies, like “Musibati Fakhraddin”, or “Fakhraddin’s tragedy” (1894) penned at the end of the XIX century; Abdurrahim bey Haqverdiyev’s (1870-1933) comedies, including “Dagilan tifaq”, or “Collapsing family”, “Bakhtsiz javan”, or “Ill-fated young man” (1900), and “Aga Mahammad shah Qajar” tragedies.The first professional Azerbaijani female ashug (folk poet and singer) also grew up in Karabakh and Ashiq Pari personality (XIX century) is a vivid proof of it. However, this occurrred at the complete stage of the merger of the literature and folklore. At late of XIX century and early of XX century one of the outstanding representatives of Karabagh was  Uzeyir Hajibeyli – a genius composer, the founder of the first opera in the east, a great playwright, the author of the first libretto, the founder of the musical comedy genre, journalist, great publicist, the author of the Azerbaijani national anthem; 

In general, the famous figures of literary environment of Karabagh of those days can be listed as below:  Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli – the author of the first historical novels (“Between two fires’ (In blood), “Girls spring” etc); novelist-ethnographer, folklorist, diplomat;

Jeyhun bey Hajıbeyli – writer, publicist, diplomat, folklore scholar (for the first time he published in Paris book “Karabagh folklore” in French and with original texts); 

Ahmed bey Aghayev – one of the great ideologist of Azerbaijani statehood, writer- -publicist scholar, news paper man, founder of 1st national Turkic organization fighting the Armenian terrorism “Difai”;

Firudin bey Kocharli (1863-1920), the first literary historician, principal of the Gori and Qazakh Teachers’ Seminary, 

Suleyman Sani Akhundov – one of the 1st founder of child literature, he was the creator of 1st image of bey that concentrated Azeri mentality in self in  “Nestle of falcon” drama, 1st writer-pedagogist named as National Hero; These art figures born as Karabagh children turned to be coryphaeus of Azerbaijani culture and literature thought and evaluated as sons of Turkic people.


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