Ahmed Yasawi's Fabulous Journey of Power As a Hero in "Folk Imagination"

Ozunel E. O.

MILLI FOLKLOR, no.112, pp.15-29, 2016 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.15-29
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


There are many saint-hero characters which were assumed to have lived historically but later made in some way legendary. The biographies of these characters and their works are one of the question of debates among researchers. Biographies based on historical documents and life stories narrated in hagiographies which are said to have been written following the compilation by disciples, made particularly from folk long after these characters' death intermingle. Besides, one of the primary topics of research is whether these works belong to these characters or not. In fact, factors that have been ignored to have roots in oral culture sometimes haven't been included even in these discussions. It is possible to follow the hero phenomenon generated by oral culture and traces of transformation phases experienced by hero in these texts which were clearly referred to have been compiled from oral culture considering the grounds of social, political and cultural power of the period. Khoja Ahmed Yasawi is one of the saints to be discussed in this context. It is difficult to make sense of Ahmed Yasawi who is believed to have lived in 12th century on the basis of his "Hikmets" which are controversial in terms of their ownership and date of writing. On the other hand, Yasawi's life of religious anecdotes and his prophecies are included in Cevahirul-Ebrar min Emvac-i Bihar written by Hazini who declared long after his death that he was Yasawi's disciple and this work contains the works of oral culture. Elements that invoke the journey and rites of passage of a mythic hero such as Hizir's bringing Yasawi's mother and father together, heralding of his birth to the Prophet. Muhammad 400 years before him, Hizir's standing beside him as a guide showing the true path, his ability of metamorphosis, his naming after the annihilation of the Mountain Karacuk by him, starting to live in an underground place in which a dervish undergoes a period of trial and suffering emulating the Prophet Muhammad after the age of 63 which was the age of the Prophet at the time of his death allow for the analysis of his life of religious anecdotes within the context of the journey of fabulous hero. Beside Yasawi is fabulous hero, he is also in the focal point of political transformations of his time. Even long after his death, his narrations associated with central authority and power wait to be analyzed in addition to his fabulous journey. For instance, Yasawi's tomb in Kazakhstan which is said to have been built by Timurid after his death, 200 years later has been consideted as a: center of power and charm. Therefore, Ahmed Yasawi's life of religious anecdotes has been analyzed making use of Cevahirul-Ebrar min Emvac-i Bihar which evokes the understanding of power of the time it has been written and wisdoms attributed to him and phases experienced by Yasawi as a hero have been pointed out.