The Bird Ornament in Gravestones of Cayirli County, Erzincan

Cal H.

MILLI FOLKLOR, no.89, pp.220-239, 2011 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.220-239
  • Gazi University Affiliated: No


On the 15 graves in Baskoy, Cilhoroz, Sariguney and Verimli villages of Erzincan city, 20 figurative birds can be seen. There are no details. Their craftsmanship is easy. On nine of them, birds are on trees. When others have one bird, the two samples represent two birds. Seven of them can be dated to 1898-1960. The early bird figures on the gravestones are from the Gokturks' period. In Anatolia, between 13th-15th century, 30 gravestones have bird figures. In connection with the Middle Asian culture, they represent the souls of the dead. From some sources of the era, it is understood that the birds were believed to represent the spirits of the dead. But it can't be answered why the birds are still represented on the gravestones today. On the Ottoman grave stones of the 19th century the words can be read for the dead as: "He (or) she flew away like a bird and went to heaven". Today; this tradition still lives within the oral culture. City gravestones since 16th century don't represent birds. Our samples show that this tradition continued until 1960's in village cemeteries.