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The historical background of the art of Minstrelsy goes back at least 5 thousand years. Those who carry out the Turkish minstrel tradition are defined with names such as “Minstrel”, “Poet”, “Varsak”, “Yanşhak”, “Bahshi”, “Caliph”, “Jirao”, and “Koshukçu” (chansonnier). They are called these names in various countries in folk literature and musical art. This timeless tradition, dating back thousands of years, is briefly referred to as “Ashik Art” (minstrel) in our study.

Minstrel Art, which has a high and respectable place in the oral literature and cultural context, has a special spirituality. To put it another way, minstrel art is a comprehensive example of many significant arts, including acting, satire, folk songs and sayings, aphorisms, epic storytelling, poetry, and mental preparation for battles. Those who can perform and produce Minstrel Art are Turks.

With original tunes inspired by nature, beliefs, and heroes, minstrels are local sociologists who sing authentic love ballads and epic tales.

Minstrels are often skilled at improvisation and are sometimes creators of their poems and works. Occasionally, they perform their art at a meeting, sometimes at birthdays and weddings, sometimes at coffee houses, sometimes at funerals, and sometimes at official events or national celebrations. Minstrels perform their folk songs with “Saz”, which is a plucked and long-necked string instrument, reflecting the beauties and miseries around in a dramatic language blended with music, literature, and poetry.

From the first day of the appearance of this unique art, dating back at least 5 thousand years till today, the eternal mission of minstrel literature and music has involved the wisdom, thought, soul, spirituality, language, and history of the Turks. It is mainly concerned with the preservation and protection of their cultural identity, and thus to keep their folk values alive and promote them.

Minstrel Art, due to its unique characteristics both artistically, philosophically, and intellectually, is popular in places where the Turks live such as Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Erivan Khanate, Georgia (Borçalı), Dagestan-Derbent (Russia), Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia (Kazan and Crimea), as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, China (Uyghurs); It has spread in Eastern Europe, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As for the history of Minstrel Art, there are underground figurines belonging to this art. These clay tablets belong to the Elam and Sumerian Civilizations. Most have been discovered in the Shush region of Iran and Mesopotamia (between the Euphrates and the Nile). Many of these clay tablets are preserved in the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Haft Tepe Museum in Shush, Iran. This shows that art dates back at least 5 thousand years. Recent findings prove that the history of Minstrel Art may date back to 12 thousand years as revealed by newly discovered information.

Although we have some information about Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Yerevan Khanate, Georgia (Borchali), Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iraq (Kirkuk-Telafer), Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uyghurs (China) we have no information about Kazan and Crimean Turks in Russia concerning minstrel circles and other countries mentioned.

The roots of Minstrel Art are ancient. This art has its own unique style inspired by folk stories created epics with its characteristics and even fought against oppression, cruelty and inequality and took its place in history.

Minstrel literature and music have always been a symbol of humanism, the search for rights, and reform, and of a nation that insists on the realization of human intellectual interaction. Minstrel literature is made up of epics and stories. More than a hundred epics on this subject have reached us and are available to us.

Minstrels can be categorized into two main groups:

1- Master and Creative Minstrels: This group has talents such as storytelling, composing, singing folk songs, creating ballads, writing poetry, and advanced art (stage management). Minstrels have all the knowledge and skills required by their art. However, the number of such creative minstrels is limited.

2- Performing Minstrels: This group of minstrels involves individuals who are just performers. They only stage the available works of creative minstrels and they do not have any works of their own.

One of the great poets and lovers that comes to our mind when we say is Dede Korkut, the common legend of Turkish culture and Köroğlu, the hero of the Turkish world. There are thousands of tunes dating back hundreds of years that have found their way through and survived to the present day composed by minstrels. These tunes are performed by the minstrels of each region with special musical instruments such as kopuz, chögür, dhütar, tambura, saz and baglama. Sometimes these tunes are performed with saz and other musical instruments.

For the author, Ali Polat, who highly regards Minstrel Art, culture, and literature, Minstrel Saz, Gopuz, etc. and other instruments belonging to minstrels are the mother of all music in the world. He has been maintaining his activities, which he initiated ten years ago, to protect this ancient cultural heritage, unceasingly for the last four years. He has formed various specialized teams in the minstrel circles of Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia-Derbent, and Uzbekistan, and has managed to complete the following studies with his own means. However, these studies have not yet been completed in Uzbekistan and research has still been going on steadily there. 





  • Ali Polat’s Activities:

The names of the minstrel circles in the research conducted by Ali Polat are included in the appendix:

 *Iranian minstrel circles include: 1- Tabriz- Karadağ 2- Urmiye 3- Karapapak- Sulduz 4- Heşteri- Marağa 5- Zanjan 6- Halhal- Tarim 7- Shahseven- Zanjan 8- Hamadan- Erak 9- Kum- Save 10- Southern Turks- Qashqai (Khuzistan provinces- Fars- Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari) 11- Northern Khorasan-Gurgan 12- Southern Khorasan

*Minstrel circles in the Republic of Azerbaijan include: 1- Ganja, Basar 2- Derelaz 3- Nakhchivan 4- Karabakh 5- Shirvan 6- Goyche

* Georgian minstrel circles include: 1- Borcali

* Dagestan minstrel circles include: 1- Derbent

* Turkmenistan minstrel circles include: 1- Merv (Mari) 2- Ashgabat

*The minstrel circles of the Republic of Türkiye include:

1- Kars – Ardahan (Terekeme, Azerbaycanlılar, Yerli) 2- Erzurum 3- Van – Erciş – Ahlat 4- Ağrı (Kara Köse) 5- Artvin 6- Erzincan 7- Gümüşhane 8 – Sivas 9- Çorum 10- Kayseri 11- Malatya 12- Kırşehir 13 – Konya 14 – Denizli 15 – Ankara – 16 – Kahramanmaraş – Adıyaman – Hatay 17 – Gaziantep 18 – Şanlıurfa – Diyarbakır 19 – Tunceli (Dersim ) 20 – Yozgat 21 – Tokat 22 – Adana – Çukurova – Osmaniye 23 – Amasya 24 – Giresun.

  • His studies concerning the information about Minstrel Art in the 46 minstrel circles mentioned above are included in the appendix.

1-Three albums titled “Telli Saz” containing approximately four hours of 30 minstrel music (in 2012);

2- “Minstrel Encyclopedia”, printed in about two volumes with a circulation of 3000 (published in Persian to inform Iranian people about minstrels)

3- 46 minstrel circles and 1200 minstrels were recorded by Ali Polat, who takes into account the risk of the ashik atmosphere fading over time. Ninety percent of these folk songs have been recorded in the studio. The remaining ten percent has been compiled from the works of other minstrels. In the introduction part of these recordings, which are more than 6600 minutes in total, information about the minstrel environment, ballad performer, lyrics and background history is provided. There was a thorough explanation of the material in Persian, Turkish, and Azerbaijani. For a total of 17,000 hours in the studio, preparing each ballad required an average of over seven hours of work. It also indicates that the construction of a three to five-minute piece required at least seven hours of work.

4- Since there are no notes for the minstrel ballads in general, some of these tunes were notated. 141 minstrel ballads were transcribed into notes by Cengiz Mehdipour and Ustad Ali Hudadad, published in book form, and distributed to relevant institutions. The collected notes are not common tunes but are usually forgotten ones.

Note: We expect your support in order to continue all the notes, the relevant individuals and various institutions.

5- Preparation of 14 CD works consisting of 180 pieces, bringing together the poems of the famous Dede and master minstrels of various tribes of Iranian Turks who lived from the last 600 years to the present. Master Minstrels from past to present are: 1- Şhah İsmail 2- Qurbani 3- Abbas Tufarqanlı 4- Merendli Allahı 5- Minstrel Garip 6- Hasta Qasım 7- Mahtumkulu Ferağı 8- Dollu Mustafa 9 – Mezun Kaşhkai 10- Telim Han- 11- Minstrel Ali (the master of minstrel Alesger) 12- Minstrel Alesger – 13- Ulya Qulu unique works and 14- Hüseyin Javan

The works of these master minstrels are read by different bards in various countries every day, but the minstrels perform these works only under their own names.

An album of the works of these master minstrels has never been produced until today. Ali Polat is the first person to release the albums of these minstrels under their own names.

6- Also for Iranian Turks Including Tabriz- Ardebil- Miyana- Kaleyber- Kendüvan – Miyandab (Goça Çay)- Zanjan- Qazvin- Hamadan – Arak – Talhab – Isfahan – Borucen; Preparation of 19 clips from the circles of minstrels in Shiraz – Sircan – Deregez – Günbet Kavus regions in 2021.

Note: 72 Turkish sub-tribes are living in İran today. There are three different Turkish groups named with their own characteristic names. These are: 1. Those who use their Turkish ethnic names (Azerbaijan, Khorasan region: Qashqailar and others). 2. Those who use their Turkmen ethnic names (Turkmens). 3. Those who use their Halach Turkish ethnic names (Oldest Turks).

Note: Please note that the country with the most minstrels in the countries we have listed is Iran where Iranian Turks live. Nearly 3 thousand bards and minstrels operate here. Each group consists of 3 to 12 individuals. There are single saz and bards only in some regions.

Note: P.S. There is the tomb of the great scientist Ibn Sina, who died when he was around 56-57 years old in the region where the Hamedan Turks were located.


7- Preparation of banners and posters containing the statues of minstrels in the Louvre Museum of France, in five languages ​​and in five sizes, and distribution to relevant places in these countries.

8- Preparing and dressing national clothing for at least 1000 minstrels in Iran.

9- Preparation of local clothing in two different patterns for master and performing minstrels.

10- Making 80 minstrel statues (50 cm) consisting of modern and geometric lines.

11-Design and production of 140 sculptures depicting and representing the states of two minstrels performing “degishim” or “atishma” i.e. mutual exchange of poetic and rhymic words with humor while playing saz. 

12- Preparation of 14 Master minstrel busts from the Safavid Period to the present day.

13- Donating eight ashik saz as a present to the neighborhoods in the areas where Iranian Turks reside and where saz and kopuz have become forgotten.;

14- 3500 badges specially prepared for minstrels.

15- Preparation of a large and comprehensive “Minstrel Encyclopedia” consisting of 5 books and 2500 pages, containing the biographies of 1500 minstrels. The encyclopedia will be published in August 2024.

In addition to the minstrel regions in question, studies will begin in the field of Minstrel Art in 2024 in Kazakhstan and Iraq (Kirkuk (Telafar), where minstrel circles are located.

Note: Ali Polat has completed his works in 46 minstrel circles in total so far and has still been conducting necessary research in Uzbekistan. Currently, he is in the process of recording existing works in Uzbekistan.

It should also be noted that all the works mentioned were recorded as audio files in three languages, which are Turkish, Azerbaijani Turkish, and Persian. Necessary information about 46 minstrel districts has been made available in English so as to attract the attention of the international audience.

Young minstrels in Tabriz are able to perform Beethoven, Mozart, and other classical compositions, and they are well-received in the city’s artistic, cultural, and musical circles due to Ali Polat’s efforts. All these activities are appreciated in music and art circles and they all still continue.

Due to these contributions, people engaged in minstrel art granted and honored Ali Polat with the title of “Dede” or “Master”.





Dede Polat’s request and wish to the scientific and cultural authorities of the countries where minstrel circles exist is to keep this art alive and pass it on to the next generations. Meanwhile, a new style and a different perspective have been introduced to Minstrel Art in recent years along with villages within different national borders, which started to be performed in city centers. The minstrel saz started to be performed together with other national instruments. However, the reason why all these innovations aimed at promoting this art as it deserves are insufficient, is the lack of material and moral support for bards and minstrels. In addition, bards are unable to support their families financially with this art they perform. It is therefore necessary to provide opportunities for the betterment of minstrels to facilitate the promotion of this art in different national and international arenas. It is therefore clear that the richness of Minstrel Art is incomparable with any other style of music as it has always been a noble art and will be presented as such. It should be reminded to the respectable authorities of science and culture that Minstrel Art, unfortunately, does not seem to have succeeded in creating unique works of art in different national and international arenas despite its significance, knowledge, and history. This problem still exists today, unfortunately. The most essential action to keep this art alive and raise it to the world level will be to open new classrooms for this art in educational institutions. Every minstrel should learn the notes of the ballads he plays and be more knowledgeable about the theory of this art. If this deficiency is completed and our minstrels present the saz instrument as a solo instrument on the world’s big stages and orchestras; I can say with certainty that the people of those countries will demand that these minstrel instruments should be introduced to their countries accompanied by necessary training, just like other musical instruments that are taught in the music schools and conservatories in their own countries.

In addition, only the last 600 years of information and data have been found in the literature about this Minstrel Art, which has a history of 5000 years. For this reason, my suggestion to young researchers is to reach the sources of this art and learn more about the information that existed from 600 years ago to 5,000 years ago. Because these studies will make a significant contribution to the history of music.

The recommended courses to be taken regarding this art in the educational institutions available for the art of minstrel are presented in the appendix.

1- Minstrel Literature: poems, epics, etc. 2- Minstrel style singing 3- Minstrel saz playing style 4- Playing kopuz 5- Balaban playing 6- Rhythm and tambourine playing 7- Playing zurna 8- Playing drums

Furthermore, without any condition, we are willing to provide these educational institutions with 1200 minstrels recorded, and the studies completed on this art to date, as well as the “Minstrel Encyclopedia”, which is planned to be completed in 2024.

It is essential to continue this tradition, which reflects the past, history, culture, mentality, and language of the Turks. Minstrel Art reflects the spirit of the Turks due to its unique characteristics both artistically, philosophically, and intellectually; It would be a great shame for this art and its performers, whose roots go back thousands of years, if this tradition remained only in the past. For this reason, municipalities and those interested in this art must support minstrels and bards so that they can practice their art, and pass it on to future generations to introduce and make new generations love and grow fond of this tradition. There used to be some minstrel councils and local coffee & assembly houses that existed in Istanbul years ago where bards and minstrels used to get together and perform. Unfortunately, these coffeehouses peculiar to bards and minstrels were closed later. We do hope that such coffeehouse & assembly rooms will be reopened again by municipalities today. It is crucial to grant these places to bards and minstrels free of charge, considering their financial limits, and thus to support them socially and financially at the service of Turkish communities. In this way, this vital traditional practice can be popularized and passed on to new and future generations.

Ali Polat has carried out these activities stated in the second and third chapters above, with all his might and enthusiasm, wishes for Minstrel Art to be presented internationally. His desire is for this original minstrel instrument to take its place among the orchestras of different nations. Ali Polat’s efforts are chiefly oriented towards recording and protecting this unique art to ensure that those valuable bards and minstrels receive the value and respect they deserve, and to improve their social and financial status.