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Pir Sultan Abdal (ca. 1480 - 1550)

Pir Sultan Abdal is also a legendary Sufi poet, like Yunus Emre, with the same direct and clear language, the same richness of imagination, and the same high level sensitivity. Yunus Emre and Pir Sultan Abdal both reflected the social, cultural and religious life of their people; they were both humanists, and wrote about love, peace, death and God. However, Pir Sultan's verses are not as peaceful, because they voice the life of the Anatolian people of the 16th century, suffering under the Ottoman rule.

Pir Sultan Abdal was a Turkoman whose nomadic ancestors migrated from Azerbaijan to Syria and from there, possibly in his childhood, to Sivas district in mid-eastern Anatolia. Most of the information about him and his era we find in his verses, which reveal a cultivated well educated intellectual. The Mongolian attacks and star the conflicts among the Turkish states created social and political unrest in the Eastern Anatolia, and forced many Turkoman tribes to migrate further west to inner Anatolia. There, the severe taxation and of the Ottoman governors led to several consecutive uprisings among those tribes. Since their faith was different orders of the Alevi sect (Anatolian Shiite), the uprisings were labeled as 'religious' by the Sunnite Ottoman rulers who disregarded the underlying social and economic discontent. Of course, the moral and material support of Alevi Turcomans to Shah Ismail's Safavi State contributed to the claims of 'religious uprising.' During the period of successive wars by the Ottoman Sultans against Shahs of Iran from 1510 to 1550, the Ottoman oppression on the Turkomans of the region stepped up. Some muftis of the local governors even announced that the Alevis were heretics and so it was approved by religion to kill them and take their properties.

In such a period, Pir Sultan Abdal, who belonged to the Alevi sect, waged his struggle against the injustice and tyranny with his verses in which he previously dedicated to lyrical and pastoral themes and to the Sufi approach he had adopted. He criticized the Ottoman governors, Hizir Pasha in particular who ruled the region and their unjust officers such as the judges and muftis. His verses turned out to be an outrageous call for the rights and for freedom. He was hung by Hizir Pasha. But the tradition of his poesy and his struggle have remained alive for ages. His poetry was sung accompanied by saz through the ages by folk singers. Many poets acquired his name to keep Pir Sultan's voice singing more verses. According to literary historians, there were at least six other poets bearing the same name.

Pir Sultan followed the traditional style of folk literature. The outstanding characteristic of his poems, the use of vernacular language, keen and clear style still prevail in folkloric poetry. He also had a great influence on the poets of young Turkey in the republican era.