Aşık Şenlik Hayatı -English
Tarih : 2009.05.19  00:00:00
His real name was Hasan. He was born in 1850 into the family of Zeliha and Molla Kadirs in the village of Suhara in Childir area near Ardahan,

Аshik* Shenlik (Aşık Şenlik)

* «Ashik» in Turkish means «folk poet»


His real name was Hasan. He was born in 1850 into the family of Zeliha and Molla Kadirs in the village of Suhara in Childir area near Ardahan, Turkey. Shenlik is a folk poet who skillfully used the language of his ancestors, the Terekeme tribe (Karakalpaks).


His taking the pseudoname Shenlik is related with the following story. When he was about 14-15 years old, Hasan went duck hunting. He fell asleep and failed to return home by nightfall, making his family worry.  His father found him the next day on the spot where Hasan had fallen asleep. The father asked him worriedly what had happened, and Hasan, barely awake, blotted out his answer in a rhyme:



This poem, and the many others that followed, present Hasan as gifted by God**. As for the nickname usually adopted by all folk poets, he started using “Shenlik” (“cheerfulness”) in the memory of that day when he was lost and happily found. 

**Folk poets in Turkey can be divided into “God gifted” and educated poets. They differ from each other by their knowledge, foresight and religious views.


Rather than being continuously enrolled in any school (medrese), Shenlik benefitted from the variety of educational opportunities available in his region at that time. He was a self-raised person who had empirically learnt the cultural peculiarities he reflected in his poems. As can be seen from his works, his environment possessed a rich culture that came to Anatolia from the Caucasus and was being preserved and transferred through generations. Thanks to his intellect, Shenlik managed to take the maximum out of readings by other local poets, of the chats and war-tales told in the village sitting rooms, and of the religious lessons taught in mosques. Religion, history and folklore of his time are reflected in his poems, molded with his genius.


When he was 19 y.o., ashik Nuri from the village of Lebis near Ahilkelek taught Shenlik to play saz. Wandering around Shenlik visited Kars, Ahiska, Borchali, Tiflis, Guru, Revan where he encountered many of his contemporary folk poets.


While Shenlik’s poetry very emotionally reflects even the most superstitious religious beliefs of his people, it is never insisting on the subject. Moreover, it bears tolerance towards the Shia school, although Shenlik was not its follower.

Shenlik laments loyalty, but never the society. If anyone from the crowd falls, it is not the crowd’s fault, but the responsibility of the fallen person. Everyone needs to be careful with one’s steps and words.


Singing at weddings and meetings Shenlik came to be one of the most popular and welcomed ashiks. In ashiks’ contests, he sang ballads and poems extemporaneously, thus proving his immense talent. Many of his contemporary folk poets, as well as modern ones, were influenced by his work.


During the invasion of Kars by Armenians, due to worsening situation Shenlik who had come to Kars from Childir, decided to return back. On his way back to Childir he ran into a Russian general with cavallry. The general asked Shenlik about the situation and whether he would choose to stay on the side of Osmans or support the Russian Tzar. Shenlik answered him with a poem that he would stay faithful to his native land and the ruler given to him by God:


The Russian general praised the poet’s faithfulness to his religion, confessing that he would have immediately ordered his execution, had ashik vowed loyalty to the Russian Tzar. Compared to many of his contemporaries, Shenlik stood out as a poet most of all inspiring resistance to occupation forces. 



During the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Shenlik’s hero tales and became the source of faith and renewed strength for local resisting militia forces. The following poem («We won’t let our motherland to the enemy as long as we are alive») was even used as an independence hymn by the warriors:



We believe that reconsideration of will help to raise the falling interest of the younger generations to the values of our national culture.


Ashik Shenlik will remain in our memory as an outstanding personality who kept alive in the mids and hearts of people the folk culture of Caucasian Turks through his tales, poems and


In 1913, when singing at a wedding, a group of ashiks with malicious attitude towards Shenlik spilled poison into his food.  Poisoned, Shenlik boarded a train to Arpachay, however felt worse on the way and died in the village of Dilaver. His body was taken to the village of Hozu and from there to his native village of Suhara where he rests in peace ever since.


Thank You Alpaslan Pehlivan

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