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Pir Sultan statue at Çilehane hill at HacıbektaşA song dealing with the demise of Pir Sultan as he proceeds to his execution while Hızır Paşa – the bloody tyrant referreed to – orders the people to cast stones at him. Legend has it that Pir Sultan’s friend, Ali Baba, tossed a rose; a dissembling act that wounds Pir Sultan the deepest. This of course, as Gölpınarlı and Boratav (1943) the first to publish the text note, revisits the story associated with the martyrdom of Mansur al-Hallaj in 922 when his friend Shibli threw a rose when the people began to stone Hallaj. As Annemarie Schimmel describes it (Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 1975), when Shibli did this Hallaj sighed since those who threw stones did not know what they were doing, but Shibli did. And this has much the same theme in the Pir Sultan context – it is the betrayal that wounds.

Aslanoğlu  (1984) rejects this as a Pir Sultan text and claims it as a composite of verses from Aşık Hüseyin and Tarsuslu Sıkdı. I have not been able to locate the full text of Aşık Hüseyin although Avcı gives a mahlas verse from Aşık Hüseyin (probably 18th century) from a mecmua provided by Adil Ali Atalay that reads: ‘Hüseyin’im eyder can göğe ağmaz / Hakk’tan emr’olmazsa ırahmet yağmaz / Şu illerin sözü hiç bana değmez  / İlle dostun sözü yareler beni‘ (Ali Haydar Avcı Osmanlı gızlı tarihinden Pir Sultan Abdal, 2006 p. 342-343).  Tarsuslu Sıdkı Aslanoğlu refers to Aşık Sıdkı (Pervane) and a text is found in the major collection of Sıdkı’s lyrics compiled by his grandson Muhsin Gül (1984) that bears some similarity. Indeed a number of Sıdkı’s lyrics do bear the language of some of the most renowned lyrics attributed to Pir Sultan including Gelin canlar bir olalım and Kul olayım kalem tutan eller. The source of the text published in Gölpınarlı and Boratav is Aşık Ali İzzet who was forthcoming in his openness about attributing texts as he felt appropriate (see again Ali Haydar Avcı’s monumental work Osmanlı gızlı tarihinden Pir Sultan Abdal (2006 p. 236-351) for a consideration of Ali İzzet’s influence in respect to these lyrics). So Aslanoğlu’s assertion may have merit – but only so far, since it remains without question an important and fixed text of the Pir Sultan of tradition. It is sung to a fine tune, and perhaps the finest recording is that by Feyzullah Çınar made in Paris for Radio France in 1971 under the sponsorship of the late Irene Melikoff.

Pir Sultan Abdal: ‘Şu kanlı zalimin ettiği işler’

Translation: Paul Koerbin

Those blood tainted tyrant’s deeds

Make me moan like a lonely nightingale

Stones rain down like a torrent upon me

But it is the friend’s mere pinch that wounds me

Friend and foe are revealed in my dire straits

My troubles that once were ten are now fifty

The order for my death is fixed to my neck

So let them strike me down or let them hang me

I am Pir Sultan Abdal my soul does not flee

If not decreed by God mercy does not rain down

The stones of those strangers will never touch me

But it’s the rose of that friend that wounds me 


Şu kanlı zalimin ettiği işler

Garip bülbül gibi zareler beni

Yağmur gibi yağar başıma taşlar

Dostun bir fiskesi yaralar beni

Dar günümde dost düşmanım bell’oldu

On derdim var ise şimdi ell’oldu

Ecel fermanı boynuma takıldı

Gerek asa gerek vuralar beni


Pir Sultan Abdal’ım can göğe ağmaz

Hak’tan emr olmazsa irahmet yağmaz

Şu illerin taşı hiç bana değmez

İlle dostun gülü yaralar beni