The most famous statue erected in honour of Pir Sultan Abdal or course remains the eight metre tall statue on the hill above the village of Banaz, where it stands gazing towards the distant but imposing peak of Yıldız Dağı (Star Mountain). Photographs of that statue, taken during the annual Pir Sultan Abdal festival appear in a number of places on this blog, for example here. The aşık statue on Çilehane hill above the town of Hacıbektaş while perhaps not specifically a representation of Pir Sultan, has the standing figure that may certainly be understood to embody something of his spirit. If Banaz (and it’s statue) stand at one end of the heartland associated with Pir Sultan, Tunceli (and it’s statue) perhaps provides the bookend for the eastern regions of this heartland. The Dersim is the great land of Alevi (specifically Kurdish Alevi kızılbaş) resistance and so it is fitting that a worthy icon to Pir Sultan stand here. The statue was erected a decade ago and stands in the grounds of the very fine Tunceli Cem Evi that sits on a cliff above the junction of the Pülümür Çayı (stream) and Munzur Irmağı (river) one kilometre outside the town centre on the Erzincan road. I visited Tunceli and the cem evi in the autumn of 2013. Below is my translation of the dedication monument that sits alongside the statue.
This work, constructed by Sinan Samat, has been presented to the people of Tunceli.
To set up the statue of Pir Sutlan Abdal, the patron saint of ozans, for Tunceli means to remember Imam Hüseyin, Hacı Bektaş Veli and Düzgün Baba.
It also means, again, to commemorate the Pir ozan; and Yunus Emre, Şah Hatayi, Seyit Nesimi, Fuzuli, Virani, Yemini, Kul Himmet, Abdal Musa, Kaygusuz Abdal, Şeyh Bedrettin, Aşık Veysel, Nazım Hikmet, Ahmet Arif, Aşık Daimi, Feyzullah Çınar, Davut Sulari, Muhlis Akarsu, Hasret Gültekin, Nesimi Çimen, Mahzuni Şerif, the teacher Arif Sağ and the souls lost at Sivas and all the ozans and poets wishing to make the world in which we live beautiful.
The lands of Anatolia have given rise to thousands of ozans and poets over the centuries. Our ozans who hold a special place in our folk literature carry on to our own times, in an artistic sense, the beautiful and the bitter events of our culture and the history lived in our lands. They ensure we do not forget our past. Our Tunceli has given rise to ozans who have a special place in the art of the people. Realising this journey I felt it necessary to set up this monument in memory of our ozans.
As a result of the discussions I had with my friends, we agreed on the figure of Pir Sultan Abdal as the patron saint of ozans. Endless thanks first of all to Hasan Güyüldar, Haydar Aygören, Turgut Öker and Yusuf Demir; to my friends who contributed ideas for the realisation of this project; to my sculptor friends; to all who laboured; and to my wife Filiz.
Sinan Samat Tunceli 1-8-2003
The names of the ozans mentioned are interesting and instructive. There is of course the seven great Alevi ozans, Pir Sultan, Hatayi, Fuzuli, Yemini, Nesimi, Kul Himmet and Virani. Then there are those that extend the perception of Alevi culture such as the original great Turkish mystic poet Yunus Emre, the dervish Kaygusuz Abdal and the rebel Bedrettin (who commands a strong influence among Balkan Bektaşi-s). There are the great modern, humanist aşık-s Veysel and Daimi, the latter like Davut Sulari closely associated with the Erzincan region. There is Turkey’s greatest modern literary poet (and Communist) Nazim Hikmet and the Kurdish poet Ahmet Arif famous for his poem Hastretinden prangalar eskittim (set to music and recorded by the late great Ahmet Kaya). There is, slightly curiously (though welcome) inclusion of the influential bağlama player, singer and interpreter of Alevi song (and Turkish folk music more generally) Arif Sağ, noted with the honorific hoca ‘teacher’. So too Feyzullah Çınar and Mahsuni Şerif and Nesimi Çimen who all have born the epithet of a modern day Pir Sultan. And of course, those who perished in the Madımak hotel massacre in Sivas in July 1993: Hasret Gültekin, Muhlis Akarsu and Nesimi Çimen. It is a list of greats well suited to reminding us of the richness of the culture in all its beauty and its pain, as the sculptor intends.
The statue stands in the front garden of the Cem Evi surrounded by 12 seats and a hearth. The following photographs show the context.
In the photograph above note the top right hand corner of the photograph where you can see the watchtower of the ever watchful eye of the Turkish military in this area.
The following photograph is the view looking back towards the Tunceli township.