Advices on “mind” and “wisdom” in turkish culture from yûsuf of balasagun to abay of semey Türk kültüründe “akil” ve “bılgı” üzerıne öğütler: Balasagunlu yûsuf’tan semeylı abay’a

Kasapoğlu Çengel H.

Milli Folklor, vol.2020, no.126, pp.184-197, 2020 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2020 Issue: 126
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: Milli Folklor
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Sociological abstracts, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.184-197
  • Keywords: Abay Kunanbay, Advice, Cultural codes, Mind and wisdom, Yûsuf Has Hâcib
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: No


© 2020, Milli Folklor Dergisi. All rights reserved.There are many witnesses about the relationship between the concept of “advice” and “moral” in the history of Turkish culture. These records could also be followed through literary works written throughout his-tory. Kutadgu Bilig (KB) an example of competent politics and advice, is the first source on this subject. Social and political morality, which forms the basis of the state understanding of the period, comes to the fore in the text. “Social morality”, which means spiritual code, requires protection and glorification by the state. In this context, “political morality” is expected from the state and, in a narrow sense, the ruler, who has a responsibility towards the nation. As a result, it is frequently repeated that the top management of the state should have “in-telligence” and “wisdom”. These values are the characteristic feature of all persons (Kün Togdı, Ay Toldı, Ögdülmiş, Odgurmış) that represent four concepts in the text (justice, fortune, wisdom, and fate). “Mind” and “wisdom” are among the basic qualities that a ruler must have: ked öglüg kerek beg ongarsa işin/bilip başlasa ötrü işler başın (KB, 1989) “The prince requires a good mind if he is to undertake affairs and bring them to a successful end.” ay edgü törülüg arıg beg silig/bayat birdi erdem sanga ög bilig (KB, 3112). “O pure and gentle prince! God gave you wisdom and virtue and favored you with all good things.” The same qualifications are sought in the senior officials of the state. The couplets about mind (ukuş) and wisdom (bilig) are concrete examples that the state tradition of Karakhanid was merit-based 950 years ago. The value given to mind, knowledge, and wisdom is also understood from the vizier Ay Toldı and the son of the vizier Ögdülmiş, whom the ruler Kün Togdı chose as consultants. Ay Toldı, on the one hand, represents fortune; on the other hand, it is depicted as an intelligent (tetig), wise (ukuşlug), knowledgeable (biliglig), brave (yigit), soft-tempered (kılınçı amul), pleasant spoken (sözi yumşak) personality: bir ay toldı atlıg er erdi tetig/eşitti bu çavıg itindi itig (KB, 462) “There was a man of wit named Full Moon/Ay Toldı who, hearing of the king’s fame, resolved to serve him.” yigit erdi oglan kılınçı amul/ukuşlug biliglig hem öglüg köngül (KB, 463) “He was a young man, of quiet demeanor, intelligent, and wise of heart.” Ögdülmiş, is the true representative of the concept of “intellect”. The ruler’s working with a smart and knowledgeable advisor reveals the state tradition of the time: ne edgü turur bu kişike öge/ögi bolsa ötrü atagu öge (KB, 1995) “What a fine thing a good mind is. The man with a good mind (ög) is rightly called ‘Counselor’ (öge).” In the Orkhon Inscriptions written three centuries before KB, Bilge Kagan, his vizier Bilge Tunyukuk and Bilge Kagan’s mother İlbilge Katun were called “bilge/wise” title as well. This willpower over the Göktürk Khaganate draws a profile of an “eternal and prosperous nation” with a ruling address and advice style; Sabımın tüketi eşidgil… “Listen to my words…” Uighur Kagans and senior executives are also called “wise”. In addition, the importance of “wisdom” is emphasized in verse pieces left by the Uighurs. All these records reveal that the Turkish state understanding and education that put emphasis on knowledge existed before the Karakhanids and KB was not the first. KB was influenced by Islamic tradition in terms of principles related to wisdom, science and ruler’s qualifications; however, it bore traces of Turkish values to a great extent. In KB, which represents the Turkish-Islamic state understanding, this moral relationship between the ruler and the ruled is expressed in the style of “advice.” The tradition based on mind and wisdom continued in works written (Dîvânu Lugâti’t-Türk, Atebetü’l-hakâyık, Dîvân-ı Hikmet) after KB. This tradition passes into Kazakh steppe culture, primarily through works (Mahbûbu’l-kulûb) written in Chagatai, the common Central Asian literary language, oral culture/tradition, and folk poetry (Kazakh aqın, jıraw and jırşı “minstrel”) It comes to life again with Abay Kunanbay’s work called Gakliya