Aşık Veysel: Icon of Turkish bard culture

Aşık Veysel: Icon of Turkish bard culture

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Aşık Veysel: Icon of Turkish bard culture

Nearly half a century since his passing, Aşık Veysel, a torchbearer of Turkish folk poetry bard culture is still remembered for his verses championing peace, harmony, and unity in society.

Veysel Şatıroğlu, widely known as Aşık Veysel, was born in the central Anatolian province of Sivas in 1894. At the age of only seven, he lost the use of one of his eyes due to smallpox and was left completely blind after losing the other in an accident.

Though deprived of his ability to see, Veysel continued to engage with the world through his poems and songs, with his baglama – an indigenous Turkish lute-like instrument – becoming one of his closest companions and a vessel for his art.

Veysel devoted himself to the centuries-old Anatolian Ashik tradition of bards. In one of his poems, he wrote: 

"Kurdish, Turkish, or Circassian

They are all children of Adam

Together they become martyrs, veterans

What would be wrong with that?

Have a look at the Bible, Quran

Worthy all four [holy] books are

Discriminating and looking down

What a shame that is."

After his death on March 21, 1973, due to lung cancer, Veysel's house was turned into a museum and continues to draw visitors interested in his life and traditional Anatolian culture.

His verses capture the essence of Anatolian tradition and feeling on the deepest facets of life. "Your beauty would be utterly worthless [to me] were it not for my love for you," he says in one of his poems.

In another of his best-known songs, Veysel addressed the certainty of death, saying: "I'm on a long and narrow road, I walk day and night."

Veysel's influence on Turkish music flowered in the 1970s as renowned Turkish singers retold his songs and poems, often tinged with both happiness and sadness and inspiring a new generation of folk artists in Turkey.

Veysel was also a source of inspiration for Joe Satriani, a celebrated electric guitar virtuoso. Satriani included two tributes to the Turkish bard, Andalusia, and Aşık Veysel, on his 2008 album Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock.