2 types of folk literature

Folk Literature


The literary works, which is based on syllabic meter like minstrel poetry different from classical school of poetry, the oral literary works whose owners can not be determined such as proverbs, legends, tales, stories, anecdotes, lullabies, folksongs, riddles, folk music forms, wailing are all under the name of “Folk Literature”.

MINSTREL LITERATURE Minstrel is a poet type which is seen from the beginning of 11 th and 12 th centuries in Turkish Folk Literature. It’s believed that the minstrel poet takes his poetry power from his drinking the wine of love which his master presented to him in his dream and dreaming the image of his lover. “Folk poet” is used instead of “Folk minstrel”. Folk mistrals have left many works having different subjects. Since most of these works were told by illiterate minstrels impromptu, some of them were forgotten and some of them were protected. The folk poems of the minstrels are told impromptu.

MANİ (Turkish folk-music forms) They are quatrains sang according to the syllabic meter of generally whose teller are nor known. Bayati word is used to call mani in Eastern Anatolia. The rhyme order is a-a-b-a

Examples of Mani’s

RIGMAROLE These works are generally in the children traditions and which can be produced with main rhyme and rhymes and which are arranged according to the similarities of sounds and words and whose tellers are not known. They can be classified as

  • Tale rigmarole
  • Play rigmarole

Ceremony rigmarole

Examples of Rigmarole

Folk song is the name mostly used to show every kind of folk poem which is sung with a melody in oral tradition of Türkiye. Names of Lullabies, wailing, folk poems, tunes can be used according to the classifications of the words and tune in special conditions.

Examples of Folk Songs

LULLABY These are literary works which are sung to make the children sleep or to make them stop crying with a simple language and syllabic meter and with a melody.

Examples of Lullabies

WAILING These are literary works sung with melodies which express the feelings of fright, anxiety, sorrow and mutiny in cases of natural disasters, deaths, illnesses and helplessness. Singing a wailing is called crying a wailing and the one crying a wailing is called “wailer”.

Examples of Wailing

TALE Is a type of expression which is imaginary, is on unknown time and which does not aim to make the listeners believe. To draw the attention of the listener on the take rigmarole are told in the beginning in the end or in some proper places.

Examples of Tales

ANECTODES Are the short literary works which focus on the events of daily lives and which aims to draw results from the told events and in which satire, witty remorks and humor exist.

Examples of Nasreddin Hodja

STORIES Are a way of expressing Heal events of life in a long form in which the sounds and mimics are used in combination with melodies and saz.

They are divided into two groups according to their dimensions.

  • Short stories having a simple structure and which have been taken from a legends, tales or real lives and which focus only on an event. Telling them may take at most two hours.
  • The stories which focus on a group of crowded people, the unexpected situations coming one by one and as a result, the difficult events. This makes the story to be told in a longer time. These stories may continue to be told 1-7 nights.
Examples of Stories

RIDDLES Are stereotyped words which asks about natural events and human beings, the living things such as animals and plants, goods, religious subjects and motives; aiming to make associations. The equivalents of these words are accepted without any dispute.

Examples of Riddles

PROVERBS Are the words that we have inherited form our ancestors, that have a certain opinion and whose tellers are not known and which are used in daily languages.

Examples of Proverbs

LEGENDS Legends which are a sort of Folk Literature, making a cultural transfer from past to today, are one of the areas helping to contribute the structure of human beings and cultural structure that they produced. Is one of the types  of literature which is formed attributing supernatural characteristics to real and imaginary beings, places and events, which canalize the individual and social life of a person with the belief that they are told as real, and whose tellers are definite. They may be classified according to their subjects as:

  • Legends on historical places, people and events
  • Legends on supernatural beings
  • Legends on animals
  • Legends on religious subjects.
  • Legends on plants and trees

Legends on natural surrounding and events

Examples of Legends
  • May God let nobody be in difficult situation.
  • May God let you get what you desire.
  • May God let your child be brought up with mother and father.
  • May God give you blessed increase.
  • May God not let you in need of others help.
  • May you see happy days.
  • May God increase your knowledge
  • May God give you a long life
  • May your foot be lake, your head spring
  • May God forbid.
  • May you be great man
  • May your head be upright
  • You become successful in this matter, Congratulations.
  • Thank God, we have seen present days
  • Don’t you worry, may your life be spared.
  • My God do not spare your blessing on my child
  • I am in very difficult situation, please save  me my God.
  • Thank God, I am very well
  • May you see better days
  • May your turn come next
  • Every thing depends upon health, the rest is in vain.
  • May God give  extra for you
  • I wish God, hope God, be that day today.
  • May God give you a harmonious living together.
  • May your hands never see trouble !
  • May it stay in your hand
  • May you marry and see better days
  • May it be as you wish
  • I wish you live as you like
  • May you pass away later
  • May God bless your fore fathers
  • May you live happily in your new home
  • May it bring you luck
  • May “Hızır” visit you
  • Anybody who does good May God save him from bad luck
  • Let us say good, let it be good
  • May God have everybody to  be charitable
  • May God save you accident and trouble
  • May nobody feel suffer
  • May God not give blind eyes
  • May God save you from bad things
  • May you not be eaten by everybody
  • May you be family with your son, neighbour with your daughter.
  • May your life be blessed
  • May you live happily in your country, may your mouth be sweet, may it bring you good luck.

IMPRECATIONS (CURSES) Imprecations (curses) are integral part of our daily life, very important subject of folklore. Angers, hatreds, rages, irremediable resistances from adults to minors, from minors to adults, or between furious people have been reflected through these cursing phrases. They are simple, sincere, clear. Such words are a compound of hopes and hopelessness, fears and joys, angers and repentances. Some of such cursing words used in İnegöl are listed hereunder:

  • May God give you thousands of trouble.
  • May God curse you.
  • May God put you in need of a slice of bread,
  • May God punish you
  • May God not make you unhappy
  • God damn you
  • God, may your ankles broken.
  • You may not attain your desire.
  • May rock fall on your head.
  • May he/she die
  • May you fall down
  • May you eat humble pie
  • May a big rock fall on your head
  • May you without head
  • May your one day life one day
  • May the devil take you
  • May you burn in fire of hell
  • May you suffer greatly, if God pleases.
  • May you feel much sorrow
  • May you die
  • May your tongue be held and not speak
  • I wish your chin be broken
  • May you burst
  • May you be target for double bullets
  • May you not find remedy for your trouble
  • May a wasp sting your tongue
  • May your trouble not be cured
  • May you no longer speak
  • May you hold your tongue
  • May you be come mad
  • May you get no benefit from my milk you suck
  • May your hand and arm be broken off
  • May your hand and leg be useless
  • May blood drop on your hand
  • May your hand and leg got entangled
  • May you suffer from your children
  • May you go but not return
  • May you die.
  • May your eye become blind
  • May your eye’s light fade out
  • You don’t make me happy, so you may not see better days
  • May your greed never be satisfied
  • I did not enjoy the advantage of it, it may not bring you benefit.
  • You have spoiled my life, may your life be spoiled.
  • May you have great harm
  • “İrmiyesice”
  • May Blind Devil curse you
  • May your eardrum burst
  • May you be unlucky
  • May you be exterminated
  • May you become baldheaded
  • I have been deeply depressed, Damn you
  • May you become penniless
  • May you not attain your desire
  • Whatever you have done, may you deserve the same
  • May you be worst than me
  • May your family become destroyed
  • May your family die out
  • I wish you were  never born
  • May you die because of me
  • May he be frightened to death.
  • May you burst out
  • May you be broken to pieces
  • May you suffer great misery.
  • May you get baldheaded
  • May their urine be stopped
  • May your wickedness cease to exist only by your death
  • Acaroğulları: Based on surname of “Acar”, which refers to all members descending from the same family.
  • Akbabalar: Members of the family whose surname is “Akbaba”
  • Almanyalılar (Those from Germany): They are called with this name because they lived in Germany for a while.
  • Amet Çavuşlar: They are called with this name because the father performed his military service as sergeant
  • Arabacı Yaşar : He is called with this name since he earns his life by doing profession of riding wagon.
  • Ballıklı Sütçü Hasan: He is given this name because he came from the village of “Ballık” and sold milk.
  • Bekçiler: Occupation of father is watchman.
  • Belbeller: Father of the family is barber.
  • Calgıcı Arif:   He is a musician who plays musical instruments in festivals.
  • Çargan Hatçe : This name has been given her because she has spoken too much.
  • Değirmenciler: They are called with this name because they have a mills in their village.
  • Elektrikçi Selimler: The person whose name is Selim has been called with this name because all of his family performs the profession of electrical works.
  • Ezan Dede: He is called with this name because he goes to mosque ten minutes before the time of “Ezan”
  • Fırıncılar: They have their own bakeries.
  • Gölemenliler: This family has been called with this name because they have come from the village of “Gölemen”.
  • Habeş Osman: He is called with name because he does not know what to do.
  • Karabıyık Mustafa: He has black moustaches 
  • Koreliler: Father of the family involved in the war of Korea
  • Kürt Yusuf: He is given this name to understand his race.
  • Lümbeli Mustafa: He has come from the village of “Lümbe”.
  • Pomak Ahmet: Because his origin was “Pomak”
  • Sağarların Fatma: This name is given to her because her father is deaf.
  • Seyde Ağalar: : Because they have a lot of properties, this name is given to them.
  • Şişko Fadime: She has received this name because she is very fat
  • Tatarlar: This family acquired this name because of their Tatar origin.
  • Tekel Hatçe: She received this name because she goes always to Tekel (Monopoly) and buys items of monopoly. 
  • Tilki Remzi: He is given this name because of his cunningness like fox.
  • Topal Sümko: meaning cripple “Süleyman”.
  • Topçu Mustafa : He is given this name because he set football.
  • Torunlar: He is called with this name because he received attention of everybody while walking with his grandchildren.
  • Uzun Caferler: Because he is very tall he is called with this name.
  • Yılanlı Karı : She is called with this name because it is believed that a snake is present in her.
  • Sedirlinin Aziz Efendi (Mr. Aziz from “Sedirli”).
  • Yağcıların Ahmet Ağa (Mr. Ahmet from “Yağcılar”)
  • Kıl boyunun Ali Efendi ( Mr. Ali of slender neck)
  • Çıravzın Ali
  • Tahta Pıcağın Ömer ( Ömer of wooden knife)
  • Yorgansızın Üssün Oyma kapılının Hüseyin ( Üssün of without quilt, Hüseyin of carved door)
  • Altı aylığın Ali Bey (Mr. Ali of six months)
  • Wailings with their stories, Ahmet Z. Özdemir 1994
  • The Declarations of IIIrd International Congress of Turkish Folk Literature and Folklore, 1995
  • The Declarations of International Silk Rood Folk Literature Symposium, 1995
  • The Declarations of Nasreddin Hodja Symposium, 1997
  • The Declarations of Vth International Congress of Turkish Folk Culture, the section of Folk Literature 1-2,
  • Poem Competitions on “Family and Society” and “Tolerance” between Folk Poets in 1994-1995.
  • A Fütüvvetname whose writer is not certain Assoc. Prof. Ibrahim Aslanoğlu, 1997.
  • The Cenknames of Prophet Ali in Folk Literature, Prof. Dr. İsmet, 1997.
  • Texts of Dobruca Turkish Folk Literature, Prof. Dr. Enver Mahmut, Dr. Nedret Mahmut, 1997.
  • An Attribute to Pertev, Naili Boratov, 1998
  • An Anthology of Living Folk Poets, 1993.

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Folk Literature

Folk literature, also referred to as oral tradition, encompasses the lore, tales, songs, proverbs, riddles, and other cultural narratives that have been preserved by communities and passed down through generations. These narratives play a significant role in perpetuating the values, norms, and traditions of societies, reflecting their beliefs, histories, and life philosophies.

2 types of folk literature

Folk songs, often termed ‘the music of the people’, are traditional melodies with lyrics that encapsulate the emotions, experiences, or stories of a community [1] . The themes range from love and war to nature and daily life. Owing to their oral nature, they evolve over time and can carry diverse versions across different regions.

  • Example: “Barbara Allen,” a traditional British ballad, which has various renditions across English-speaking nations.

Folk tales are fictional stories passed down orally that depict heroes, villains, and magical elements. These tales often serve to impart moral lessons to younger generations [2] .

  • Fairy Tales: These are magical narratives involving mythical creatures like dragons, fairies, and witches. Example: “Cinderella.”
  • Fables: These are short stories, typically featuring animals as characters, aiming to convey a moral lesson. Example: “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Myths are ancient stories that seek to explain natural or social phenomena. They often involve gods, goddesses, and supernatural beings, reflecting a society’s religious and cosmological beliefs [3] .

  • Example: Greek mythology’s “Creation of the World” offers an explanation for the origin of the universe.

Legends are semi-true stories, grounded in historical facts but enriched by mythic qualities. They feature heroic characters and extraordinary events and often serve as a reflection of the cultural values of a society [4] .

  • Example: The legend of “King Arthur,” who, according to folklore, was a British leader fighting against Saxon invaders.

Proverbs are short, well-known sayings that express a general truth or advice. They encapsulate the wisdom and common sense of a community and are used to guide behavior.

Riddles are thought-provoking questions or statements that require creative reasoning to solve. They often serve as a form of entertainment and mental exercise.

  • Example: “What has keys but can’t open locks?” (Answer: A piano.)

Anecdotes are short, interesting or amusing stories about real incidents or people. They often serve to illustrate a point or support a claim in conversation or literature.

  • Example: The story of George Washington cutting down a cherry tree to illustrate the virtue of honesty.

Ballads are narrative poems or songs that tell a story, often of a romantic or tragic nature. They originated from the tradition of storytelling in song and were passed down orally over generations.

  • Example: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” an English ballad by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Folk literature, in its various forms, mirrors the collective wisdom, moral standards, traditions, and beliefs of a community. By studying these narratives, we gain a deeper understanding of human culture and its evolution.

[1] Nettl, Bruno (2005). “The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts.” University of Illinois Press.

[2] Zipes, Jack (2006). “Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre.” Routledge.

[3] Armstrong, Karen (2005). “A Short History of Myth.” Canongate Books.

[4] Tangherlini, Timothy R. (1998). “Legends: A Casebook.” Garland Publishing.

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Folk Literature. Types of folk literature Myths Legends Epics Folk tales Tall tales Fairy tales Fables Folk songs Proverbs.

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