Research Article


DOI :10.26650/TUDED2021-917072   IUP :10.26650/TUDED2021-917072    Full Text (PDF)

Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons

Erkan Kalaycı

Menakıbnames are called velayetnames in Bektashi culture and represent texts that narrate tales of miraculous deeds or keramet performed by prominent figures of a sect. When the first examples of menakıbnames began to be offered in the ancient Islamic world, they aligned with the essential value that good deeds should be praised, describing virtuous actions and exemplary behaviors. However, as Sufism became widespread in the Islamic world, menakıbnames transformed into texts that also detailed the miraculous deeds of the Sufi saints. Examples of the performed miracles were offered through word of mouth in numerous sect circles to glorify the saints of the sect circle from which they originated. The initial oral testimonies were later recorded in writing. These texts encompass vibrant motifs and represent sources of extensive information about the culture, belief structure, social order, and religious beliefs of the period wherein they were inscribed. Velayetnames extol and glorify the deeds of Bektashi saints; an oft-encountered motif in them concerns a fight against a dragon, and numerous examples of these accounts may be cited. The accounts are striking in their descriptions of Bektashi saints grappling with this creature. The mythic form of the dragon as a being of immense power has captured the imaginations of many cultures across the world, including the Turkish. Apart from depicting fights against this mythological entity, the velayetnames convey the underlying allegorical connotation of conflict against a mythic entity represented as a destructive force. This cosmic battle against chaos constitutes a basis for the preservation of the cosmos in its simplest form, the social order. The present study examines this battle between universal order and disorder through the conceptual framework of Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampfy. 

DOI :10.26650/TUDED2021-917072   IUP :10.26650/TUDED2021-917072    Full Text (PDF)

Hermann Gunkel’in “Kaosla Mücadele” Teorisi Bağlamında Bektaşi Velayetnamelerinde Ejderha ile Mücadele Üzerine Bir İnceleme

Erkan Kalaycı

Bektaşi geleneği içerisinde “velayetname” adı verilen menâkıbnâmeler, bir tarikatın büyüklerinin keramet adı verilen olağanüstü eylemlerinin anlatıldığı metinlerdir. İslam dünyasında örneklerinin verilmeye başlandığı ilk dönemlerde temel anlamı “övülecek güzel iş, hareket”e uygun düşecek şekilde menkıbeler faziletli işlerin, örnek davranışların anlatıldığı metinler iken tasavvuf düşüncesinin İslam dünyasında yaygınlık kazanmaya başlamasıyla birlikte sufilerin kerametlerinin de anlatıldığı metinlere dönüşmüştür. Pek çok tarikat çevresinde örnekleri verilen, içinden çıktığı tarikat çevresinin velilerinin yüceltilmesi mantığını taşıyan bu metinler sözlü kültür ortamında aktarıldıktan sonra yazıya geçirilmişlerdir. Yazıya geçirildikleri dönemin kültürü, inanç yapısı, sosyal düzeni ve dini inançları hakkında pek çok bilgi veren bu metinler içerdikleri motifler bakımından da son derece zengin oldukları görülür. Bu bağlamda Bektaşi velilerinin kerametlerinin anlatıldığı ve böylelikle yüceltildiği velayetnameler içerisinde karşımıza pek çok örneği çıkan motiflerden biri de ejderha ile mücadeledir. Türk kültüründe ve dünya üzerindeki pek çok milletin tasavvurlarında sahip olduğu büyük güçle ve yıkıcı tabiatıyla yansıtılan ejderha ile Bektaşi velilerinin giriştiği mücadeleler dikkat çekicidir. Velayetnamelerde yer alan bu mücadele sadece mitolojik bir varlığa karşı verilen bir savaş olmanın ötesinde derinlerine inildikçe mitik varlığın irtibatlandırıldığı kaosla girişilen ve kozmosu veya en basit haliyle sosyal düzeni korumanın esasını teşkil ettiği bir boyuta sahiptir. Bu çalışmada Hermann Gunkel’in kaosla mücadele kavramı çerçevesinde Bektaşi velayetnamelerinde ejderha ile mücadele durumu irdelenecektir.


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


Stories of miraculous deeds are called keramet. Narratives of such feats performed by prominent figures of a sect are termed menakıbnames and are also known as velayetnames in Bektashi culture. These texts reveal considerable information about the culture, social structure, and religious beliefs of the times in which they were recorded. The word menakıb means praiseworthy actions. In the early phase of Islam, these texts merely described the praiseworthy acts performed by Prophet Muhammad’s companions. In time, as Sufism expanded and large Sufi dervish orders were founded, the words of wisdom, virtuous deeds, and the miraculous actions or keramet of the Sufi saints were also recorded. Initially, such accounts of keramet in the Sufi tradition were orally transmitted. Numerous motifs may be observed in the menakıbnames, and Bektashi culture has instilled its velayetnames with many pre-Islamic era elements of Turkish culture as well as features adapted from neighboring cultures with which Turks were in contact. The struggle against a dragon is one such motif, many examples of which may be cited in Bektashi velayetnames.

Dragons appear in the mythologies of numerous nations across the world. Although this creature is sometimes depicted in a good way, the dragon symbolizes great power and can wreak immense destruction. Hence, in certain cultures, including Turkish culture, it is an oft-repeated leitmotif, a recurring theme, portrayed as a threat to the cosmos. The dragon is thus related to chaos, which represents the antithesis of the order of the universe, which is believed to have been constructed by the gods. The velayetnames are written records of the miraculous deeds of the Bektashi saints. Their recurrent motif of the struggle against a dragon to illustrate that an extraordinary feat does not merely signify fighting a mythical creature. Rather, it conveys an underlying allegorical connotation of conflict against a mythic entity represented as a destructive force. Hence, this conflict is between forces representing chaos and those denoting the cosmos or order in any form.

In the Ancient Near East, the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish describes one of the most ancient prototypes of the motif of the fight against chaos. Parallels to this account also exist in the Baal Cycle, which forms a part of Ugarit texts. This motif also occurs in other religious and mythological texts such as the Old Testament and the Rig Veda. 

Hermann Gunkel attempted to expound this motif, which is also scattered in the Old Testament, noting similarities with Enuma Elish in the struggle between Marduk representing the cosmos and Tiamat denoting chaos in Enuma Elish to the battle between Yahweh and the dragon Leviathan in the Old Testament. His Chaoskampf theory is based on his work titled Schöpfung Und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit: Eine Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung Über Gen 1 Und Ap Joh 12 (Creation and Chaos in the primeval era and the eschaton: A religio-historical study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12). This treatise was published in 1895, and to date, it has attracted considerable support as well as much criticism. Scholars still reference this concept in their studies. Chaoskampf is conceptually adaptable, and its traces may be observed in works of oral literature as well as television series. The current study applies Hermann Gunkel’s theory of Chaoskampf to the analysis of the conflicts between Bektashi saints and dragons.

This study comprises five sections. After the introduction, it describes the elements of the Chaoskampf motif and demonstrates the conceptual flexibility of this theory. Next, it elucidates the portrayal of the dragon as a chaotic mythical creature in Turkish culture. Then, it examines Bektashi velayetnames through the perspective of Chaoskampf, or the motif of the struggle of order against chaos, and renders an overall assessment.


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APA

Kalaycı, E. (2021). Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons. Journal of Turkish Language and Literature, 61(1), 357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


AMA

Kalaycı E. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons. Journal of Turkish Language and Literature. 2021;61(1):357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


ABNT

Kalaycı, E. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons. Journal of Turkish Language and Literature, [Publisher Location], v. 61, n. 1, p. 357-377, 2021.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Kalaycı, Erkan,. 2021. “Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons.” Journal of Turkish Language and Literature 61, no. 1: 357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


Chicago: Humanities Style

Kalaycı, Erkan,. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons.” Journal of Turkish Language and Literature 61, no. 1 (Dec. 2021): 357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


Harvard: Australian Style

Kalaycı, E 2021, 'Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons', Journal of Turkish Language and Literature, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 357-377, viewed 9 Dec. 2021, https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Kalaycı, E. (2021) ‘Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons’, Journal of Turkish Language and Literature, 61(1), pp. 357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072 (9 Dec. 2021).


MLA

Kalaycı, Erkan,. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons.” Journal of Turkish Language and Literature, vol. 61, no. 1, 2021, pp. 357-377. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


Vancouver

Kalaycı E. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons. Journal of Turkish Language and Literature [Internet]. 9 Dec. 2021 [cited 9 Dec. 2021];61(1):357-377. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072 doi: 10.26650/TUDED2021-917072


ISNAD

Kalaycı, Erkan. Using Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Theory to Examine Bektashi Velayetnames About Struggles with Dragons”. Journal of Turkish Language and Literature 61/1 (Dec. 2021): 357-377. https://doi.org/10.26650/TUDED2021-917072



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Submitted15.04.2021
Accepted07.06.2021
Published Online29.06.2021

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