Who is This Shökli? -Proposals for a Novel Reading of Dede Korkut-Ahmet Şefik Şenlik
As the earliest evidence in Turkish for the presence of Turks in Anatolia, the tales of the Dede Korkut constitute the most important linguistic monument of Oghuz Turkic. In addition to critical editions and popular adaptations, the Book of Dede Korkut has been the subject of numerous essays, with nearly two thousand papers published to date. Each new study contributes to a better understanding of the text, which is beset with difficulties in reading and interpretation, yet much work remains to achieve a satisfactory understanding of it. The events narrated in the stories offer important clues that they were indeed set in Eastern Anatolia. The work contains important evidence on the life, beliefs, and customs of both the Turks and of the peoples and countries with whom they were in contact. Thus, the name Georgia appears five times and the name of the Georgian king 13 times in the Dresden manuscript. The name of the king in question has typically been interpreted as Schökli (Şökli) in studies conducted in Turkey and beyond. The interpretations Sökli, Sökeli, Şökülü, and Şükli should also be noted, although they are preferred by rather few researchers. While this word has been interpreted in various ways to date, no solid argument has yet been offered for these interpretations. This article therefore proposes a novel interpretation of the word in question.
Kim Bu Şökli? -Dede Korkut Okumaları için Teklifler-Ahmet Şefik Şenlik
Türklerin Anadolu maceralarının başlangıcında geçen hadiselere dair Türkçe ilk vesika olan Dede Korkut Hikâyeleri, Oğuz Türkçesinin en önemli dil yadigârıdır. Eser üzerine bugüne kadar iki bine yakın çalışma yapılmıştır. Dede Korkut Kitabı, metin edisyonları ve sadeleştirme çalışmaları haricinde birçok makaleye de konu olmuştur. Her yeni çalışma, okuma ve yorumlama bakımından zorluklar barındıran bu metnin daha iyi anlaşılmasına katkıda bulunmuştur. Fakat hâlâ hatadan salim bir duruma gelinememiştir. Hikâyelerde geçen hadiselerin Doğu Anadolu'da cereyan ettiğine dair önemli işaretler vardır. Eserde Türklerin buradaki yaşantılarına, inançlarına, âdetlerine ve münasebette bulundukları millet ve ülkelere, bunlarla yürüttükleri ilişkilere dair hatırı sayılır malumat mevcuttur. Dresden nüshasında Gürcistan adı beş defa, Gürcü Meliki'nin (!) adı on üç defa geçmektedir. Bu melikin adı şimdiye kadar Türkiye'de ve Türkiye dışında yapılan çalışmalarda umumiyetle "Şökli" suretinde okunmuştur. Bunun yanı sıra daha az araştırmacı tarafından benimsense de Sökli, Sökeli, Şökülü, Şükli gibi yorumlar da vardır. Kelime bugüne kadar muhtelif şekillerde yorumlanmış, ama bu yorumlar sağlam bir şekilde temellendirilememiştir. Bu makalede kelimenin okunması hususunda farklı bir teklif barındıran görüşümüzü dile getirmek istiyoruz.
Extensively studied from various perspectives over more than two centuries, the Book of Dede Korkut constitutes one of the most important linguistic and cultural monuments of the Turks. More than 1600 studies of the work have been published to date, and each new one contributes to a better understanding of the text, helping to settle problematic issues in its reading and interpretation. Nonetheless, several unresolved or misread words still await clarification or correction.
This article makes a novel proposal concerning one proper noun that appears multiple times in the text but has been consistently misread in existing studies. The word in question is used to refer to the Georgian king and is usually interpreted as “Şökli,” or less frequently as “Sökli,” “Sökeli,” “Şökülü,” or “Şükli.”
The name Gürcistan (Georgia) appears a total of five times, twice in the third story and three times in the ninth. It is first mentioned in the second story in the context “sası dinlü Gürcistān” (Georgia of false religion) (D20b/4). Immediately thereafter, the author refers to “kāfirlerüŋ azġunı Şökli (!) Melik” (Şökli Melik, the depraved one of the infidels), who is presented as the king of these lands (D21a/1-2). This word, used in reference to the king, appears a total of 13 times in the Dresden manuscript, nine times in the second story, once each in the third and fourth stories, and twice in the ninth story. The Vatican manuscript, which differs in terms of the number and order of the stories, uses the name 11 times, once each in the second and fourth stories, and nine times in the third story. In every instance in both manuscripts, the name under study is postmodified with the epithet “melik” (king) (see Appendices 2 and 3).
Turco-Georgian relations date back to the mid-11th century, but this relationship is known to have been less than amicable both initially and subsequently. By the early 12th century, Georgia had achieved the peak of its power and territorial extent. During the period in question, the Kipchaks of the Caucasus lived under Georgian rule and actively collaborated with them, which entailed fighting against Muslims (Arabs and Oghuz Turks). Georgia experienced its golden age under Queen Tamar until the first quarter of the 13th century (Toumanoff 1966: 593 ff). This era saw Georgian territory extend as far as the vicinity of Erzurum to the west. Later, the Mongol invasions took their toll on Georgia, which began to decline throughout its vast dominions, leading to contraction and fragmentation.
This paper includes a brief excerpt on Turco-Georgian relations (i.e., hostility) and the Georgian commander (i.e., the king), which is presented in a simplified form in Appendix 1.
Returning to the word in question, it should be noted that a meaningful explanation for it cannot be achieved while disregarding the Georgian language. It is a crucial point of departure to assume that the name (word) in question refers to the Georgian king. Before resorting to folk etymologies that draw on Turkish, Arabic, or Persian, it would be more reasonable to first consider the Georgian language.
In the Dresden manuscript, written without harakahs, the word starts with sīn (س (in two cases and with shīn (ش (in 11. Accordingly, the spelling variants (سوکلی (and (شوکلی (should be transliterated as and <ŞWKLY>, respectively. The likelihood of forgetting three dots in two instances seems greater than that of erroneously inserting three dots on 11 occasions. Hence, the former transliteration should be ruled out as an alternative. Indeed, this line of reasoning was also adopted by researchers who either drew upon the Dresden manuscript or considered it to be more reliable in their critical editions. Consequently, this initial sound was unanimously thought to be /ş/ (see Appendix 2).
By contrast, the Vatican text, marked with harakahs, consistently represents this word as starting with sīn (س .(Hence, the text here could be transliterated as (see Appendix 3). Only Rossi built his study on this manuscript alone, and he thus interpreted the word as “Sökli” (1952). In their study providing separate transcriptions of both manuscripts, Tezcan & Boeschoten also read the word as “Şökli” in their chapter on the Vatican manuscript. Yet, in a footnote they remark that the name in question “was written in a way to allow an interpretation like Sökli (and at times Sökeli)” (2012, s. 310).
In conclusion, this article claims to have found the correct interpretation of the word Şökli/ Shökli, which has been consistently misread by hundreds of studies to date.