Book of Dede Korkut - an early Turkish epic poem
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Book of Dede Korkut

Nobody knows who composed the Book of Dede Korkut, or exactly when, but it was probably composed in Central Asia and then written down in the Ottoman Empire around 1400 AD.

In the story, Grandpa Korkut, or Dede Korkut, was a wise man who helped people out with their problems. Dede Korkut helps people out in sixteen short stories or episodes. One of these stories is the long epic of the Alpamysh. Another story tells about a wild man (like Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh) who becomes civilized and then kills his half-brother, a monster named Tepegoz, or "High-eye" (compare to the Greek story of the Cyclops). Other stories tell how good Muslim heroes defeat bad pagans.

The last chapter of the Book of Dede Korkut is a list of wise sayings, like the Bible's Book of Proverbs or parts of the Quran.

Bibliography and further reading:

More Central Asian stories
More about Central Asia
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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