Pir Sultan Abdal: Encounters with Persona in Alevi Lyric Song

The lyric songs of Pir Sultan Abdal provide one of the richest perspectives on the historical construction, communal perceptions, and creative impetus of Alevi culture. While the traditional verse and persona associated with Pir Sultan Abdal have engendered a large body of commentary and texts in Turkey since the early twentieth century, Alevi lyric song (deyiş), and Pir Sultan Abdal in particular, have received little attention in English-language scholarship. This article presents an introductory work in English on Pir Sultan Abdal, providing a presentation of this significant persona by focusing on encounters in text and expressive culture in order to establish the beginnings of a broad interpretive perspective. More specifically, the self-naming convention (mahlas), as exemplified in the case of Pir Sultan Abdal, is identified as a largely overlooked lyric device requiring further scholarly and comparative investigation.