Alevilik ve Bektaşilik Araştırmaları Sitesi

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Kizilbash Alevi Dedes

Yazdır PDF

Ali Yaman (Istanbul University)*


Before discussing some of the less known aspects of the Kizilbash Alevi Dedes1, who have been of fundamental importance in the survival of Anatolian Alevism until today, a general assessment of the topic, I believe, will be useful. Up to now, many things have been written and certain theories suggested about the genesis and roots of Alevism by the Orientalists, foreign missionaries, travelers, and local and foreign researchers. While some of them argued that “the Alevi groups in Anatolia are the remainders of Christian elements2, others claimed that “Alevism is a destructive movement originating in the Persian civilization which aims at undermining Islam3, and yet others suggested that “Alevism is the essence of Islam.”4 At times, Alevism became victim to ideological conflicts. Attempts were made to explain it in connection to left-right, Turk-Kurd or Alevi-Sunni divisions. In sum, everybody interpreted the topic subjectively. Unfortunately, it is still possible to encounter such emotional assessments and impositions that are far from the seriousness of a scientific approach.

Especially towards the end of 1980s, there was almost an explosion in the number of publications about Alevism. But this publication explosion proved to be no more than transient, because a number of researchers, ignorant of the scientific method, and without even feeling a need to review the existing literature, contributed to the confusion surrounding the topic. In the end a variety of definitions of Alevism mushroomed: “it is a sect, a religion, an order, a path, a way of life etc.” As a natural result of the failure of the universities and government institutions to develop a sound approach to the subject, it remained vulnerable to manipulations. These manipulations are still going on, including even by those who claim to serve the Alevis. Hence the need for scholarly research as the only way to block such manipulations is increasing day by day.

In studying Anatolian Alevism, one has to consider the following point which has been firmly established by scholars; without grasping this point, one can not understand Alevism in Anatolia, and whatever is built on this misguided basis will be far from being scholarly and full of misconceptions. Alevism can only be understood within the larger context of the various religious and cultural movements that the Turkish masses encountered first in their fatherland and later in Asia Minor, i.e. Anatolia, as well as on the way from the former to the latter during the prolonged process of their migration. That means it is historically and sociologically invalid to search for the roots of Alevism-Bektashism exclusively in the events that gave rise to the Sunni-Shi’i split. We believe this is the conclusion reached today by local and foreign studies. This religious and cultural syncretism, which is the result of contacts throughout centuries and in different geographies between Turkish masses, and other groups with different beliefs and cultures, is the only key for an understanding of Alevism.5

If we have to define it concisely, we can say that Anatolian Alevism is a heterodox6 understanding of Islam resulting from this syncretism.7 Considering the historical and sociological circumstances, it is natural that this heterodox8 understanding of Islam has been a folk Islam that is based on oral tradition, within which old beliefs and myths survive under an Islamic cover. Now we can turn to our discussion of the institution of dede in Alevism.


We can classify the sources under consideration into four groups: First, the books of “BUYRUK” [lit. commandment] and “MENAKIP” [hagiography] which include the pillars of the Alevi faith, second, the documents of “SECERE” [pedigree] etc., third, dissertations, books and articles by local and foreign scholars, and fourth, the records of my interviews with Alevi Dedes and their disciples in the Convent of Hidir Abdal Sultan in the village of Ocak in Erzincan, in the Convent of Karaca Ahmet Sultan located in Uskudar, Istanbul, and in the Convent of Sahkulu in Goztepe, Istanbul.


Before going on any further, I would like to discuss briefly some interesting characteristics of Alevi Dedes, which create problems for the researchers. In this regard, the most important issue is that of “secrecy”. It is out of the question to betray the secret [sirri fas etmek]. This is a theme encountered in the books of Menakib, as well as brought up regularly by Dedes during the Cem rituals. We believe that “secrecy” functioned as a cover that protected Alevism from external influences, and complemented its tied internal organization.9 Knowledge pertaining to Alevism cannot be revealed to everybody. One has to be careful to protect this holy knowledge from foreign elements, as neither a dede nor a talip [disciple] can divulge this knowledge to a non-Alevi. But the large-scale immigration of the Alevis from the rural to the urban centers has initiated a process of transformation which also changed the ways in which Alevis look at this issue of secrecy. The public articulation of the Alevi identity is still a source of stigmatization for many. There are still Alevis who hide their true identities for fear of retaliation in the workplace, in their neighborhoods, and at school. For the dedes the problem is exacerbated due to several other factors. They might want to stick to tradition and not reveal any information at all. At the same time, they might find it futile to try to communicate with people who wouldn’t understand them or who would be skeptical towards stories of saints. Following the erosion of dede-disciple relations, it is natural that dedes gradually became indifferent to these issues. They have been deprived from fulfilling their functions as dedes for decades, and in many ways, the same situation continues today. It is due to these reasons I have tried to summarize that it is difficult to collect detailed information from the dedes. For instance, the German researcher Hugo Grothe, who, around the turn of this century, traveled places in Anatolia settled by Alevis, expressed the difficulties of collecting reliable data as follows: “…This is all the data and observations I have regarding the Kizilbash. Only one who lives with the Kizilbash for a while and gains the trust of the Dede can collect more detailed and satisfactory information…10 Similarly, Süleyman Fikri, who has works on the history of Antalya, in which he also sometimes refers to the Tahtacis, writes the following about their secretiveness. “… Because they were so close-mouthed, there were strange rumors among people about their beliefs. In fact, they pledged for the preservation of the secret even if at the expense of their lives…11

We have observed that today many Dedes appreciate people seeking information from them. They like being talked to. This must be seen as a natural result of the loss of prestige they have experienced following their deprivation of their functions as dedes. They seem to be willing to recapture the influential position they once occupied in the community. But we also see that there is a tendency in the hundreds of Alevi organizations founded since the early 1990s to isolate the Dedes from their decision-making processes. Dedes are expected to carry out the religious services in the manner the leadership of the organizations ask for. This picture is confirmed by the practices of the convents of Sahkulu, Karaca Ahmet and Garip Dede, as well as of the Cemevis where Dedes carry out a limited number of functions -all religious in nature- as paid employees. Hence, their position depends on the decision of the leadership of the organizations. In other words, the traditional dede-talip hierarchy has collapsed.


The institution of dede is the most important of all the institutions integral to the social and religious organization of the Anatolian Alevis. Although much weakened as a result of the socio-economic transformation experienced in Anatolia towards the end of the nineteenth century, and particularly due to accelerated migration from the rural to the urban areas after the foundation of the Turkish Republic, it played a primary role in the survival of Alevism until today. That is why it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this institution is of key importance for an understanding of Alevism in Anatolia. Especially since the beginning of this century, the institution and its power to carry out its functions have eroded significantly, and today it is far from being an active institution despite the fact that there are still dedes, as well as talips. This situation signals a period of transition. We will see in the near future whether this institution, whose recovery seems to be impossible, will play a meaningful role in giving shape to the contemporary Alevi community, or else will disappear completely.

Here I am not talking about the Sheikh of the Nusayris or the Arab Alevis, who is similar in his functions to a Dede. One notices significant differences between their religious rituals and practices, and those of the Kizilbash Alevis. The Nusayri Alevis, who live in the Hatay (İskenderun) province have a different belief system than the groups we commonly call Kizilbash Alevis, some of whom are also known under the name of Tahtacı, Çepni, and Amucalı. Those need to be treated separately. Since our subject is limited to the Kizilbash Alevis, we will deal neither with the Nusayris, nor with the branch of the Bektashis that follow the dedebaba as their religious leader. Now we can start presenting our data on the institution of dede:

The institution of dedes is based on a three tiered hierarchy:

  1. Mürşid
  2. Pir
  3. Rehber

In some regions this hierarchy is modified in such a way that the Pir and Mürşid change places.12 Without any doubt, this is exclusively a functional hierarchy, as all involved come from a dede family. They fulfill functions that are complementary in nature, and would be meaningless in isolation from each other. The dede families, all of them called ocakzades, had distributed these duties among themselves.13

In general, we can classify the Kizilbash Alevi dedes into three groups:

  1. Independent ocakzade dedes.
  2. Dedes/babas following the Çelebis of Hacı Bektaş.
  3. The dikme [lit. planted] dedes/babas commissioned by the ocakzade dedes.

As is known, the leaders of the community in Alevi villages are dedes. They are at the top of the social hierarchy. Their power and authority are very important in the maintenance of public order. As Eröz noted:14 “…The community is under tied discipline, and they act according certain rules and sanctions…” All Alevi Dedes are affiliated with a particular Ocak [lit. hearth]. Because of this, they are also called Ocakzade [lit. son of hearth]. The Ocakzade dedes are assumed to be descendants of the Prophet, and are accordingly called “seyyid”. Dede families often preserve documents, called secere [pedigree] and approved by certain convents or Nakibül Eşraf [chief of the descendents of the Prophet], which prove their seyyid lineage. Most of the dedes are travelers, meaning that they periodically visit their disciples outside of their own villages to perform rituals, inform the community and resolve disputes. It is also known that there is a division of labor among the ocakzade dedes which correspond to the positions of Mürşid-Pir-Rehber. According to his internal hierarchy, the Mürşid is the highest authority. The Rehber is subject to the Pir, and the Pir to the Mürşid. The Mürşid is not independent in his actions and decisions, either. In a spiritual sense, he is bound by the “Yol”, as well as by religious texts such as the “Buyruks” it is even possible that the community denounces a dede who violates the requirements of his position. In some cases, the Mürşid may avoid deciding a case or may be incompetent to do so. Under these circumstances, the case would be referred to the Convent of Hacı Bektaş or the Ocak of Düşkün. This is basically the practice followed by all the Alevi groups in Anatolia since the 16th century, with the exception of the followers of Dedebabas. Although there are some other exceptional cases, we will treat the topic in its general outlines here.

We don’t have concrete data about the percentage of Alevis from a dede line. On this point, the English anthropologist David Shankland suggested that despite the difficulty of estimating, we could assume about 10 % of the Alevi population to be from a dede lineage.15 We have to note here that being from a dede family is not the same as actually occupying the position of dede. In other words, there are people who come from a dede family, are addressed and respected as such by talips, but never really actively perform the duties of a dede. Among the children of a dede, usually only one of them, the one who is qualified to do the job, replaces his father.16


The title “dede” [lit. elder, also grandfather] just like “baba” [father] and “ata” [ancestor, father] has been commonly used to denote a sign of respect. In Anatolia the word has not been used as frequently as “baba” or “ahi, seyh, dede”. The latter terms are more widespread. Hence, the term “dede” have become to denote national legendary heroes and persons of high religious standing.17

The most well-known usage of the word “dede” before the name of a person is the one in the name of Dede Korkut, who is a legendary poet of the Oghuz Turks. This mythological character carried traits such as prophesying and super natural powers as well as poetic talents. Also, it is related that Dede Korkut has a son named Ürgeç Dede18. A similar usage is reported in the records of Germiyanogulları tribe: “.. Resul Bey’den Dede Balı’ya miras değmiş. Dede Bali hizmetleri dahi ataları caniçun vakfeylemiş,.19.” [“ .. Dede Balı has inherited from Resul Bey and used it for charity in the name of his ancestors..”] Another person who used the title “Dede” is Dede Garkın, who had lived in the first half of the 13th century and was of the same heterodox dervishes as Baba Ilyas. There are lots of couplets in Elvan Celebi’s “Menakıbu’l-Kudsiyye Fi Menasıbi’l-Ünsiyye, which chants his name, such as

Dede Garkın kerametin görür bir

Bir divara biner yürir ol şir20

It is seen that as of the 13th century the title “Dede” has become as widespread in usage as “ahi, baba, seyh, abdal” in various sources. It is possible to come across the names of many people such as Çicek Dede, Hüsam Dede, Kırık Dede, Kasım Dede and Söğüt Dede in the work of by Ömer Lütfi Barkan’s work titled “Kolonizatör Türk Dervişleri”. Barkan discusses the Defter-i Hakani registry books in his work and it is evident that in the Balkans and in Anatolia in addition to the names of the missionary dervish family names, titles such as “ahi, baba, dede, şeyh, hoca, haci, pir, abdal, gazi, dervis” have been used to a great extent. In general, these records date to 900-1000 in the islamic calendar.21 Furthermore it is possible to find titles such as “Dede, Dede Arslanlı, Dede Bali, Dedecikli Dede, Dede Çavuş, Dede Gündüzlü, Dedeler, Dedeli” in the documents of the Prime Ministry Archives.22

Similarly, the title “dede” has been commonly used in Evliya Çelebi’s “Seyahatname”. According to F. W. Hasluck, a British researcher, the above mentioned titles were given to the leaders of Turkmen tribes who were also in the position of being political and religious leaders of their communities. He also states that these leaders’ religious and political responsibilities have been separated due increasing complexity of the community structure. Hasluck have made an appropriate finding in that titles such as “pir, dede, baba, seyh” have, in time, come to denote exclusively religious connotations.23 Accordingly, individuals such as Sarı Saltuk, Dede Garkın, Hacı Bektaş, Abdal Musa were both political and religious leaders. In time, families which were descendants of these individuals became very influential in the religious domain. For example, in Dersim, the leaders of the tribes and these “ocakzade” families would carry on different social responsibilities or functions but nevertheless continue to exert influence on the society.24 Alevis also used terms such as “pir, piro, mursid, sercem, seyyid” which had the same meaning as Dede. 25

In order to understand the institution of dede, it is necessary to compare it with similar counterparts such as kam (saman, baksi) found in older Turkish societies. Naturally one should also consider certain traits which come to be shared and adapted as a result of the cultural and religious interactions. As Prof. Fuad Köprülü appropriately states: “In order to understand the religious values of the Turkmen tribes of Anatolia, one should consider their religious beliefs at the time they arrived Anatolia and what they found there in terms of existing religious affairs.”26


In what follows I will try to explain the origins and formation of the institution of Dede in Anatolia in light of historical events. The formation of the institution of Dede is very closely related to the colonization movement headed by the sheiks and dervishes following their migration to Anatolia. Despite limited historical evidence explaining the formation of this institution, the survival of the names of these dervishes as names of Alevi ocaks proves that there is a close relationship. The names of these half-warrior colonizing dervishes are still used in the names of the current Alevi ocaks. These dervishes, who have settled in various parts of Anatolia, have established dervish lodges, increased the population and enriched these regions economically and have come to exert both economic and moral power.27 These Alevi ocaks have embodied their spiritual identity, and have been continued by their descendants until the present. According to historical evidence, we have obtained the roots of this institution and Alevi ocaks can only be explained in this manner. The following illustrates various historical examples, which validate this hypothesis:

In the 13th century there were a lot of powerful and active sheiks in Anatolia, some of which were Baba İlyas, Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli, Emirci Sultan, Dede Garkın and Sarı Saltuk. Their power and influence are evidenced by the extent of the Babailer uprising. To this day it is possible to find Alevi ocaks which carry the names of Dede Garkin and Sari Saltuk. Also, as seen in the Vilayetname, there are associations that carry the names of Karadonlu Can Baba, Cemal Seyyid, Seyyid Mahmut Hayrani, Hacı Doğrul (Gözü Kızıl) and Güvenc Abdal. In addition, names of dervishes such as Samit Abdal (Sheik Samit or Samut) and Hızır (Hıdır) Abdal, who were recorded in the Tales of Otman Baba and in Sheik Muhyiddin Çelebi’s Divan (15th century).28 Other Alevi ocaks still carry the names of figures such as Abdal Musa and Seyyid Ali Sultan (Kızıl Deli Sultan), who were participated in conquests of the Ottoman Sultans in the 14-15th centuries.

According Alevi tradition, the issue of Evlad-ı Resul [descendents of the Prophet], which is a mandatory qualification for the institution of Dede has developed as a result of Safavi propaganda and taken its form today. Due to intense Safavi influence and activities, Alevis became more organized. In addition, the institution of Dede became consolidated with the help of written documents brought by the halifes [assistant] of Shah İsmail and heterodox Islam, embedded with Shiite motifs had spread throughout Anatolia and the Balkans. Hence, the halifes have contributed in attaining a more structured form of Alevism by spreading these written documents. The issue of ancestry in the institution of dede has also gained in importance during the Shah İsmail period. The Safavids have used the notion of Sayyid to exert influence over the Anatolian Alevis as they had used the same means to gain social standing in the past. Cults, such as Hz. Ali, the Twelve Imams, and the mourning of the Kerbela incident, had been brought to Anatolia in the late 15th century by Safavi propaganda and played a role in enhancing the issue of ancestry. Here, we should emphasize a hypothesis. The genealogy tree of the followers of Sheiks such as Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli became ancestral family trees in the eyes of the public filling a social void.

In conclusion, the institution of Dede was born as a result of these legendary characteristics of dervishes such as Dede Garkın, Sarı Saltuk who were descendants of the Twelve İmams. Moreover, their descendants have been enormously respected by Alevis and became the Dede associations. The similarities between the Dede and the Turkish men of religion both in context and form should also be noted. The study of ancestry in the context of Dede should take into consideration the meaning it had during the Old and Middle Ages. During these times, being a descendant of the nobility had its privileges. Those who wished to become either politically or religiously powerful had to prove that they were the direct descendants of either the Sultan or the Prophet.29


In terms of their internal organization, every Alevi-Bektashi community follows a particular dergah [convent] or ocak [hearth]. Socially, the discipline connected to one’s affiliation with a dergah or ocak is of primary importance. Alevi Ocaks carry names of holy religious figures who are, by tradition, assumed to be descendants of the Prophet through the line of Ali (Seyyid), such as Dede Garkın, Sarı Saltuk and Kara Donlu Can Baba. Over time the Ocaks were institutionalized by the descendants of these holy dervishes, who were called ocakzade [lit. sons of hearth], hence, it has become a tradition to limit the position of dede to members of these ocakzade families.30 Let’s now focus our discussion on these Ocaks. Just as in the case of the institution of dede, Ocaks have rarely been subject to scholarly studies. So what we will present here will inevitably be of introductory level.


We know that different Alevi-Bektashi groups hold different beliefs in this regard based on their own traditions. Dedebabas, Çelebis, Ocakzade Dedes, Babas and Dikme Dedes all suggest different origins. We can summarize all these different theories as follows:

  1. The Alevi Ocaks were first founded during the time of Hacı Bektaş Veli.
  2. The Alevi Ocaks existed before Hacı Bektaş, and were founded by the descendents of Ali.
  3. The Alevi Ocaks first emerged during the time of Shah Ismail.
  4. The religious and political leaders of the Turkmen tribes who immigrated into Anatolia later became founders of Ocakzade dede families.

In fact, each of these theses should be treated separately and in more detail.31 During my interviews with the Dedes, I have encountered with interesting explanations regarding these theses. I will deal with them at length in another work. Here I am limiting myself to the general outlines of our topic.


We can classify the Alevi Ocaks according to four different criteria,

According to their functions:

  1. The Ocaks of the Mürşids
  2. The Ocaks of the Pir
  3. The Ocaks of the Rehber
  4. The Ocaks of the Düşkün [“excommunicated”] .

According to their organizational patterns:

  1. Independent Ocaks
  2. Ocaks following the Çelebis of Haci Bektaş.

According to their ritual practices:

  1. Ocaks who use erkan
  2. Ocaks who use pence

Some independent Ocaks later joined the Celebi Ocaks, hence a distinction is also made between:

  1. Dönük [lit. converted] Ocaks
  2. Purut Ocaks


Among the Ocaks, there is a hierarchy of unknown origins.32 Some Ocaks are subject to others; while the letter is called the Ocak of the Mürşid, the former is called the Ocak of the Pir. The following are possible explanations for the existence of this hiearchy.


  • It might have to do with some Ocaks being older than others.
  • Some Ocaks might have a greater sphere of influence and more disciples.
  • It might be connected to the displacement or forced migration experienced by the heterodox Alevi groups who were in conflict with the central government.33As a result, some dede families would move to new places where they would found a new ocak under a new name. But it is possible that their original ocak would continue considering the latter as their own extentions, hence subject to them. Concepts such as the ocak of the mursid or the ocak of the pir must have emerged as a result of such processes.


Over time and with the exception of the Convent of Hacı Bektaş, which Alevis also call the Ocak of the Çelebis, this hierarchic structure among the Ocaks disappeared. The Çelebis expanded their influence over the Alevi community during the time of Çelebi Ahmed Cemaleddin Efendi (1862-1921), who propagated that “…the Ocak of Hacı Bektaş was the sercesme [lit. main fountain], and those who carry out the functions of a dede without its blessings were unauthorized, and the stick referred to with names such erkan, tarik, evliya, zulfikar, or serdeste were signs of Yezid…34 In an attempt to rally support to the war efforts of the country during World War I, Cemaleddin Efendi went all the way to Tunceli, and managed to establish Çelebi authority over some Ocaks. The Ocaks who recognized the Çelebi authority were called the dönuk [converted] ocaks, those who didn’t were called purut.35 The former is also referred to as pençeli, for they used their hands instead of a tarik (erkan) during the cem rituals.

There are also certain variations in terms of ritual practices between Ocaks in different regions. For instance, the Alevi Tahtacıs follow two Ocaks, one located in İzmir Narlıdere, the other one in Aydın Reşadiye. They are both independent Ocaks, with no others above or below them.36 This kind of organization based on Ocaks was the network that bound together Alevi groups living far away from each other. Lines of communication between them were kept open and active by the ocakzade dedes.

Alevi ocaks have varying spheres of influences in different regions. Ocakzede dedes cannot provide services outside of the regions and villages that follow their ocak. In a similar vein, a disciple remains in the same ocak as his father. Hence, every ocak had a specific sphere of influence. There are cases though when an Alevi group, which for some reason didn’t have an ocak and a dede to follow, would become the new followers of an established dede line.

Some ocaks, on the other hand, had a function similar to that of a higher court. Called the ocak of düşkün [“excommunicated”], they had the authority to reconsider the punishments given to the disciples, and even to cancel them. For instance, Hıdır Abdal in the village of Ocak in Erzincan is such an ocak of düşkün.37

Now that we have provided the general outlines of the subject, we can present a list of the ocaks. Some of the ocaks are also referred to with other names, which we didn’t include in our list. Since the ocaks were never studied by scholars before, it is possible that there are some omissions in the list. In putting together this list, I have used the following:


  • a variety of sources
  • some seceres
  • our interviews with the dedes




Ocak of Ağu içen Ocak of Baba Mansur, Ocak of Celal Abbas (Ali Abbas), Ocak of Dede Garkın, Ocak of Derviş Cemal, Ocak of Garip Musa, Ocak of Güvenç Abdal, Ocak of Emirbeyliler (Hacı Emirli), Ocak of Hıdır Abdal, Ocak of Hubyar Sultan, Ocak of Hüseyin Abdal, Ocak of İmam Zeynel Abidin, Ocak of Kanber Abdal, Ocak of Kara Pirbad, Ocak of Koca Haydar (Haydarlı), Ocak of Koca Leşker, Ocak of Kureyşan, Ocak of Munzur Abdal, Ocak of Pir Sultan, Ocak of Sarı Saltuk, Ocak of Seyyid Ali (Kızıl Deli) Sultan, Ocak of Seyyid Baba, Ocak of Seyyid Mahmud Hayrani, Ocak of Seyyid Sabun, Ocak of Sinemil, Ocak of Sultan Onar, Ocak of Şah İbrahim, Ocak of Şeyh Ahmet Dede, Ocak of Şeyh Çoban, Ocak of Şeyh Delil Berhican, Ocak of Şeyh Hasan, Ocak of Şeyh Samut, Ocak of Üryan Hızır, Ocak of Yalıncık Abdal, Ocak of Yan Yatır(Yan Yatıroğulları)


Ocak of Abdal Musa, Ocak of Abdülvahap Gazi, Ocak of Ahmed-i Yesevi, Ocak of Anşa Bacılılar, Ocak of Ateşoğlu, Ocak of Battal Gazi, Ocak of Bostankulu, Ocak of Bulduklu, Ocak of Cemal Abdal, Ocak of Cibali ve Topçular, Ocak of Çarşanbalı, Ocak of Çavdarlı, Ocak of Derviş Ali Baba, Ocak of Derviş Beyaz, Ocak of Dinelli, Ocak of Eraslanlı, Ocak of Eşikli, Ocak of Eymirlerli, Ocak of Gemalmazlı, Ocak of Gökvelioğulları, Ocak of Gözcü Kara Ahmet Dede, Ocak of Gözü Kızıl, Ocak of Hacım Sultan, Ocak of Hamzalı, Ocak of Hasan Dede, Ocak of Haydari Sultan, Ocak of Horasanlı, Ocak of Işık Çakırlı, Ocak of İmam Rıza, Ocak of Kalender Dede, Ocak of Karaköseli, Ocak of Karaşar, Ocak of Karaşıh, Ocak of Kaygusuz Abdal, Ocak of Keçeci Ahi Baba, Ocak of Kız Süreği, Ocak of Koca Seyyid, Ocak of Koçu Baba, Ocak of Köse Süleyman, Ocak of Kul Himmet, Ocak of Mekanoğlu, Ocak of Nazlım Abdal, Ocak of Nuri Dede, Ocak of Otman Baba, Ocak of Özcanlı, Ocak of Pamuklu, Ocak of Perşenbeli, Ocak of Sarı Mecdin, Ocak of Sarıbal, Ocak of Seyyid Bilal, Ocak of Seyyid Gazi, Ocak of Seyyid Kemal, Ocak of Seyyid Seyfi, Ocak of Sınık Abdallı, Ocak of Söylemezli, Ocak of Sultan Şücaaddin Veli, Ocak of Şeyh Bedreddin, Ocak of Şeyh Süleyman, Ocak of Şeyh Şadılı, Ocak of Şeyh Safi, Ocak of Taptuklu, Ocak of Türabi Baba, Ocak of Uzunelli, Ocak of Yağbasan, Ocak of Yağmurlu, Ocak of Yılanlı, Ocak of Yunuslu.

These two lists are the most comprehensive that exist in the literature. Some of the ocak names given in the second list are subject to dispute. Only through more research can we resolve them. Identification of the ocaks will make it easier for us to understand the social and religious organization of Alevis in Anatolia.


According to the books of Buyruk which include the basic principles of the Alevi faith, and the traditions that survive among the Alevis, a dede must have the following qualifications:38

  1. to be a descendant of the Prophet (ocakzade)
  2. to operate as an educator and a moral guide (mürebbi) for the community
  3. to be knowledgeable and exemplary in his character and manners (insan-ı kamil)
  4. to follow the principles written in the Buyruks, as well as the established traditions of Alevism.


The main functions of the dedes can be summarized as follows:

  1. To guide and enlighten (irşad) the community in social and religious matters.
  2. To lead the religious rituals
  3. To punish the criminals, and to serve as an arbiter between conflicting sides.
  4. To lead ceremonies during occasions such as a wedding or a funeral.

We have to assess the significance of the dedes from a wide perspective that would take into consideration social, political, cultural and economic, as well as religious factors. In other words, we can’t reduce them to their religious roles, for they also fulfilled legal and educational functions, and worked as health providers. At the same time, the social and political leadership of the community also often fell on the shoulders of the dedes. In some exceptional cases, such as in the Dersim province,39 dedes shared the leadership position with the large landowners, the Ağas. Unless we look at these regional variations from a large perspective as described above, it is possible that we might think of them as strange phenomena.

Just like the Shamans in the old times, dedes were the carriers of a rich oral tradition, transmitted from generation to generation.40 In other words, in Anatolia, the Shaman [kam] of the pre-Islamic Turks was replaced by the dedes, babas and wandering minstrels. Through them have many saint stories, epics and folk narratives full of religious and cultural motives have survived until the modern times.

Even the visiting of the dedes by their disciples involve a series of rules and rituals. According to the Buyruk: “Thus it is known that one who is a Mürşid and a Sufi, has to follow three basic rules of conduct in arriving at the presence of his pir and mürebbi. First: his hands shall not be bare and empty. Second: he shall be ritually clean and not be bad-tempered. Third: He shall stand his hands folded in the presence of the Mürşid and the Mürebbi and the Ustad [master], so long as there are men of Şeriat with them. After the men of Şeriat leave, he shall stand up in presence [of the Mürşid or the Mürebbi] and get his blessings, and salute his feet, then his knees and then his hands. If there is with them men of tarika, the sufi shall stand in the position of dar-ı Mansur [at the center of the hall, as if confessing his sins] with his hands at his side. The Murebbi and the Mürşid and the Ustad shall pray, the talip and the murit and the sakirt shall prostrate, they shall rid themselves of Satan, may God curse him, and prostrate in front of exalted Adam.” 41



For Alevis, “YOL” [path] is a very important concept. The pedigrees of the dedes consistently emphasize this by saying “Yol cümleden uludur” [the Path is the most exalted of all].42 What is important is the “Yol” and not the personal desires and needs of an individual Alevi. All the latter are possible only in conformity with the former. Otherwise, the institution of düşkün would be activated. In other words, an Alevi would become a düşkün if he tries to satisfy his desires and needs without regard for the “Yol’. As Prof. Yusuf Ziya Yörükan noted “…Dede declares one a düşkün by saying to him ‘may your face be darkened’. Any more that person is deprived of the law of men….”43

The following are major crimes that lead one to the state of düşkün:44


  • killing a person
  • committing adultary
  • divorcing one’s wife
  • marrying a divorced woman
  • to steal



The functioning of what some researchers call the people’s court, or the düşkün meydanı, involves the following steps.45


  • An unlawful act is brought to the attention of the Dede either by the victim or a witness, or even sometimes by the guilty side who feels pangs of conscience, during or before the Cem ritual. The accused person might be a dede or a disciple, except that the former would be tried by a group of dedes, including his pir. If a Dede is denounced as düşkün, he looses his credentials to serve as such.

  • There are cases when the two sides of a conflict agree to resolve their differences outside of the Cem ritual; otherwise it would be brought up during a Cem, either by the Dede or one of the people involved, as a result of which the dede would then request the setting up of a düşkün meydanı.

  • Both sides of a conflict are given a chance to tell their sides of the story during the Cem. Dede has the discretion to decide the case either by himself, or through consulting the elderly members of dede families called Cem Erenleri. He can also consult the community if chooses to. The disciples would ask for permission from the dede to speak out on the issue.

  • Dede’s decisions are indisputable. In some rare cases, Dede might choose not to decide the case himself, and consign it to his Pir. Again in some rare cases, the decision might be referred to the Ocak of Hıdır Abdal in Erzincan or to the Çelebis in Hacı Bektaş for a reconsideration. Whatever the two latter decides is binding for both the dedes and the disciples. Accordingly, the accused might potentially get pardoned.

  • The punishment of düşkün is called “sitem” [lit. reproach], and can be of material or spiritual nature. If a düşkün doesn’t meet the conditions of his sitem, his case can be brought to the attention of the dede for a second time, or referred to a higher authority, as we explained above. The punishment can go as far as to total exclusion from the community. Such a person would be bared from contact with any member of the community, including his family, and wouldn’t be allowed to participate in communal rituals. This situation might continue for years, unless the düşkün is pardoned by the Dede in the presence of the whole community.


The institution of düşkün was of major importance for the maintenance of a communal discipline among the Alevis, although, just as other traditional institutions, it also has lost much of its power. There is clearly a direct connection between this and the erosion of the authority of the dedes in general.


It is necessary to deal with the root causes of the decline of the insitution of dede in detail. The most important factor in this decline has been large scale immigration into large cities,46 which basically broke the relationship between dede and talip into pieces.47 Services traditionally rendered by the Dedes are now provided by modern social institutions. During our interviews, we have often heard nostalgic statements about the decline in the personal qualities of both the dedes and the talips. It is, of course, natural for an average Alevi, who is not capable of making social and economic analysis, to make such erroneous assumptions in explaining the decline of the traditional institutions. It is the duty of scholars to explain this decline objectively with help of the scientific methodology.

As Öztürk noted, Alevism owes its survival and vitality to Pirs, Mürşids and Rehbers, who are the custodians the theoretical and practical knowledge of the faith.48 Whether they are loved or not, we can’t deny this important role played by the dedes. It is a fact that dedes had to face some series challenges in modern times. For instance, Naşit Uluğ, an official journalist of his time, accused the dedes by asserting that “the main source of trouble in Dersim are the seyyids49. At the same time, behind the scenes, some were suggesting the idea that the dedes could be used for political purposes. For instance, Prof. Hasan Reşit Tankut, the Alevi expert of the official circles, gave a report to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) on March 19th 1949, in which he suggested that the government should try to gain the support of their religious leaders as a short cut to keeping the Alevi masses on the side of the Party.50 Similarly, political parties on both sides of the political spectrum, at times, chose their candidates from among the dedes in places with a high Alevi concentration, which was nothing more than a simple election tactic.

Equally important was the prohibition of Sufi brotherhoods and the closing down of the dervish convents as part of Republican reforms.51 As a result, some dedes were harassed by the civil and military officials of the government while traveling outside of their villages. Stories are told of dedes whose beards were cut by the officials, which is symbolically a grave offense.52 According to some, such incidents, to a great extent, prevented the dedes from carrying out their periodic visits to their disciples living in distant villages. Hence the weakening of the dede-talip bondage. On this issue, Rıza Yetişen writes: “For a short while after the closing down of the dervish orders, there was an upheaval in the collective psyche of the people, but especially the younger generations got used to the new regime easily within a few years. It was such that, they soon began mucking their grandfathers, their fathers for their strange mentalities…”53 Similarly, İsmail Hakkı in his book entitled “Çepniler Balıkesir’de”, argues that with the banning of the dedes from traveling to their disciples, there was a general weakening in the religious and moral values of the community.54 However important these legal obstacles might have been, their role should not be exaggerated, for the primary factors which caused the decline of the institution of dedes were social and economic. Migration caused the disintegration of the social fabric, and with the spread of modern educational institutions and better communication, the relationship between dede and talip weakened. In this context Bumke counts the penetration of governmental institutions into the Dersim region after the 1938 Revolt, a region which hitherto was dominated by the wealthy land-owners, or Ağa, and dedes, or seyyid, as well as the modern schools, working in the urban centers, and less emphasis on endogamy among the causes of decline.55

Another challenge that the Dedes had to face was the rising ideological polarization, and the appeal of Marxism to the younger generations since 1960s . In fact, the Marxists’ search for a social basis for their ideology led them to involve the masses in this polarization, regardless of whether they were Sunni or Alevi.56 The extreme nationalists used similar tactics. The final blow to the authority of the Dedes came from the Marxists, who, within the framework of the exploiting versus exploited classes, placed the Dedes among the exploiting groups. The younger generations who evaluated the Dedes from such an ideological perspective lost all their respect and interest in them. As Kehl-Bodrogi put it: “…The younger generations who saw the dedes as rendering people stupid and exploiting them, refused to follow the dedes and give them what they had to give (hak’ullah)57. Eventually, this process which started in the urban centers also influenced the village communities.58 For instance, a field study by Mc Elwain shows that there are even villages where there isn’t a dede to lead the cem.59

Here I want to discuss shortly arguments about the exploiting of the Talips by the Dedes. This argument doesn’t have any scientific basis, it is a purely subjective claim. With some very few exceptions, the Dede families are economically weak in general. Often members of Dede families had to endure extra hardships, including harassment and exile. After their migration into big cities, many were employed in labor-intensive jobs, because they lacked the qualifications for other jobs. In the meantime, while the younger generations were attending modern educational institutions, the Dedes could not replenish their religious knowledge, which was becoming more and more irrelevant every day. Hence, they also came to be accused of ignorance. As we said above, the number of economically well-off Dede families, who, furthermore, could translate this economic wealth into political influence, was extremely limited.60 Let me give a couple examples of such cases. On April 8th 1921, those involved in the Koçgiri revolt sent a telegraph to the Parliament making certain demands. One of the signatures on the telegraph read as follows: “Alişir from the Saadat [descendants of the Prophet]”. Clearly, this choice of word is not a coincidence, and means that Alişir comes from a dede family.61 Similarly, the leader of the 1938 Dersim Revolt owed much of his prestige to his dede lineage. It is meaningful, for instance, that Memili Aga, one of the leading figures of the Kırgan tribe, wrote a letter to Seyit Rıza, where he addressed the latter as one from the line of the Prophet.62 Finally, some members of dede families have been elected to the Parliament, at least partly with the help of the appeal of their dede genealogy to the Alevi community.63


We have witnessed that there has been a revived interest in the dedes among the Alevis especially since 1990s. Without any doubt, this has much to do with the changing national and international circumstances. The collapse of socialism in Russia, and the rise of nationalist and religious movements in Turkey have all stimulated an endorsement of traditional values. More and more, Alevis are articulating their need for the services of a Dede. Dedes are employed in cemevis, in the convents of Karaca Ahmet Sultan and Şahkulu Sultan. There is even talk about founding schools to train Dedes. In the Convent of Şahkulu and in Mannheim Alevi Culture Foundation, courses are offered on Alevism. But all these don’t mean that the traditional institution of Dede is making a full-fledged return.

We have to acknowledge that it is, by nature, impossible for a traditional institution shaped according to the needs of a rural setting, to regain its full power and functioning in urban areas. The Dedes also realize this. The children of Dedes are less and less willing to shoulder the role of their fathers. For instance, Gürgür Dede, a well-known Dede from the Ocak of Şah İbrahim Veli described the situation in his family as follows: “…I have four kids. None of them could become a Dede. What would one do as a Dede if he doesn’t read, doesn’t practice, doesn’t internalize? Hence, with me, the line of dedes will come to an end in our family. They ask me: ‘Dede, aren’t you training your children [for the position]? Dede, what will happen to us otherwise?’ What can I do? One of my sons is a teacher, another one works in a bank in Mecidiyekoy. There is another one in Malatya who spends his time playing the saz for the visitors, and conversing with them…”64 As is seen, many from dede families choose not to commit themselves to the family tradition. The roles of the dedes, who are actively providing services today, furthermore, are limited to leading religious rituals and funeral services in the limited number of cemevis and convents. On the issue of Dedes’ position in today’s Alevi community, Gloria Lucille Clarke wrote based on her field research:65If asked directly, many dedes insist that there hasn’t been any changes in their duties; however, other explanations made during our interviews show that many changes, in fact, have been experienced. In some cases, the claim that nothing has changed reveals the ideal one wants to display rather than the actual reality. For others, this claim reflects the confidence in the continuity of traditional beliefs and practices instead of their contemporary position. Some interpretations, while exposing the inadequacy of the dedes in carrying out these duties, also emphasize that the standards in their minds have not changed. For instance, some dedes stated that they regularly performed cem rituals, but the private questioning of other members of the community revealed that no cem rituals have been performed for the last 20-30 years, or in some cases, it was claimed that the weekly cems were performed, while in reality they have been gathering only during specific holidays…”

Despite all these, it is possible to observe that most of the Dedes feel good about the relative improvement in their social positions. This must be seen as a natural result of the loss of prestige they have experienced following their deprivation of their functions as dedes in recent past. As we mentioned before, they seem to be willing to recapture the influential position they once occupied in the community. But we also see that there is a tendency in the hundreds of Alevi organizations founded since the early 1990s to isolate the Dedes from their decision-making processes.66 Dedes are expected to carry out the religious services in the manner the leadership of the organizations requests for. This picture is confirmed by the practices of the convents of Şahkulu, Karaca Ahmet and Garip Dede, as well as of the Cemevis where Dedes carry out a limited number of functions -all religious in nature- as paid employees. Hence, their position depends on the decision of the leadership of the organizations. In other words, the traditional dede-disciple hierarchy has collapsed. Based on my observations in the Alevi organizations, I can say that it is not very likely for this kind of arrangement, which grants a very weak status to dedes, to change. Hence, it doesn’t seem like the impetus to return to tradition experienced since late 1980s will, in fact, bring back the traditional role and status of the dedes. It is very interesting that within the internal hierarchies of the Alevi organizations, dedes are kept outside of the decision-making process, and are reduced to the status of paid employees.

As a conclusion, the institution of Dedes have played an important role and fulfilled important function among the Alevis. While today it seems very unlikely that it will recover from decades long of a decline, it might be possible that it will be revived in a different shape and with different functions that correspond with the needs of the contemporary Alevi community. Only time will tell. Let’s wait and see.


* Ali Yaman got his M. A. in Political History from the Institute of Social Sciences at Istanbul University. His M. A. thesis was on “The Institution of Dede and its Functions in Alevilik”, and he is now continuing his studies on “Changing Alevism” towards a doctorate degree.

1. In this article all quotations will be translated into english.

2. For instance see, M. F. Grenard, “Küçük Asya’da Dini Bir Tarikat: Kızılbaşlar (1904),” trans. By D. Bayrak, DENG DERGİSİ, year: 7, no: 37, September-October 1996, pp. 343-346.

3. An interesting example of this argument is presented by Tahir Harimi Balcıoğlu in his work entitled Türk Tarihinde Mezhep Cereyanları (İstanbul, 1940). The introduction of the same book by Professor Hilmi Ziya Ülken is a short but excellent response to this false theory.

4. If you ask Alevis themselves, they would say “we are the essence of Islam”. Some Alevis describe Sunnis as involuntary converts to Islam. And yet some others close the topic by saying “They are Muslim, we are Islam”. During our field research among the Alevi dedes and their disciples, it was possible to witness the variety of ways in which Alevis express their difference from the Sunnis.

5. What we have in mind here are works by scholars such as Fuad Köprülü, F. W . Hasluck, Irene Melikoff, Süreya Faruki and Ahmet Yaşar Ocak.

6. On this issue see, Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, Babailer İsyanı, Aleviliğin Tarihsel Altyapısı Yahut Anadolu’da İslam-Türk Heterodoksisinin Teşekkülü, expanded second edition, İstanbul, Dergah Yayınları, 1996, pp. 80-81.

7. According to Prof. Dr. Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, heterodoxy as a concept has three aspects: social, political and religious. Heterodoxy is the expression of a religious understanding that conflicts with and opposes the accepted religious understanding, i.e. orthodoxy. Heterodoxies lack the support of political authorities, and represent the religious understanding of the periphery. Ocak, ibid. p. 77.

8. Syncretism means bringing together a variety of religious and cultural elements, and integrating them with each other. For a detailed explanation see, Ocak, ibid. pp. 80-81.

9. We have to recognize that, in the spread of slanders such as “Mum Söndü” [lit. the candle was extinguished], the isolationist nature of the Alevi community played at least as much a role as the fact that the Ottomans were involved in a life or death kind of war with the Safavids.

10. Hugo Grothe, “Kürtler ve Kızılbaşlar,” In ALEVİLİK VE KÜRTLER, ed. by Mehmet Bayrak, Ankara, Öz-Ge Yayınları, 1997, p. 382; also see Stephen Van Rensselaer Trowbridge, “The Alevis or Deifiers of Ali”, HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW, 1909, p. 340.

11. Süleyman Fikri Erten, ANTALYA VİLAYETİ TARİHİ, 1940, p. 129.

12. Both of these versions are based on our interviews with Dedes belonging to different ocaks.

13. S. Öztürk explains the relationship between Talip-Mürşid-Pir-Rehber in the following way: “…Every Talip, Pir, Rehber and Mürşid have separately their own rehper, pir and mürşid. And they are all connected with each other. Let me explain it with reference to the above mentioned four. The rehber’s rehber becomes the pir of the talip. And the rehber of the pir becomes the mürşid of the talip…” Sezai Öztürk, Tunceli’de Alevilik Üzerine Sosyolojik Bir Deneme, İstanbul University, Department of Sociology B. A. Thesis, 1972, pp. 49-50. This hierarchical relationship has been also confirmed to a large extent by my interviews with Dedes from Erzincan, Tunceli, Elbistan, Sivas and Malatya provinces in 1996. On this issue, you can also look at, Peter J. Bumke, “Dersimde Kızılbaş Kürtler”, BERHEM, no: 11-12, 1991, p. 18.

14. Mehmet Eröz, Türkiye’de Alevilik Bektaşilik, İstanbul, 1977, p. 106.

15. David Shankland, “Anadolu Kırsalında Alevilik ve Sünnilik”, HACI BEKTAŞ VELİ, trans. By S. Olgun-Z. Yedigün, no: 4, August 1997, p. 27.

16. Some of the dedes I interviewed were of this kind, such as Abdal Kariman Dede from the Ocak of Derviş Cemal, whom I interviewed on March 16th 1997, in the Convent of Şahkulu.

17. For detailed information see, Mecdud Mansuroğlu, “Dede” In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol: III, p. 506; Süleyman Uludağ, “Dede” In TÜRKİYE DİYANET VAKFI İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol: VI, p. 76; Franz Taeschner, “DedeENCYCLOPEDIA OF ISLAM, vol: II, pp. 199-200; Asim Efendi, in his dictionary entitled Burhan-ı Katı’ also notes that the title “dede” is used for Kalenderi and Bektashi dervishes, AsIm Efendi, Burhan-ı Katı’, 1214, p. 264. F.W. Hasluck also provides valuable information on dedes, F.W. Hasluck, Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, vol: I, Oxford, 1929, pp. 133-134, 147, 151-152, 338.

18. Pertev Naili Boratav, “Korkut-Ata” In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol: VI, pp. 860-866. Dede Korkut is also referred as Dedem Korkut or Korkut Ata.

19. İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Devleti Teşkilatına Medhal, Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, fourth edition, Ankara, 1988, p. 160.

20. Elvan Çelebi, Menakıbu’l-Kudsiyye Fi Menasıbi’l-Ünsiyye (Baba İlyas-ı Horasani ve Sülalesinin Menkabevi Tarihi), ed. By İ. E. Erünsal-A. Y. Ocak, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Yayınları, 1984, p. 12.

21. Ömer Lütfü Barkan, “Kolonizator Türk Dervişleri”, VAKIFLAR DERGİSİ, II, 1942, pp. 279-365.

22. Cevdet Türkay, Başbakanlık Arşivi Belgelerine Göre Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Oymak, Aşiret ve Cemaatler, İstanbul, Tercüman Yayınları, 1979, p. 313.

23. Hasluck, ibid. vol: I, p. 338.

24. On this see, Sezai Öztürk’s mentioned thesis on Tunceli.

25. For this you can look at the basic religious texts of the Alevi faith, including the Buyruks of Şeyh Safi and İmam Cafer. Also see the relevant section in Abdulbaki Gölpınarlı, Tasavvuftan Dilimize Gecen Deyimler ve Atasözleri, İnkılap ve Aka Kitabevleri, İstanbul, 1977; and by the same author, “Kızılbaş” In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol. VI, p. 792. The title “dede” is also used by the Bektashi and the Mevlevi orders.

26. Mehmet Fuad Köprülü, “Anadolu’da İslamiyet…”, DARÜLFÜNUN EDEBİYAT FAKÜLTESİ MECMUASI, year: 2, no: 2, September 1st 1338, p. 287.

27. On these issues see the works of Ömer Lütfi Barkan, Fuad Köprülü and Ahmet Yaşar Ocak.

28. On this see, Abdulbaki Gölpınarlı, “Kızılbaş” In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol. VI, p. 792; Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Marjinal Sufilik: Kalenderiler, Ankara, TTK Publications, 1992, p. 102; Mehmet Yaman, Karaca Ahmet Sultan Hazretleri, third edition, İstanbul, 1989, p. 140.

29. On this see, Mirza Abbasli, “Safevilerin Kökenine DairBELLETEN, vol. XL, no: 158, April 1976, p. 304 and the rest.

30. According to some researchers, it is highly possible that there was a connection between the Alevi Ocaks and the cult of hearth common among the pre-Islamic Turks. More research is needed on this issue.

31. On the subject of Ocaks also see, Nejat Birdogan, “Anadolu Alevi Ocaklarinin Kurulusu, Islevleri, Yayılmalari”, IV. MİLLETLERARASI TÜRK HALK KÜLTÜRÜ KONGRESİ BİLDİRİLERİ, I.Cilt, Ankara, 1992, ss. 5-16.

32. The view that the Ocaks at the top of the hierarchy are the ones following the descendants of Imam Zeynel Abidin seems to be incorrect. This unsubstantiated thesis is put forward by Muharrem Naci Orhan, himself a Dede claiming to be a descendant of İmam Zeynel Abidin. Since all Dedes are descendants of the Prophet, such a distinction would have no basis. I believe, this claim cannot be accounted for in any way other than as an attempt on behalf of the claimant to assert his family’s superiority. For this view also see, Nejat Birdogan, Anadolu ve Balkanlarda Alevi Yerleşmesi Ocaklar-Dedeler-Soyağaçları, Alev Yayınları, İstanbul, 1992, p. 148; Muharrem Naci Orhan, “Politikacıların Alevi-Sünni Kışkırtmasının…”, TÜRK YURDU, no: 88, Aralık 1994, pp. 66-67.

33. On the subject of forced migrations in Anatolia, Prof. Barkan writes: “Among the deportations and settlements from Anatolia into Rumelia , more than the ones caused by the need to settle the newly conquered lands, we have to mention particularly those with a political motivation, which were carried out to rid of the country the evil of some heterodox elements in society who were feared for their potential to cause political and religious disturbances.” On this see, Ömer Lütfü Barkan, “Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Bir İskan ve kolonizasyon metodu olarak sürgünler”, İSTANBUL ÜNİVERSİTESİ İKTİSAT FAKÜLTESİ MECMUASI, vol. XV, 1953, no: 1-4, s. 228.

34. Abdulbaki Gölpınarlı, “Kızılbaş”, In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol. VI, pp. 794-795.

35. Gölpınarlı, ibid. pp. 790 and 794-795.

36. On this issue see, A. Yılmaz, Tahtacılarda Gelenekler, Ankara, 1948, p. 17; Neşet Çağatay, “Tahtacılar”, In İSLAM ANSİKLOPEDİSİ, vol. XI, p. 670.

37. On this see, Mehmet Yaman, ibid, pp. 135-143.

38. On the issue of the qualifications and functions of dedes, Peter J. Bumke gives valuable information. Bumke, ibid, pp. 18-21.

39. Officially today there is no province called Dersim. For centuries, Dersim maintained a kind of autonomy under the leadership of the tribal chiefs, and covers a region that includes the provinces of Erzincan, Tunceli and parts of Sivas. In 1937, the name of Dersim was changed to Tunceli.

40. Irene Melikoff, Uyur İdik Uyardılar, trans. By Turan Alptekin, İstanbul, 1993, p. 126.

41. Sefer Aytekin, Buyruk, Ankara, Emek Basım Yayım Evi, 1958, p. 141.

42. This and similar expressions are frequently encountered in the secere of the Ocak of Ali Abbas.

43. Yusuf Ziya, “Tahtacılar, Tahtacılarda Dini ve Sırri hayat’, DARÜLFÜNUN İLAHİYAT FAKÜLTESİ MECMUASI, year: 4, no: 15, May 1930, p. 75.

44. Also see, Öztürk, ibid, pp. 78-81. In the old days, marrying a Sünni [Yezide kuşak çözmek] was also accepted as an offense that led to the state of düşkün. See Alevi Buyruks.

45. What follows is based on my interviews with Dedes, as well as with the members of the Ocak of Hıdır Abdal, which is an Ocak of Düşküns.

46. The decline in the roles of Dedes became apparent towards the end of 1960s. On this see, Nur Yalman, “Islamic Reform and the mystic tradition in Eastern Turkey”, ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE, X, 1969, no:1, p. 55.

47. The same point is argued by Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, “Tarih Mitosu ve Kollektif Kimlik”, BİRİKİM, no: 88, August 1996, p. 54.

48. Öztürk, ibid, p. 43.

49. Naşit Uluğ, Tunceli Medeniyete Açılıyor, İstanbul, Cumhuriyet Matbaası, 1939; for a similar view see, Adnan Özberk, Dersim Yaylaların Delisi, İstanbul, Sinan Matbaasi, 1950.

50. For this report see, Açık-Gizli/Resmi-Gayrıresmi Kürdoloji Belgeleri, ed. by Mehmet Bayrak, Ankara, Öz-Ge Yayınları, 1994, pp. 298-299.

51. For more information on this subject see, Toktamış Ateş, Türk Devrim Tarihi, İstanbul, Der Yayınları, 1993, p. 374.

52. I was told by K.S., the daughter of dede now in her 70s, as well as by A.Z., a talip of 75 years of age, that they witnessed such harassment.

53.  Rıza Yetişen, “Naldöken Tahtacıları”, Türk Folklor Araştırmaları, no: 17, December 1950, p. 265.

54. İsmail Hakkı, Çepniler Balıkesir’de, Balıkesir, 1935, p. 28; Some scholars trace the beginning of this process to WWI; for this view see, Besim Atalay, Bektaşilik ve Edebiyatı, İstanbul, 1991, p. 37; Nermin Erdentuğ, Sün Köyü’nün Etnolojik Tetkiki, 2. Ed. Ankara, 1971, p. 51.

55. Peter Bumke, “The Kurdish Alevis-Boundaries and Perceptions” In ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY, ed. by Peter Alford Andrews, Wiesbaden, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1989, pp. 514-515.

56. But here our interest in the subject is limited to the extent it relates to Alevis.

57. Kehl-Bodrogi, ibid, p. 54.

58. On this see, David Shankland, “Alevi and Sunni in Rural Anatolia, Diverse Paths of Change”, In CULTURE AND ECONOMY CHANGES IN TURKISH VILLAGES, ed. by Paul Stirling, Eothen Press, England, 1993, p. 60.

59. For an account of this field work carried out in the Village of Sarılar in Gaziantep see, Thomas McElwain, “Ritual Change in a Turkish Alevi Village”, In THE PROBLEM OF RITUAL, ed. by Tore Ahlback, Finland, 1993, p. 131.

60. On this issue also see, Ali Yaman, “Dünden bugüne Kızılbaş-Alevi Dedeleri”, PERTEV NAİLİ BORATAV’A ARMAĞAN, edited by Metin Turan, Ankara, 1998, pp. 372-373; for a critical discussion see, Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan, “Hakullah”, KARACAN ARMAĞANI YARIŞMASI 1972, İstanbul, 1972, pp. 1-60.

61. For the whole text of this telegraph see, Tahir Erdoğan Şahin, Anadolu’nun Tarihi Akışı İçinde Erzincan Tarihi, c. II, Erzincan, 1987, p. 461.

62. For the whole text of this interesting letter see Unpublished written text of Nazmi Sevgen, Zazalar ve Kızılbaşlar, İstanbul, 1946, p. 179.

63. Ulusoy family is the most prominent example of this.

64. From my interviews with Gürgür Dede in the Library of the Convent of Şahkulu Sultan following a Cem ritual on March 9th 1997.

65. Gloria Lucille Clarke, “Bir Dedenin Kimliğinde Müziğin Yeri Ne Kadardır?” Seçkinlerin Müzik Eğitimi: Türkiye Alevilerinin Manevi Liderlerinin Yetişmesinde Müziğin Rolü, İstanbul, Mimar Sinan University, Department of Musicology, Unpublished Dissertation Thesis, 1998, p. 228.

66. Clarke confirms our view with the following data: “…But 36% of the community and 50% of the organizations and pious foundations don’t find the institution of dedes vital for the community…” Clarke, ibid. p. 230.

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