Dengbêj is a Kurdish music genre and/or a singer of the music genre Dengbêj. Dengbêjs are singing storytellers. There have been many terms to describe Dengbêjs throughout history, but today Dengbêj is the best known, and also several singing storytellers use Dengbêj as part of their own (artistic) name.[1] Dengbêjs are viewed as a way to transmit the traditions of their Kurdish ancestors in times as it was not possible to publish in Kurdish or about Kurdish history.[2] Since there don't exist many documents about certain Kurdish events, today there exist attempts to analyze them through the songs of the Dengbêjs.[3] They sing about Kurdish geography,[4] history, recent events, but also lullabies and love songs.[5]

Dengbêj performing


Roger Lescot has performed a study through a large amount of Dengbêjs during the French Mandate in Syria and Lebanon.[2] In the 1930s the Turkish Government implemented fines on every word that was spoken in Kurdish, putting the tradition of Dengbêjs singing in danger and almost became extinct in Turkish Kurdistan.[2] In the 1980s the Dengbêjs were persecuted for singing in Kurdish, as it was forbidden in Turkey to sing in Kurdish language.[6] At that time Dengebêjs were recorded clandestinely on cassette tapes and distributed.[7]

In 1991, the Turkish president Turgut Özal announced that the use of the Kurdish language became legal except for broadcasts, publications, education and in politics.[8] The Dengbêjs were again able to perform with more freedom. From 1994 onward, the Dengbêjs were supported by Kurdish politicians to attend festivals and TV shows outside of Turkey and from the 2000s also within Turkey. Dengbêj music became politicized and as a sign of Kurdishness, which was confronted by Turkish nationalism.[9]

The Kilam is a specialty of the Dengbêjs, where they just let out spontaneously what moves them, and do not even pause after the end of a phrase.[10] The style of a stran is melodic and rhythmic, popular and love songs sung at weddings are sung in the stran style.[10] They sing mostly without instruments accompanying them.[11] Traditionally Dengbêjs need to learn ancient Dengbêj songs before performing their own songs.[12]

In 2003 the first Mala Dengbêjan (Dengbêj House in Kurdish) was in inaugurated in Van, Turkey.[13] In May 2007 the Democratic Society Party (DTP) led Municipality of Diyarbakır[2] supported the establishment of the Mala Dengbêjan in Diyarbakır.[14] In several other cities, Dengbêj houses were founded as well.[13] The revitalization of the Dengbej tradition was supported by the European Union.[2]

Well-known Dengbêjs include Karapetê Xaço, Evdalê Zeynikî and[15] Şakîro.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kardaş, Canser (2019-02-05). Ulaş, Özdemir; Hamelink, Wendelmoet; Greve, Martin (eds.). Diversity and Contact among Singer-Poet Traditions in Eastern Anatolia. Ergon Verlag. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-3-95650-481-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e Scalbert-Yücel, Clémence (2009-12-29). "The Invention of a Tradition: Diyarbakır's Dengbêj Project". European Journal of Turkish Studies. Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey (in French) (10). doi:10.4000/ejts.4055. ISSN 1773-0546.
  3. ^ Kardas, Canser (2019-02-05). Ulas, Özdemir; Hamelink, Wendelmoet; Greve, Martin (eds.). Diversity and Contact among Singer-Poet Traditions in Eastern Anatolia. Ergon Verlag. p. 39. ISBN 978-3-95650-481-5.
  4. ^ Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), p. 110-112
  5. ^ Hamelink, Wendelmoet (2016). The Sung Home. Narrative, Morality, and the Kurdish Nation. Leiden: BRILL. pp. 381–395. ISBN 978-90-04-31482-5.
  6. ^ Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), pp. 211-212
  7. ^ Christie-Miller, Alexander (30 March 2012). "Turkey: Preserving Kurdish Culture Through the Power of Music | Eurasianet". eurasianet. Retrieved 2021-04-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Romano, David; Romano, Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics David (2006). The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780521850414.
  9. ^ Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), pp. 287-288
  10. ^ a b Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), p. 58
  11. ^ Özdemir, Ulaş; Hamelink, Wendelmoet; Greve, Martin (2019-02-05). Diversity and Contact among Singer-Poet Traditions in Eastern Anatolia. Ergon Verlag. p. 41. ISBN 978-3-95650-481-5.
  12. ^ Hamelink, Özdemir, (2019), p. 42
  13. ^ a b Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), p. 307
  14. ^ Greve, Martin (2018-01-12). Makamsiz: Individualization of Traditional Music on the Eve of Kemalist Turkey. Ergon Verlag. p. 156. ISBN 978-3-95650-371-9.
  15. ^ Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), p. 209
  16. ^ Wendelmoet Hamelink, (2016), p. 210