We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Azerbaijan: Literature and Music
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Language, Religion, and Culture > The Arts > Literature and Music


Before the eleventh century, literary influences included the Zoroastrian sacred text Avesta, Turkish prose-poetry, and oral history recitations (called dastans), such as The Book of Dede Korkut and Koroglu, which contain preIslamic elements. Among the classics of medieval times are the Astronomy of Abul Hasan Shirvani (written in the eleventh or twelfth century) and Khamseh, a collection of five long romantic poems written in Persian by the twelfth-century poet Nezami Ganjavi. Fuzuli (1494-1556) wrote poetry and prose in Turkish, most notably the poem Laila and Majnun, the satire A Book of Complaints, and the treatise To the Heights of Conviction. Fuzuli's works influenced dramatic and operatic productions in the early twentieth century. Shah Ismail I, who was also the first Safavid shah, wrote court poems in Turkish. Fuzuli and Ismail are still read in their original Turkish dialects, which are very similar to the modern literary Azerbaijani.

In music an ancient tradition was carried into modern times by ashugs, poet-singers who presented ancient songs or verses or improvised new ones, accompanied by a stringed instrument called the kobuz. Another early musical form was the mugam, a composition of alternating vocal and instrumental segments most strongly associated with the ancient town of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Data as of March 1994

Last Updated: March 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Azerbaijan was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Azerbaijan Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 36 of 82


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(ман) (AZN)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map