The Dresden manuscript Kitab-i Dedem Korkut - Mscr.Dresd.Ea.86 from the 16th century, written in Arabic script with red awards, is the only completely preserved text witness of the national epic of the Turkic-speaking nomadic people of the Oghuz, the ancestors of Turks, Azerbaijanis and Turkmen. A second manuscript in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vat.turc.102, pp. 58v - 106), also dating from the 16th century, has only half of the text preserved.
The author and bard Dede Korkut tells twelve stories of Oghuz heroes, customs and warlike conflicts, whose oral tradition goes back to the first millennium n. Chr. goes back to the first millennium AD. The manuscript can be found for the first time in a catalogue of the Electoral Library in Dresden, which was compiled around 1754.
UNESCO declared 1999 the "Dede-Korkut-Year". In 1999, UNESCO invited guests from Azerbaijan and other Turkic-speaking countries to Dresden to celebrate the manuscript. The modern leather binding is a guest gift from the year 2004.
In 2015 the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first German partial translation of Dede Korkut by the Orientalist Heinrich Friedrich von Diez (1751-1817) after a copy of the Dresden original, which is kept in the Berlin State Library today was celebrated. On this occasion, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev proclaimed 2015 the Year of Dede Korkut.
In 2018 the Dede Korkut was included in the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" by the UNESCO World Heritage Commission.
See the complete Kitab-i Dedem Korkut manuscript in our Digital Collections The original cannot be shown for conservation reasons. By prior appointment, an exclusive reprint can be consulted in the Collections Reading Room.