“Wexta li ezmanên huneri mêze diki tu dibini sterkên hunera kurdi, xwesiktrin u rindirin hestêrkin li ezman, Yek ji wan hestêran tim u tim dibiriqi, ew hestêreka ron u ges hunermenda hêja u nemir Eyse Sane...”
Considered as one of the most legendary female singers in the history of Kurdish music, Eyse San (english spelling: Aysha Shan) was born in 1938 to a large and well-known family from the great city of Amed (Diyarbakir) in Northern Kurdistan. Eyse San was the daughter of Heciya Xanim and Osman from the large tribe of Cibriyan. Eyse San’s father, Osman, was a very popular traditional singer and her love for singing was mostly influenced by him as well as many other traditional Kurdish singers from all corners of Kurdistan. Heciya Xanim, Eyse San’s mother, often sang lullabies to her beloved daughter and stirred up all the passion and devotion that Eyse San had developed for singing.
While growing up, Eyse San often found herself along with her sisters behind the doors and walls of the gathering room listening to her father and his fellow friends singing the night away. She paid great attention to their songs, and as their voices would echo through the walls, Eyse San would enter a world of fantasy over and over again. Her father, as well as many other traditional Kurdish singers, were a school of knowledge and inspiration for Eyse San. Regarding these memories, Eyse said:
“ I wish the doors and walls of my father’s house could speak so they could tell you about all those days and nights, I always say with grief I wish my fathers walls could speak and recite the stories of those nights my father and the rest his friends spend at our house. I would listen to them from the corners of the walls. I listened so carefully that if someone were to call me, I would be startled. My dad’s delicate and sorrowful voice had a huge impact on me. Years past but his voice never left me.”
In 1958, the young and precious Kurdish woman, Eyse San, began singing at many gatherings. Eyse San, with her beautiful Kurdish clothes and her most delightful voice, started entering people’s hearts and many grew fond of her pure and beautiful voice.
In the beginning, Eyse San’s father and brothers were not too happy about her singing in public. They tried to pull her away from the music world that she so passionately wanted to become a part of. She used all her might and power to follow her passionate dream and was determined to sing no matter what the cause. Her innocent determination had her face the hardest challenge in life, which was when the most special people in her heart became distant to her. At the age of 20, with the will of her father, Eyse San married a young Kurd named Sewket Turan, and they soon had a baby girl together. However, her marriage with Sewket Turan did not work out and she later moved to a city, known as Entabe, leaving her three-month-old baby girl and all of her closest family and friends. The distance between her and her loved ones had great effect on her life. In Entabe she tried to maintain a living on her own by sewing clothes. Meanwhile, with the help of a man named Nail Baysu, she sang in Turkish for the Entabe radio for two years. However, she was not too happy because her true passion was for Kurdish music.
Eyse San left the Entabe radio station and moved to Istanbul, and for the first time in her life, she recorded music in Kurdish. Unfortunately, the record label she was signed to took all the rights to her work away from her and sold her music with no benefits and proceeds for Eyse. With her sweet voice, she could have managed to become very stable financially but signed to a bad contract, the record company took her rights and sold her music while Eyse San remained poor and alone. For years, they abused her rights, which resulted in many rough times for Eyse San.
Nonetheless, she did not give up her love for Kurdish music and she continued to express her sorrow and troubled life through her music.
With the help of classical songs that she learned from her father, she maintained to go through some the most harsh times of her life. Eyse San also created many original songs expressing her thoughts about her life and her rights as a person in this world. Among those were Derdê Hewiyê (The pain of a co-wife) or Qederê Yar (The fate of a lover), all of which were about her rights as a woman, as well as many other Kurdish women in similar situations. Another very well known song by Eyse San that has touched the lives of many is Xerîbim Daye (I am alone Mother). Eyse sang the song, Xerîbim Daye, as a dedication to her mother, whom before her death had requested from her sons to see her beloved Eyse San. Unfortunately, they never allowed Eyse San to return back home and their mothers wish was never granted.
Eyse San always had great love for Kurdistan and Kurdish music and because of that, she accepted to go through all the hardships in her life because she was determined to follow her dreams of singing in Kurdish. Eyse San paid great tribute to her much-loved Kurdistan by singing about the political situations of the Kurds, as well as many problems in the world.
The important thing to consider is that in a time of such oppression, Eyse San worked hard for the Kurdish cause as well as well as the rights of Kurdish women by playing an active role as a singer. She sang proudly about her country and her people and she was never scared of being punished for it. Although many tried to make things hard for her,
she promised herself that no matter what the circumstances were, she would dedicate her life and her voice to the Kurdish cause and let the world know about her struggles through her heavenly voice and her magical words. She kept her promise, and put at ease, the hearts of her people with her music.
In 1972, Eyse San moved to Munsen, Germany. In Germany, her precious daughter Shahnaz whom Eyse San loved more than anyone in the world passed away. The death of Shahnaz caused Eyse to stop singing for several years because her mind was occupied by the grief and sorrow that she felt for losing her daughter. It was not long after her daughter's death that she returned to beautiful Kurdistan.
In 1979, the Eyse San who always dreamed of some day seeing the mountains of Southern Kurdistan paid a visit to the Kurds of the southern cities. She was greeted with warm welcomes from Kurds who lived there. She had managed to meet with many of the other legendary Kurdish singers such as Mihemed Arif Cizîrî, Îsa Berwarî, Gulbihar, Tehsîn Teha, Nesrîn Serwan and many more. Together, they performed at many concerts and parties. When Eyse San returned to Turkey, she was threatened by the government. In regards to this, the legendary Eyse San says,
“ When I returned to Turkey, they captured me and expressed their hatred. I said I wish I hadn’t visited Kurdistan and I became regretful, they told me you are fighting for the Kurdish cause…”
However, she could never forget the warm welcome and the praises she got from her own people in Kurdistan. For the first time, she truly felt that all of the suffering that she went through was worthwhile. She planted seeds in the hearts of Kurds and their love for her and her music grew stronger everyday.
Eyse San had a great connection with Kurds all over Kurdistan. In 1979 and years to follow, Eyse San was not as active in her singing career as she had been before. In order to maintain a living, she worked in a local post office in the city of Izmîre. Following the year, 1991, many Kurds of Southern Kurdistan left their towns and villages and moved to the cities of Northern Kurdistan. Around this time, Eyse San dedicated a cassette to those who liked her music. She had broken her own long record of not singing to the public. With her words and voice, she awakened the Kurds of Northern Kurdistan to help those who had recently relocated to cities nearby.
Remembering Eyse San
Eyse San did not get the true praising she deserved while she was alive. Time after time, she was sad and lonely. Sad that she and all the people of Kurdistan were alone in this world, and lonely that she was alone and without her family in her own land. She longed to see her sisters and brothers whenever she wished.
Eyse San was a true Kurdish spirit who went through every difficult circumstance one can imagine, but she was determined and passionate about her singing. And by listening to her music and her delicate voice, it is how her spirit will remain in our hearts and minds forever and always.
Source: Kurdish Media
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