Present day Azerbaijan is known for such bright representatives of culture as Nizami Ganjevi (12th century) who influenced not only Azerbaijan literature but also other Oriental countries' literatures.
His most influential piece was “Pentateuch” ("Khamse") - five poems which differ in plot and composition but united by the author's common idea; Hatran Tebrezi (11th century) - panegyrist poet; Fizuli who wrote the legendary poem “Layli and Medzhnuh”.
The cultural life was bubbling in such cities as Ganja, Shamakhi, Tabriz . The feudal rulers' courts boasted their communities of poets, thinkers, philosophers, musicians.
Such lyric genres of poetry as rubai , kasyds , gazelles – works of poetry – were under development. The largest monument of medieval Azerbaijani literature is “Kitabi Dede Korkuhd ” epos where are mentioned various musical instruments and whole fragments connected with music which vividly describe the ancient history of Azerbaijani music.
Zerbaijani national musical art takes special pride in such original genres as folk songs, dances and Ashug s. Ashug repertoire consists of folk songs, dastans, “deiishme” songs-dialogues which in fact are musical-poetic contests among ashugs
Azerbaijani folklore is extensive and diverse in terms of genres . The heroic epos is represented by poems called dastans among which the most known and significant “Kyor-Ogly” ( Kyuroglu) epos is widespread in some nations of the Middle East and Central Asia .
The image of Kyoroglu symbolizes the national ideal of a just ruler, a fearless warrior tyrant-fighter.
Especially beautiful are romantic dastans “Asli and Kehrem”, “Ashig-Gahrib” . Besides distants Azerbaijani folklore is rich in such genres as songs (sung during work, ceremonies, and house chores doing), legends, fairy tales, jokes ( lyatifa) , proverbs, by-words, riddles.
All these pieces of folk art were created by ashug singers - wandering poets-storytellers, folk singers.
They wandered from town to town performing on main squares. They played string instruments and sang folk songs, or told eposes, poems, stories. Ashugs were a popular kind of entertainment for both commons and aristocrats.