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Friday, October 9, 2015

Yezidis : Followers of the Peacock God

The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and ReligionThe Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion by Birgül Açikyildiz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before a year a couple of years ago many people had never heard of the Yezidi, now people know of them because they were victimized by the radical group, ISIS.  Now they have been driven from their homelands and their women and you g girls have been sold into white slavery . Most people do not know anything more about these people . Which makes this book great because it discusses their origins, history, religious observances, societal structure and material culture. In the introduction this Kurdish woman from Turkey discusses the challenges of traveling to the different areas where the Yezidis live.

Those with a slight familiarity with the Middle East know that many people have mistakenly called the Yezidis devil worshippers. The peacock has been conflated with the devil. It was the peacock that lead Iblis  into paradise so he could deceive Adam and Eve.
In Zoroastrian mythos the wicked god Angra Mainyu made a peacock to display that he could make something good. The peacock is also a metaphor for Satan, decked out in colorful attire yet his feet are totally ugly. The peacock has even more meaning . The peacock was also a symbol for Tammuz , the Greenman of Mesopotamia.

According to Yezidi mythos. God created created the world as as giant pearl and then place it on the back of a bird that he created called Anfar. Later he sent the Melek Taws and the heptad of angels to break the earth apart and make it come to life. According to one legend of the Yezidi Melek Taws was the head angel, like Lucifer and since he refused to bow to man God chose him to lead the planet Earth. According to another legend Melek Taws rebelled against the creation of man but then later repented and god accepted his repentance.

The first records of Yezidism are in the twelfth century ad when a sufi mystic from Baghdad went to the Kurdish Mountains to lead a contemplative life. Sheik Adi came with his follwers andf lived among the Kurds of Lalish where he built his sanctuary. They combined with the Shamsanis who practiced and Ancient Iranian religion. This syncretism gave rise to Yezidism. It should be noted that there were Sufi mystics who revered Iblis. After all he was a true monotheist who refused to bow to anyone but god. The style of building sanctuaries was modelled after an opponent of Sheik Adi, a man named Lulu. He is known for building mosques with an umbrella shaped crenelated dome that was used through out Shia Islam. Lulu was in fact a former Armenian slave who convertted to Shiite Islam. The style of building was taken from the building style of central asia. Armenians churches are much like Yezidi shrines. Basicallyh they got it from the Armenians.  The sanctuary at Lalish, was thought to have been a Nestorian or Assyrian church until Sheik Adi took it over.

The Yesidis used to be bas weed in the cities of Lalish, Sinjar and Sheikhan. But since the 15th century they were persecuted and divided often times siding with the Turks, Iranians or Arabs against their enemies.  THe Baathist in modern times destroyed their town and some of  their shrines. THe Yezidis were also persecuted  along with the Armenians and Assyrians and are now spread out all over the world. MAny are in Syria, Armenia, Iraq andn  Turkey.THeir culture is in danger of being wiped out by ISIS fundamentalist and by the challenges of modern society where many Yezidi have fled to.

This review is far from complete there is a lot more information. I advise  you to read this book as you will find it informative. THe chapter on their material culture was rather long and painful  but other than that good read.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.