Kurdish identity

Kurds are definitively interesting people. They are the largest national group in the world without sovereignty over a recognized state. Still they are divided not just among countries, mainly Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, but also among themselves. It took a while for me to understand that Kurmanji and Soranî are not to be confused: they speak different languages, dress up with peculiar traditional cloths and often look ones at the others with some diffidence.

There is no religious identity either, holding among Kurds. Yes, some of them are believers of Islam, however there are Christians as well as Jewish Kurdish communities. And it is not all: Zoroastrians and Yazidis profess some of the most interesting religious beliefs human beings have developed.

Parceled identities

I have witnessed Kurds discussing about being from a city with a better reputation than another. And the name of the clan is considered a proof of value kept in great consideration among them.

This specific focus on parceled identities in a common strong — and well defended — identity sounds always so interesting, to me. I grew up with the persistent idea that national identity has no actual importance, nor meaning. A price I pay for being born in an occupied city, with a name imposed by the invader, and no clear idea on what I am. I have often entertained friends and acquaintances describing my ethnic heritage: 12.5% of this, 25% of that, and so on.

Land and identity

So it is kind of curios to talk to someone who may trace back their clan heritage to many generations. And to think about the ironic fate of me having a land, but not an identity, and them having an identity but not a land.

An heroic Kurdish girl

Fadime Sahindal was an heroic Kurdish girl, who lived in Sweden. Fadime fought for her freedom, love and life. Take a minute to read about her life, and dramatic murder: https://theincredibletide.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/in-honor-of-fadime/

Female fighters of Kurdistan

A photo gallery and a documentary on women guerrilla soldiers in Kurdistan:  http://wp.me/p1YzuE-1ex

Updates. About these pictures.

2012 07 26, 8:00 am

I have received some feedback from two readers, both suggesting that these pictures are actually not portraying Kurdish girls. And eventually indicating that “their mannerism and clothing look much closer to Indian western tribes” than to Kurdish traditional cloths.

Considering that both readers have a much deeper knowledge of Kurdish and Indian cultures than I have, I should apologize for the erroneous attribution of these pictures. I have collected them in two Russian blogs, where they were referred to “курдские женщины в национальной одежде” (Kurdish women in national dress). Now, running a search on Google Image, I could not identify any other source for these images. I will search more, and eventually update the information.

Any comment is welcome (here or on Facebook)!

2012 07 26, 10:40 pm

I got it! It took a while, and a new functionality of Google (drop a picture in the search bar, and get results for that image!) — So, the pictures in this post were actually taken by a Hong Kong-born, California-based photographer named James Giovanni Pan. The girls in the photos are American models, and it is possible to see more on James Facebook page. If I understand it well, it seems that James Pan favorite subjects are cosplayers.

So, not Kurdish girls. Still beautiful pictures!

44 responses to “Kurdish identity

    • Hi,
      thank you for your comment. Yes, indeed those are not Kurdish girls. As you may read at the bottom of the post (Updated 2012 07 26, 10:40 pm) where I have discussed this fact (thanks to some Kurdish and Indian friends who wrote me!). Still, these are beautiful pictures! For more information check the links I have posted above!

    • Why should I delete these pictures? I think the photographer and the models did a very good job. If you own the copyright of these pictures, and therefore are asking their removal, please send me an email with the link in “disclaimer and contact form”

      • Yes,those photos are very beautiful but at least you can share them in another topic.Because the girls are not Kurdish and the clothes are not Kurdish clothes.So why do you share them in a Kurdish topic?These article is about Kurds,so the photos should be about Kurds.Am I wrong?

        • In principle, I guess you are right. However, when I wrote this post I was under the (false) impression that those pics were actually portraying Kurdish girls in Kurdish cloths. As soon as I have been informed by some readers, as you nicely did, that those images are not belonging to the Kurdish culture and identity, I updated the post to inform other (unaware) readers. I think I have been honest, there.

          Now, I do not plan to modify this post (written before the summer). Maybe I will write one day something else about Kurds, and I will be more careful in choosing the pictures. — Even though it seems very difficult to find nice high quality pictures of Kurdish girls in traditional cloths.

          On the other hand, I like this misrepresentation/misunderstanding of identities: it fits my message. What is identity? What is a Kurd? Is it a piece of fabric? May you read Kurdishness in the eyes? Or maybe in the DNA? Or is it just culture? And which culture? Kurds themselves are very protective toward the outside world, but really divided among themselves.

          So these pictures are actually a good metaphoric image of my thoughts.

          • Kurds have an extremely specific style of dress which is very easy to find on the internet. To Kurds, these pictures–especially the mock facial tattoos–are in the style of “corbati” (arab gypsies). The Kurds have spent a century defining themselves as a distinct identity–which they are. That is why it is offensive to Kurds to be mislabled. Kurds are obsessed with their distinct ethnic identity. Kurds are not protective of their culture–they are denied expression of their culture. That is why intentionally leaving these pictures with an inaccurate label is a slap in the face to Kurds. With all due respect, a sensitive person would relabel them rather than try to “preach to the choir” about what it means to be a member of an ethnic group that is heavily repressed linguistically, and culturally–and denied its own ethnic identity in its traditional home territory. AUTHENTIC IDENTITY IS EVERYTHING TO A KURD.

          • I understand how identity is important for you, and I have apologized several times if I have offended someone sensibility. I have several Kurdish friends, and I feel a profound respect for their history.
            I make clear in the text of this post that these pictures do not represent Kurdish traditional cloths. These same pictures are everywhere in the Internet labelled as “kurdish girls” — My post is the only place in all the Internet where you can actually read that these pictures represent American models, portrayed by Hong Kong-born, California-based photographer named James Giovanni Pan. If I remove this post, no one will ever know the truth. I am the only source of information about these pictures. Hence, I consider appropriate keeping them.

  1. Most of people does not write messages,,etc.They just look the pictures.So according to me,you should delete them and share in an other topic except Kurds but you do not want it.It is your choise and there is nothing to do.
    Regards…

    • 🙂
      I think that there are similarities between Kurds and West Indian tribes. Have you ever heard about Baloch people? They live in Pakistan, and fight since many years for independence.

      • The Baloch people originate in Syria. These pictures could not look less Kurdish. Shinji you say you are interested in cultural representation, but seem to be very disrespectful to those cultures. That is a very mocking attitude. Azra has apparently not seen very many Kurds in real life.

        • Dear Anne, people who personally know me, would tell you how a respectful person I am. This is why I am sorry to read that you are under a different impression. I hope you would take the time to read all the text of my post with your eyes and heart open to understand what I try to communicate. My words are of great respect for Kurds, having many dear Kurdish friends. Moreover, I made clear that these pictures are not representing Kurdish

  2. It’s ironic how u claim to have been born in an “occupied city, with a name imposed by the invader” , but yet you can’t differentiate kurds and kurdish clothes from others. And many of those city names are ancient, came from natives and not the invaders.

    • What is interesting, for me, it is how it is impossible to find some nice (professional) pictures of Kurdish girls in traditional cloths! I wonder if it has something to do with Islam (even though many Kurds are not Muslims) or with the traditional jeaulosy of Kurds for their women!

      However, if you have any good link to photos of Kurdish girls, I’ll be happy to post them!

  3. I find it interesting how you keep saying you can’t find professional pics online. Have you looked at Kurdish modern fashion or just look up Kurdish clothes. This is so far out from Kurdish clothes that anyone wearing these would probably be put into a mental institution in my country. Just stupid, it should be deleted because it portrays a false view of Kurds. And we don’t like that. I hate it with a passion when people mix up my identity. I fight for that identity. It is a sensative issue. It pisses me off

    • Sara, I understand that you feel strongly your identity. And believe me, I have many Kurdish friends — so I have an idea of what you are saying. Still, I made quite clear, if you read all the post, that those pictures are not portraying Kurdish girls. Not sure how to make you happy.

      • Please, provide me some link with professional pictures of Kurdish girls in traditional cloths. I would love to post them. Send me the link via the form in “disclaimer & contact form”.

  4. You know Arabs kill us and Turks and irani kill us. They want to say we are not Kurdish and we are them. Seems like the image for the rest of the world is there. I swear those nasty Arabs. But you promote it saying it fits the portrayal who are the Kurds. They are not Arab!!!

    • Sara, I have recently published a post addressing the fights between Kurds and their neighbors. You may read it here: https://theincredibletide.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/female-fighters-of-kurdistan/

      Another interesting post is here (https://theincredibletide.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/in-honor-of-fadime/), and it is about a Kurdish hero: Fadime Sahindal. A girl who got killed by her own family. If you want to read more on Fadime, Pela, Sara and other Kurdish girls whose first enemy was their own family and culture, I suggest you to contact the Swedish national association against honor related violence: http://gapf.se/en/

      • Honor killing is not a kurdish tradition, but an islamic one. It also has nothing to do with what Sara was writing.

          • I mean that arabs, Turks and Iranis and even Syrians kill kurds for celebrating newroz, for claiming themselves to be Kurdish, for listening to Kurdish music, for wearing Kurdish clothes, for speaking Kurdish. for being Kurdish, for living in Kurdistan. Back in the 1920-2000 it was written in black and white. but even now they still get killed, under the guise of terrorism and secret police as ordered by the government of the respective countries. it is not just a question of life. Kurdish people deserve the right to live with honor and dignity of their own culture and they deserve their freedom. because of the their fighting for it (over 90 years to present) and also because they are good people. They deserve to be free. The reason the neighbors became countries is because of their support and slavery to imperialism. They had no honor or dignity. The only arabs who supported freedom and who supported the kurds against foreign invasion were the educated and they got killed by their own dictators. The goal, the main agenda of these countries is to wipe out the Kurdish identity. It would be possible if the country was smaller, but Kurdish people number more than 30 million in that region alone. It’s ok that you leave this be, I think it serves the purpose of understand the Kurdish mentality and understanding the Kurdish oppression and strife. so much violence. It will never be solved because Kurds will never allow themselves to be assimilated,. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgEKR03hkAM&list=FLIZ-2cwwPVTBhfgkl-yhaAg&index=49

  5. BTW your own disclaimer includes the following “Anyone feeling misrepresented, offended or legally entitled to ask the correction, integration, amendment and/or removal of some and any text, image, video or any other content published in this blog, may address the author and will also receive full consideration”. Pretty poor resolution of a valid complaint by legitimate complainers–BOO

    • Dear Anne, I feel I gave (and keep giving) complete attention to your comments, and to the comments of other readers. I have amended the text of this post, apologizing for the erroneous identification with Kurdish traditional cloths, explaining that those are American model cosplayers, and crediting the author.
      I am open to integrate the text of the post with further indications and details, if necessary.
      I will remove these pictures if you may prove to be the copyright owner, or one of the models in these photos.
      This blog is the only place in the Internet, as far as I know, where it is made clear that those are not Kurdish girls.
      Please feel free to contact me if you have any other question.

  6. This is not about having a beautiful pictures !!! These are not kurdish clothes so please delet them … I’m a Kurdish girl and I’m kinda offended

    • Dear Hivi,
      thank you for your comment. You, and others, asked to remove these photos. I have thought about it, eventually I decided not to. For these three reasons:
      1) I do not like the practice of publishing something, than removing it, as to hide my error. I humbly admitted my mistake, and I updated this post with the correct information. I feel it is a more honest approach toward my readers.
      2) On the internet, there are some other posts where these photos are referred to as “kurdish girls”. This is the only place where you can actually learn that they are not. So, I believe it is useful to keep it.
      3) This post, as many on my blog, try to raise a discussion — sometimes in a controversial way. Even though it was involuntary, now these wrong photos serve at the scope. Yes, indeed, because I am talking about “what is identity”. If you think about it, these wrong photos once again address the identity issue.

      I hope you will understand my motivations. I would also happy to read what you think about what I discuss in the post!

      Regards,
      Shinji

  7. i don’t no who u r but u have no idea what u r talking about. please delete this post. get your facts right first. why would u put photos of Indian clothe when you r talking about kurds? r u trying to make kurds look bad because thats what it sounds like. everything u talk about is wrong

    • I am sorry to read that you could not understand the meaning of this post. One thing I want to make clear, though: I love Kurdish people. And I would never do something to put them in a bad light. Nor I would do it for anyone else in this world. Love and Peace!

  8. Neither the models nor the clothes are Kurdish. Despite that, when I write “Kurdish girls” on google, these photos that you added come first! It is PRETTY MISLEADING. You have many comments about it bu you STILL don’t want to delete them! Please delete them, otherwise I am going to complain you.

    • Dear,
      the post is about identity. And somehow, keeping these images linked to such strong identity as the Kurdish one makes a good provocative contrast. If you read and understand my post, you will probably understand these photos too. Unfortunately, when you google “kurdish girls” you get also images of “honor killings” of young Kurdish girls. I think you would devote better your energies fighting THAT image of Kurdish girls, rather than my innocent misleading photos.

      • Dear Shinji
        Don’t listen to those who have no idea about what they are talking about. please do your research and if you need any help you can contact me or visit my page on fb under “Kurdistan Life” you will find more about Kurdish history.
        for the other dudes…. those pictures if the models are not Kurdish the style and the accessories are Kurdish. if you think you know something about Indians and Kurdish or any ME ethnogroups you need to rethink about your knowledge

  9. these pictures are not kurdish! !!!!!!😮😠😠😠😠
    please change them or
    move them

    • Thank you for your comment. We are aware of this, as discussed in previous comments. The post is about identity — so it makes somehow sense, to mixed it up.

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