This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Kurdish mythology" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (November 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Kurdish mythology is the collective term for the beliefs and practices of the culturally, ethnically or linguistically related group of ancient peoples who inhabited the Kurdistan mountains of northwestern Zagros, northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia. This includes their Indo-European pagan religion prior to them converting to Islam, as well the local myths, legends and folklore that they produced after becoming Muslims.

Legendary origin

Supernatural origin legend

A legend recorded by Judaic scholars claimed that the people of Corduene had supernatural origins, when King Solomon arranged the marriage of 500 women to jinns.[1][2][3][4][5] The same legend was also used by early Islamic authorities, in explaining the origins of the Kurds.[6][7][8]

In the writings of the 10th-century Arab historian Al-Masudi, the Kurds are described as the offspring of King Solomon’s concubines engendered by the demon Jasad.[6] On learning who they were, Solomon shall have exclaimed "Drive them (ukrudūhunna) in the mountains and valleys" which then suggests a negative connotation such as the "thrown away".[6] Another that they are the descendants of King Solomons's concubines and his angelical servants. These were sent to Europe to bring him "five-hundred beautiful maidens", for the king's harem. However, when these had done so and returned to Israel the king had already died. As such, the Djinn settled in the mountains, married the women themselves, and their offspring came to be known as the Kurds.[7][8]

Milan & Zilan Legend

The Milan tribe, together with the Zilan, are by many tribes considered to be their legendary parental tribe. According to Sykes, Ibrahim Pasha's own explanation was as follows: "Years and years ago the Kurds were divided into two branches, the Milan and Zilan; there were 1,200 tribes of the Milan, but God was displeased with them and they were scattered in all directions, some vanished, others remained; such as remained respect me as the head of the Milan."[9]

One variation adds a third branch, the Baba Kurdi. According to one version of the legend, the Milan settled in Dêrsim, but Sultan Selim ordered some to sedentarize and build houses, and others to nomadize southward.[10]

There's another version of the legend, as recounted by Celadet Bedirxan. In it, the ancestor of the Kurds was a man named ‘Kurd' living on the mountains, who died during heavy snow fall; only two of his sons survived, one was named Mil, the other Zil.[11]

A famous semi-historical Yezidi figure of Kurdish folklore, Derwêşê Evdî, was of the Şerqi tribe of the Milan.[12]

Decscandants of Kaveh's Army

Zahak, who is named Zuhak by the Kurds,[13] [14]was an evil Assyrian king who conquered Iran and had serpents growing from his shoulders.[15] Zahak's rule lasted for one thousand years; his evil reign caused spring to no longer come to Kurdistan.[13] During this time, two young men were sacrificed daily and their brains were offered to Zahak's serpents in order to alleviate his pain.[15] However, the man who was in charge of sacrificing the two young men every day would instead kill only one man a day and mix his brains with those of a sheep in order to save the other man. As discontent grew against Zahak's rule, the nobleman Fereydun planned a revolt.[16] The young men who had been saved from the fate of being sacrificed who were according to the legend were ancestors of the Kurds,[17][18][19] were trained by Kaveh into an army that marched to Zahak's castle where Kaveh killed the king with a hammer. Kaveh is said to have then set fire to the hillsides to celebrate the victory and summon his supporters; spring returned to Kurdistan the next day.[20][21][22]

Mythological figures

The Sasanian king Khosro II Parvez is highly esteemed in the Kurdish oral tradition, literature and mythology.[23]

Kaveh the blacksmith

Called Kawe-y asinger in Kurdish, some Kurds believe that the ancestors of the Kurds fled to the mountains to escape the oppression of an Assyrian king named Zahhak, who is later killed and overthrown at the hands of Kawe. It is also believed that these people, like Kawe the Blacksmith who took refuge in the mountains over the course of history, later they were called by the profession of their ancestor and created a Kurdish ethnicity. Kaveh is a geographical and symbolic figure in Kurdish nationalism. In common with other mythologies, Kurdish mythology sometimes is also used for political aims.[24][25][26]

Mythological creatures


Shahmaran (or Şahmaran) is a mythical creature in Kurdish Folklore, she's believed to be a human-snake hybrid that lived in a cave, and she was considered the wisdom goddess to protect secrets. It's also believed that when shahmaran dies her spirit passes to her daughter.[27][28]


Simurgh is shortened to "sīmir" in the Kurdish.[29] The scholar C. V. Trever quotes two Kurdish folktales about the bird.[29] These versions go back to the common stock of Iranian simorḡ stories.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Baron Patrick Balfour Kinross, Within the Taurus: a journey in Asiatic Turkey, 1970, 191 pages, see p. 89
  2. ^ George Smith, The Cornhill Magazine, Volume 167, 1954, sp. 228
  3. ^ Peter Schäfer, Catherine Hezser, The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture, Volume 3, Mohr Siebeck, 2002 – 486 pages, s p. 80
  4. ^ Adolf Büchler, Studies in Jewish history, Oxford University Press, 1956, 279 pages, s p. 84
  5. ^ Israel Abrahams, Adolf Büchler, The Foundations of Jewish life: three studies, Arno Press, 1973, 512 pages, s p. 84
  6. ^ a b c James, Boris (September 2014). "Arab Ethnonyms ('Ajam, 'Arab, Badū and Turk): The Kurdish Case as a Paradigm for Thinking about Differences in the Middle Ages". Iranian Studies. 47 (5): 685. doi:10.1080/00210862.2014.934149. ISSN 0021-0862. S2CID 143606283.
  7. ^ a b Kahn, M. (1980). Children of the Jinn: in Search of the Kurds and their Country. Michigan: Seaview Books, pp. xi
  8. ^ a b Zorab Aloian. "The Kurds in Ottoman Hungary". Transoxiana: Journal Libre de Estudios Orientales. Buenos Aires: Universidad del Salvador. December 9, 2004
  9. ^ Sykes, Mark. "The kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire," The Journal of the england Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, no. 37 (2008): 537-564.
  10. ^ Sykes, Mark. "The Kurdish Tribes of the Ottoman Empire," The Journal of the england Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, no. 37 (2008): 537-564.
  11. ^ Jason james, "turks in history ," ata turk, sumer 2008, 23: 23-27
  12. ^ Filiz, Mehmet Ş. "Xebatek li ser Destana Dewrêşê Evdî." Thesis, Mardin Artuklu University, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Murphy, Dan (2004-03-24). "For Kurds, a day of bonfires, legends, and independence". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-03-08.
  14. ^ Kurdish Institute of Paris (March 2001). "Newroz 2001: In Diyarbekir the celebrations brought together 500,000 people in a calm atmosphere, but there were many incidents in Istanbul". Retrieved 2007-03-13.
  15. ^ a b Warner, Marina; Fernández-Armesto, Felipe (2004). World of Myths: Roman Myths. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70607-3.
  16. ^ In some of the present Kurdish versions of the story of Zahak and Kawa, there is no mention of Fereydun. van Bruinessen, Vol. 3, pp. 1–11, 2000. In the Ahl-e Haqq (Yarsan) Kurdish tradition, Kawa rebelled against Zahak and helped Fereydun imprison Zahak inside Mount Damavand. Hajj Nematollah, Shah-Nama-Ye Haqiqat, Intishaaraat Jeyhun (1982).
  17. ^ al-Dinawari, Ahmad b. Dawud. Kitab al-akhbar al-tiwal. Edited by V.Guirgass. Leiden. 1888, see p. 7
  18. ^ Hakan Ozoglu, Kurdish notables and the Ottoman State, 2004, SUNY Press, page: 30. ISBN 0-7914-5993-4
  19. ^ 05001 Zahak Archived 2007-03-06 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ John Bulloch, Harvey Morris (1993), No Friends but the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds, p. 50
  21. ^ O'SHEA M. T. Between the map and the reality : some fundamental myths of Kurdish nationalism. Archived from the original on 2018-11-21. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  22. ^ RÖ DÖNMEZ (2012). "CONSTRUCTING KURDISH NATIONALIST IDENTITY THROUGH LYRICAL NARRATIVES IN POPULAR MUSIC" (PDF). Alternative Politics. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 12, 2014. The narrative is based on Kurdish mythology for political targets and the aesthetics of territory
  23. ^ "Kurdish Library - Kurdish Museum". Summer 1991. pp. 117–123.
  24. ^ Harvey Morris, John Bulloch (1993). No Friends but the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds. penguins. pp. Page = 50. ISBN 0195080750.
  25. ^ Dönmez, Rasim Özgür (November 2012). "Constructing kurdish nationalist identity through lyrical narratives in popular music" (PDF). Alternative Politics. 4: Page = 318–341.
  26. ^ M.T., O'shea (1994). "Between the map and the reality: some fundamental myths of kurdish nationalism". Peuples Mediterraneens: Page = 165–183.
  27. ^ Nakamura, Toru (2019). Snakes, Birds and Dreams. Dorrance Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9781480991132.
  28. ^ Emmanuel, Raphael (1944). The Ring of Shah Maran, a Story from the Mountains of Kurdistan. the University of Michigan.
  29. ^ a b c Schmidt, Hanns-Peter (2002). "Simorg". Encyclopedia Iranica. Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub.