Libmonster ID: U.S.-1533

Publications in Russian devoted to Yezidism can be counted on one's fingers. The last work in this field was a detailed review (in fact, an article) by A. A. Semenov, which included translation and commentary of two key sacred Yezidi texts -the Book of Revelation (Kitab-e jilve) and the Black Book (Maskhaf-e Rash) [Semenov, 1927]. In Rashad Sabri Rashid's ethnographic monograph on the Kurds, a chapter is devoted to the Yezidis (Rashad Sabri Rashid, 2003). However, attempts to fully investigate Yezidism in Russia have not yet been made, which cannot be said for Western studies (for new works, see the monographs [Allison, 2001; Kreyenbroek, 1995], which consider both the history of Yezidism and its current state).

The reviewed monograph is intended to fill the annoying gap that has formed in Russian yezidology. The book consists of three chapters and several appendices. The first chapter is devoted to the origin of Yezidism. A description of the Yezidi sacred texts - Kitab-e Jilve and Maskhaf-e Rash-is given; the Yezidi concept of God is considered on the basis of Yezidi oaths and prayers; the biography of the main Yezidi reformer of the XI century is given. Sheikh Adi and his ideas. The author tries to reconstruct the main archetypes of Yezidism - the images of the peacock (Malaki Tausa) and the ram. The worship of the peacock caused a lot of controversy among researchers. Especially important is his role in the sacred Yezidi history: while helping God to create creation, he refused to bow down to the Creator's created man, for which he was cast down. Of particular interest is the study of modern variations of images of cult symbols by Yezidi artists. Next, we analyze religious prescriptions and prohibitions that play a huge role in the practice of Yezidis, initiation rites, which are compared with initiation rites in Zoroastrianism and the Vedic religion. Interesting is the description of Yezidi religious holidays, compared by the author with Zoroastrian gahambaras. The chapter ends with an essay on the ethnic identity of the Yezidi Kurds. The second chapter, devoted to the analysis of the Yezidi caste structure, explains the principle of division into castes (pirs, sheikhs and mrids). The third chapter is an outline of the five principles of Yezidism.

Of particular value are the following appendices: a dictionary of Yezidi religious terms, which is given in the literature on Yezidology for the first time; a table of Yezidi genera, compiled on the basis of materials collected by the author in the course of working with informants; an index of geographical names.

The reviewed monograph is not without some inaccuracies. For example, paying zakat in the Caliphate is regarded by the author as an obligation of those who refused to accept Islam, a kind of alternative (p. 9). In reality, non-Muslims could not pay it, since zakat was and is one of the pillars of the faith (which the author also mentions). There are incorrect etymologies. So, bedding that is of a ritual nature - "ster" - is compared with the star-ster, although these are simple homonyms. The word is derived by the author from the Arabic. sitr - "curtain, curtain" (p. 98), but in fact it comes from the common Iranian root *star and its derivative - *ster - "to lay". "Sanjak" - a cast image in the form of a peacock on a stand is made from the tour. senceq - "province, district" (p. 147). However, these meanings are secondary, the primary meaning of this word is "banner, standard", under which a certain clan performed in the army. Districts arose when the clans were placed on the territory of Anatolia only under the Ottomans.

St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg University Press, 2005, 192 p.


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The opinions of researchers on the origin of Yezidism differ radically: from the statement of its autochthonous and purely Kurdish nature to attempts to make the teachings of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid b. Mu'awiyah an eponym. At the same time, each group finds a large number of confirmations of their theories - from linguistic analysis to references to Arabic historical and doxographic works.

Some of the author's conclusions should be considered controversial. Especially the conclusion that Yezidism is recognized not only as a native, autochthonous religion of the Kurds, but also as a traditional Iranian religion, along with Zoroastrianism. As a proof of his hypothesis, X. Omarkhali reconstructs several original elements of the Indo-Iranian religion, which are reflected in Yezidism. The most reliable element is the caste system, which goes back to Indo-Iranian roots, since the caste system and the order of initiation, unlike the belief system, are never borrowed. Other stable elements are the system of seven holidays and such elements of Yezidi beliefs as the worship of the sun, fire, water and earth.

The main difficulty for the researcher is that we do not know the structure of the Yezidi society before Sheikh Adi, who radically reformed it. Apparently, the reform consisted in making the community as similar as possible to the Sufi brotherhood (introducing new caste names and rooting in new practices borrowed from Sufis). Any attempts to reconstruct Yezidism before Sheikh Adi due to the lack of material are hypothetical.

The claim that Yezidism "has its roots in the ancient Indo-Iranian religion, elements of which were later adopted by Zoroastrianism and the Vedic tradition "(p.35) cannot receive any serious justification. This consideration is mechanically rejected by another thesis of the author - about the primordial monotheism of Yezidism (pp. 42-45). It is clear that it is impossible to speak about any strict monotheism at the Indo-Iranian level.

Moreover, it is not possible to cite references to the unwritten transmission of hymns as proof of the depth of Yezidi beliefs (p. 35). Such transmission is a common typological feature for all non-written traditions of the globe.

The holy Yezidi scripture, which has not yet been found (or has not yet been discovered), and the existence of which is affirmatively claimed by the believers themselves, should not be traced back to ancient times (pp. 39-40). It is quite possible that such texts could have been composed either by Sheikh Adi,or after him. This is confirmed by the written language in which the extant Yezidi texts are recorded. It is probably a late revision of the Manichaean script.

As already noted, there is no information about Yezidism before Sheikh Adi. Most likely, such doctrinal attitudes of Yezidism as the key role of Malaki Taus are based on cultural and religious syncretism. Thus, it is known that the doctrine of Sheikh Adi and his entourage (adawiyyah) was seriously influenced by Sufism in the person of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani and, indirectly (through Ahmad al-Ghazali), the ideas of al-Hallaj. It is often believed that it was from his doctrine that the Yezidis borrowed Malaki Taus ' worship as Satan (hence his middle name, Azazel). An important proof of this is the maqam al-Hallaja, located in the main Yezidi shrine, the burial place of Sheikh Adi-Lalisheh. It is clear that the Sufi himself has never been there, and this place was chosen for worship by his Yezidi worshippers (representatives of Adawiya).

The author dates the seven archangels who rule the world to pre-Islamic times (pp. 43, 92-93). Of course, we can assume that they are a legacy of Zoroastrian mythology: six holy spirits (spenta-mainyu) plus Ahura-Mazda. However, it is more logical to believe that the veneration of the seven archangels should be traced back to the time of Sheikh Adi. L. Massignon established that the seven angels, identical to the seven images of Malaki Taus (senceq), were originally images of seven Muslim Sufi saints, on which the earthly world order is based (Massignon, 1969, p. 29-30). In addition, the names of the angels are not Iranian, but Semitic. Only later, under the influence of the Ottoman administrative division, the seven places of compact residence of Yezidis began to be called sanjaks.

Both the names of angels and the concepts of "unmanifested" and "manifested council" resemble the system of Muslim mystics-Sufis, Ismailis, extreme Shiites (compare the system of as-Suhrawardi with two kinds of classifications of angels - horizontal and vertical).

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The author regards Seltan Ezida , the supreme god of the Yezidis, as an archaic figure of Yezidi mythology and believes that the title "sultan" was assigned to him much later, during the crisis of Yezidism (p.48). This statement can be argued if we take into account the similar origin of deities and mythological heroes in the pro-Hurramite and extreme Shiite sects, which formed homogeneous groups by the eighth century. Some researchers see this deity as a sacred figure of Yazid b. Mu'awiyah.

The author tries to find traces of the ancient solar symbolism of the Yezidis in the image of Malaki Taus (pp. 53-55). However, this name is most likely a translation of the Arabic nickname of the Muslim angel Jabrayil/Gabriel, especially popular among mystics, Taus al-Malaik - " Peacock among the angels." For example, al-Junaid is credited with comparing Yazid al-Bistami to Gabriel. Al-Junayd's own nickname was Taus al-fuqara, " The Peacock among the beggars."

The image of a ram is attributed by the author to the Zoroastrian ram, a symbol of divine grace (farru), on the grounds that in Kurdish heroic songs the hero is often compared to a ram (pp. 57-62). However, such comparisons (with a bull or ram) are known throughout the Near, Near and Middle East from antiquity to the present day. The most ancient, as far as I know, comparison of the hero with the bull was reflected in Babylon. The ram-shaped tombstones that often adorn Yezidi tombs could have been borrowed by Yezidis, as they are found throughout the Black Sea region from the time of ancient trading posts. At the present stage, yezidology does not have evidence of the autochthonous nature of these images.

Taboos associated with the prohibition of desecration of fire, as well as other natural elements, are peculiar not only to the Zoroastrians and Yezidis (pp. 63-64), as the author claims, but also to many nomadic peoples of Eurasia (for example, the Turks and Mongols). The blue color of mourning cannot serve as proof of the Indo-Iranian origin of Yezidism (pp. 64-65), because it is most likely borrowed from Muslims.

Of great interest in Yezidism is the institution of a brother in the afterlife (pp. 105-106). Apart from the presence of a typological image of the appointment of an intercessor in the afterlife in many religious practices around the world (cf.the Institute of godparents), this practice was also known in Muslim regions (the institute of brother/sister in akhirat (afterlife) in the North Caucasus).

Thus, at this stage, it is very problematic to identify a sufficient number of archaic Indo-Iranian features to raise Yezidism to the Indo-Iranian level.

Another important assumption of the author is the recognition of the kinship of the beliefs of the Shiite extreme sect Ahl-i Haqq ("people of Truth") with Zoroastrianism and Yezidism on the basis of similar cosmological traditions (p. 34). I note that this opinion is generally accepted among the bearers of Yezidism and is often postulated in the Yezidological literature. In fact, the material for Ahl-i Haqq religious beliefs was the beliefs of the Khurramite-Shiite sects.

Taking into account the complexity of the research topic, the above remarks do not in any way detract from the significance of the peer-reviewed work. In my opinion, the main advantage of the monograph is the large amount of factual material collected in the course of working with informants, the construction of genealogical tables of Yezidi genera and the compilation of the first dictionary of Yezidi terms in the history of world science. Thus, a large number of new information is introduced into scientific circulation. All this suggests that the reviewed monograph is, on the one hand, a full-fledged generalizing essay on the current state of Yezidism and is of interest to Orientalists, religious scholars and ethnographers, on the other - the last word in Russian and world Yezidology.

I think the publication of X's book would be very relevant. Omarkhali in English for inclusion in the world back-ground of modern world Yezidology.

list of literature

Rashad Sabri Rashid. Ethno-confessional situation in modern Kurdistan / Edited by E. I. Vasilyeva, St. Petersburg, 2003.

Semenov A. A. the Worship of Satan from the Persian Kurds, Yezidis. [Translated from:] I. Joseph. Devil Worship. The Sacred Books and Tradition of the Yezids. Boston, 1919 // Bulletin of the Central Asian State University. Issue No. 16. Tashkent, 1927.

Allison F. C. The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan. L., 2001.

Kreyenbrock Ph. G. Yezidism: its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition. Lewiston; N. Y., 1995.

Massignon L. Opera minora. Textes recuelles classes avec bihl. par Y. Moubarac. 2. Paris, 1969.

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Yazidism, as it has been repeatedly noted in the scientific literature, is one of the least studied areas of Oriental studies. This applies not only to the Yezidi religion, but also to their culture, identity, and other issues that are certainly relevant, primarily in the religious context. This is mainly due to the special form of cultural and historical existence of this unique ethno-confessional group-a people whose fundamental identity factor is religion.

Oriental studies of the last quarter of the twentieth century gave a new dynamic to research in this most interesting area. However, along with the works of academic scientists, near-scientific publications have also appeared in abundance, often demonstrating an approach to this topic either in line with politicized Kurdology, or from the point of view of the so-called mythologized or legendary history of the people. Most often, both approaches are combined into a kind of general pseudoscientific speculation.

Since almost all such works are published by independent non-academic publishers, there is usually no reaction to them in the scientific world. In the case of Book X. Omarkhali ignoring the problem on the part of academic Oriental studies is fraught with sad consequences not only for the idle reader, but also for the serious novice researcher, because the work was published in the publishing house of St. Petersburg University and, as the preface says, "is a kind of introduction to the study of Yezidism" (p. 3). If it were not for this fact, it is unlikely that it would be worth reviewing such work in general.

In a book that is completely devoid of academic approach, it is easier to find information that is odious than any reasonable one. Errors have already crept into the name itself: this is the spelling "Yezidism" instead of the generally accepted form "Yezidism" in the scientific literature, and the pretentious "from the depths of thousands of years", despite the absolutely obvious fact that the history of the Yezidis can only be described as centuries old. Even tradition itself traces the emergence of the first Yezidi community directly to the activities of Sheikh Adi - a historical figure with a fairly well - documented biography (born c. 1075) - and his brotherhood. The latter, in fact, can be considered correct, with the only caveat that Sheikh Adi bin Musafir founded the Adawiyya Sufi order, part of which later really formed the basis of the nascent Yazidi community. The very origin and development of Yazidism cannot be traced outside the context of the religious situation of the XI-XIII centuries in northern Iraq, where in the process of active interaction and contacts, transformation and synthesis of various confessions - Islamic Mystical trends, Christianity, Gnostic ideas and pagan cults - a new syncretic teaching was formed and crystallized. All this certainly did not happen overnight - more than three centuries separate the first sermon of Sheikh Adi bin Musafir from the time when we can confidently attribute the existence of Yazidism as a relatively well-formed teaching [Guest, 1987, p. 15-28; Kreyenbroek, 1995, p. 27-45 Arakelova, 2004, p. 19-29; Arakelova, 2006, p. 63-66].

The author tries to present Yezidism as one of the "oldest religions of the Kurds", with its roots going back "to the ancient Indo-Iranian religion, elements of which were later adopted by Zoroastrianism and the Vedic tradition" (p. 35). At the same time, for some reason, Zoroastrianism itself is characterized by the author as a religion that lacked "strict rituals and a complex kind of funeral rite" (p.8), although the dogmatism of both Zoroastrian Orthodoxy and Orthopraxia does not need any additional evidence base.

Leaving aside the problem of self-consciousness of Yezidis (the term complex identity is most appropriate here), and therefore their identification as a separate ethno-confessional community (the main task of both the work itself and this review is different), let us turn once again to the question of artificial archaization of this religion. At the junction of the 1st and 2nd centuries, certain tribes of the Middle East region were still adherents of pre-Islamic cults or, rather, retained some elements of these cults (and this was already enough to be known as" Zoroastrians " - Arab, majus). The Syrian author Bar-Ebrei (d. 1286) tells, for example, about the tayrahye Kurdish tribe in Hulwan, who carried out constant raids on settlements near Mosul. He describes the people of this tribe as idolaters, followers of the magus religion-magusuta [Nau and Tfinkdji, 1915, p. 188]. Nevertheless, the question of the presence of allegedly pre-Islamic Iranian elements in the Yezidi religion should be taken seriously-

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I'll be careful. In recent decades, Kurdish nationalist circles have often exploited the false idea that Yazidism is a pre - Islamic religion of the Kurds, based on Zoroastrianism and preserved among a small part of them that did not convert to Islam. Such claims of Yezidis are rejected not only by Yezidi clergy (and even those who consider Yezidis a Kurdish sect [Issa, 1997, p. 17]), but also by Zoroastrian clerical circles (Dadrawala, 2001).

As for the scientific approach to the problem, firstly, the existence of the Kurds as a separate ethnic unit in the early Middle Ages, not to mention antiquity, is a very controversial issue [Asatrian, 2001; Asatryan, Markaryan, 2006, pp. 203-206], and secondly, even those elements in Yezidism The elements that could presumably be identified as ancient Iranian (which is also not always unambiguous) could have penetrated there indirectly, through any of the many elements that formed the mosaic of the religious landscape of Northern Mesopotamia. If so-called archaic cult elements are found in Yezidism, they may well also be manifestations of universal religious cliches traced in the Near East, including in the Iranian world, and not the result of direct ancient Iranian (Zoroastrian) continuity [Arakelova, 2004].

The next key issue to pay attention to is the origin of the ethnonym "Yezid". The author mistakenly, however, echoing a long-standing misconception, the refutation of which is devoted to more than one academic work, ascribes it to others-ir. yazata. By the way, the Yezidis do not call their religion ezditi, as the author notes (p. 31), but sharfadin: "Atqata min Silt'an Ezld, Dine min Sarfadin" ("My faith is Sultan Yezid, my religion is Sharfadin") [Celil O., Celil C, 1978, p. 377] - most probably one of the main epithets of the tabooed name of the main deity - Malaka-Tavusa [Asatrian and Arakelova, 2003].

The term "Yazid" can definitely be traced back to Yazid bin Mu'awiyyah. The Yezidi folk tradition, identifying the Yezidi Sultan with the second Umayyad Caliph, presents the latter in a peculiar guise. According to one popular version, a Yazidi once turned away from Islam and adopted the religion of Adam's son, Shahid bin Jarrah, the legendary progenitor of the Yazidis, spreading it everywhere in Syria before the arrival of Sheikh Adi (Spaet, 2002).

The genesis of this phenomenon can be traced unambiguously. Apparently, the image of Yazid bin Mu'awiyyah, probably already deified, entered the not yet fully formed community together with a group of religious and political followers of the Umayyad dynasty, including Yazid bin Mu'awiyyah himself, a phenomenon quite common, even typical of the religious picture of Mesopotamia at that time. By the way, the Adawiyyah also had a special reverence for the Umayyads, because Sheikh Adi bin Musafir himself belonged to this dynasty.

It should also be borne in mind that ezdi (from *ezidi) is not the only name of the sect. In the old days, there were other designations of the community, now lost, but preserved in religious hymns. First of all, it is a'dabi, which comes from the Arabic, 'adawl and means" follower of Sheikh Adi" or rather "member of the Adawiyah order", and not "politeness, good breeding, culture", as the author translates (p. 130). Further, Sarql, literally, "eastern" (rather, from the combination of 'adawlye sarql [Celil O., Celil C., 1978, p. 321], i.e. "eastern adawiyya", and dasini - after the name of one of the Yezidi tribes. Apparently, there was a time when all these terms, along, of course, with ez (I)di, were used in relation to the community in parallel, and the dominant one among them (including as a self-name) was most likely a'dabi or 'adawl. The term ez (I) di is a clear legacy of the aforementioned Umayyad worshippers among the Adawiyahs. Later, by the XV-XVI centuries, the name ez(i) dl, apparently, was finally assigned to the community, replacing other terms. A certain overlap of endo - and exoethnonyms may well have contributed to this. The tragedy of Karbala made Caliph Jazid an iconic figure among the Umayyads, and his name acquired a certain sinister connotation among the Shiites. So the term "Yezid", already existing as one of the endoethnonyms of the community, could eventually become fixed as a pejorative exoethnonym on the part of Shiite neighbors in relation to people who revered one of the main enemies of Shiism.

X's statement is also completely unsubstantiated. Omarkhali spoke about the existence from ancient times of a certain "Holy Scripture of the Yezidis, which was later used by the authors of religious texts that have come down to us" (p.35), as well as the Yezidi alphabet, which allegedly represents an independent writing system (p. 41). As for the so-called holy books of Yezidism - the "Books of Revelation" and the "Black Book", attributed by the Yezidi tradition to the Sheikh, respectively

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If you look at the works of Adi bin Musafir and his great-grandnephew Sheikh Hassan bin Adi, they contain only a small fraction of information about Yazidism as a religious teaching. The authorship of the texts is unknown. Perhaps the only thing that can be said for sure is that their origin is rather late. The texts of the scriptures were first translated into English in 1899 by Edouard Brown, and not by Bittner, as the author notes (p. 40) from a manuscript discovered by Oswald Parry [Parry, 1895, p. 374-380] and now stored in the Bibliotheque National in Paris. In 1911, Father Anastase Marie published the cryptographic copies of the Holy Scriptures that he discovered [Anastase Marie, 1911]. In 1913, a German translation of two versions of the scriptures, Kurdish and Arabic, was published by M. Bittner [Bittner, 1913]. In 1989, an Armenian translation was published with detailed comments (Asatryan and Poladyan, 1989). The main primary source that allows us to restore the main characteristics of this religious teaching, as well as elements of folk beliefs, as well as a number of worldview categories of Yezidis, is the deeply original multi - genre folklore of Yezidis, the oral religious code-Qawl-u-bayt'.

The scope of the review does not allow us to dwell in detail on the numerous less significant errors of the work, which are in principle acceptable for any researcher, and even more so for those working in such a complex field of religious studies. Let's mention just a few of them. Thus, the author interprets the term "ster" ("bedding") through Kurd, stef - "star", although it goes back to the other-ir. * starya - (root *star -), the Slavic correspondence of which is seen in the word "bed". It is also incorrect to translate the term "kocha:;" (the name of the religious stratum) as "ascetic" (p. 137), which Kreyenbroek also mistakenly translates as "junior" (from Persian, kucak - "small, junior") [Kreyenbroek, 1995, p.134]. It is rather "dog, guardian" in the sense of "guardian of the court of Sheikh Adi" (from Kurd, kucik - "dog, dog"). This etymology is also confirmed by the fact that otherwise the Kochaks are called "yard dogs (servants) of Sheikh Adi". The translation of the term" fakir "- the name of another stratum of clergy in Lalesh - as" beggar, ascetic " (p.132) is also doubtful. "Faqir" in this case is the Kurmanj adaptation of Arabic, faqlh - "sage, expert, interpreter of religious law", which corresponds to the functions and status of Yazidi faqirs - they once served as visiting judges in the community [Coon, 1958, p. 138].

However, it only makes sense to discuss them if the basic, conceptual message is correct.

By the way, in line with this topic, I would like to mention the recent publication of D. O. Polatov " Yezidis. Religion and the people" (Moscow: Izvestiya, 2005). Without claiming to be academic, the author rather expresses his view on the religion that he professes, relying mainly on the national tradition. And although there are also many ambiguous interpretations, it is quite possible to leave the work to the court of the Yezidi clergy, authoritative sheikhs.

As for professional Orientalists who are published under the label of an academic publishing house, first of all it is necessary to draw a clear line between their own tradition and historical reality. The facts presented from a scientific point of view, of course, do not always, moreover, extremely rarely coincide with the popular interpretation of phenomena and details that exist among the carriers of cultures themselves. Paying tribute to the legendary history, tradition, and its proper religious interpretation - the most important layers of spiritual culture and integral elements of self-consciousness, a scientist must first of all be able to perceive all of this as invaluable material for scientific analysis.

list of literature

V. Arakelova K istorii formirovaniya yezidskoy obshchestva [On the history of the formation of the Yezidi community]. Yerevan, 2006. N 40.

Asatryan G., Markaryan S. [Rec. on:] Istoriya Kurdistana [History of Kurdistan]. Moscow, 2006. N 2.

Asatryan G., Poladyan A. Yezidi religion: main deities, holy scriptures // Historical and Philological Journal. Yerevan, 1989. N 4 .( in Armenian).

Arakelova V. Notes on the Yezidi Religious Syncretism // Iran & the Caucasus. Vol. 8, 1. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2004.

Anastase Marie P. La decouverte recente des deux livres sacres des Yezidis // Anthropos. Internationale Zeitschriftfiir Viilker- und Sprachenkunde. Bd. VI (1911).

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Asatrian G. Die Ethnogenese der Kurden und friihe kurdisch-armenische Kontakte IIIran & the Caucasus. Vol. 5. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2001.

Asatrian G., Arakelova V. Malak-Tawus: the Peacock Angel of the Yezidis // Iran & the Caucasus. Vol. 7, 1 - 2. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2003.

Bittner M. Die heilige Bucher der Jeziden oder Teufelsanbeter (kurdisch und arabisch). Wien, 1913.

Celil O., Celil C. Zargotina Kurda. Yerevan, 1978.

Coon C. S. Caravan: The Story of the Midle East. N. Y., 1958.

Dadrawala N. H. The Yezidis of Kurdistan - Are they really Zoroastrians??? II published on the Internet, 2001.

Guest J. S. The Yezidis. A Study in Survival. N. Y., 1987.

Issa Sh. Yezid ibn Mu'awiya und die Yeziden: Eine religionswissen-schaftliche Untersuchung //Denge Ezdiyan. 1997. N 6 - 7.

Kreyenbroek Ph. Yezidism - Its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition. N. Y., 1995.

Nau F.,Tfindji J. Receuilde texts et de documents sur les Yezidis // Revue de Г Orient Chretien. II series. Vol. 20. P., 1915.

Parry O. H. Six Months in a Syrian Monastery. L., 1895.

Spaet E. Shahid bin Jarr, Forefather of the Yezidis and the Gnostic Seed of Seth // Iran & the Caucasus. Vol. 6, 1 - 2. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2002.

In the Russian scientific literature of recent decades, it is difficult to find at least one special study devoted to Yezidism, a relict religion that has miraculously survived on the territory of modern Iraq and a number of neighboring countries. There are Yezidis in Russia as well. It is known that this issue is a kind of forbidden topic, since the Yezidis, first of all, are Kurds, and secondly, according to some rumors, are worshippers of Satan. The outsider nation of the Middle East has long attracted the attention of thinking people. Even A. S. Pushkin in his" Journey to Arzrum " describes his meeting with the Yezidis and the impression that the representatives of this denomination made on him. Russian and European travelers of the 19th century left a number of notes about the culture, life and religion of this closed community, which was subjected to persecution and persecution by stronger neighbors for several centuries. Many scholars of Kurdish issues also discussed Yezidism in general terms, but few of them were seriously interested in the history and culture of this small community. In Soviet times, the study of Yezidis was mainly approached from an ethnographic perspective, while scientists paid almost no attention to religion.

In the West, the situation was somewhat different. Some sacred texts were published there, and monographs were published that considered the spiritual and material culture of the Yezidis as an inseparable whole. The main specialists in Yezidism are Prof. Philipp Kraenbrock from Göttingen and the English scientist Christina Ellison. In the last half-century, the literature of the Yezidi community itself has flourished. Some of them have long lived in the West, while remaining faithful to their religion and their cultural heritage. Such studies include a book by Hanna Omarkhali, who lives and works in St. Petersburg, but has deep roots in the Yezidi community and belongs to the hereditary group of pirs (spiritual mentors of Yezidis). The necessity and importance of such work in Russian is evidenced by the attention paid to this work by major domestic Iranian scholars, including academies. Russian Academy of Sciences I. M. Steblin-Kamensky-author of the preface to the book.

In the appendix to his monograph X. Omarkhali included a dictionary of Yezidi religious terms, genealogical tables of Yezidi clans that form the three endogamous castes into which Yezidi society is divided. It emphasizes the primary importance of the fire cult (ager) in Yezidism, which is also associated with the worship of the sun. Yezidis are a nation-state, although their country is not marked on geographical maps. They are headed by a hereditary ruler (mir), who combines spiritual and secular power in his person. The world appoints a number of assistants who are also servants of the main sanctuary of the Yezidis-the temple in Lalesh (Northern Iraq). Religious rites in Lalesh are led by Babasheh, the second person in the hierarchy after Mir. The term babasheh, like many other terms of the Yezidi cult practice-

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tiki appears to be borrowed from the everyday life of the Sufi fraternities that have always flourished in Iraq.

Is it possible to speak (as X does)? Omarkhali) that Yezidism as a religion is older than Sufism and goes back to ancient Iranian folk beliefs, that it is the original religion of the Kurds? I think these conclusions are too hasty, they need additional justification. Yezidis worship a single God, according to the author, Seltan-Yezid. However, a greater place in the cult practice is occupied by the supreme angel of Malaki Tawus ("Peacock Angel"). Some of the ritual practices of the Yezidis echo those of the extreme Shiite sects (Alawites, Ali Ilahi, Qizilbash, Ahl-i Haqq), which are also partially spread among the Kurds. So, each Yezid must have a" brother in the afterlife " - a twin brother who is obliged to help him all his life and intercede for him after death before the higher powers. The Turkish Kyzylbash (musahiplik) have exactly the same twinning ritual.

There are a lot of ambiguities and blank spots in the history of Yezidism. It seems that an analysis of the religious terminology of the Yezidis could clarify some things. This applies to the contents of such objects of worship as the" ball of Sheikh Adi", i.e. clay balls made from the clay of a sacred spring (cf.habbe stones among the Turkish Kyzylbash). The name of the Moon in Yezidism - khiv, probably goes back to the name of the Mesopotamian god Moon Sina. The veneration of the White Spring in Lalesh again brings to mind the legends of the bektashiya brotherhood, which speak of a mysterious White Spring from Khorasan.

It is obvious that in Yezidi beliefs there are several layers, which is expressed in the presence of two parallel hierarchies of saints - earthly and heavenly, in the variety of names that are given to the same characters. In my opinion, the Yezidi religion has an eclectic, syncretic character, which makes it similar to the religions of late antiquity represented in the same region (Mithraism, Manichaeism, Sabaism, Mandaism). But to say that Yezidism is derived from one of these religious systems would be incorrect. We know Yezidism only in a Muslim (and partly Christian) environment, and only since the thirteenth century. It is not yet possible to determine its origin on the basis of available sources. But in any case, we should welcome the desire of X. Omarkhali drew the attention of Oriental scholars to the study of Yezidism and wished her success in her research on such a complex topic.


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