Kurdish Culture

Despite their shared faith of Islam, the Kurds are ethnically and culturally different from their Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi neighbors. Most Kurds live in the countryside, in small farming villages. The chief occupations are agriculture and animal husbandry. Wheat, barley, rye, and oats are the principal crops, despite poor soils and natural vegetation in the Kurdish area. The two most important resources in the area are crude oil and water.

Kurds are predominantly Sunni Muslim, with an estimated 75% of Kurds adhering to this sect. However people in southern areas of Kurdistan and in the Iranian province are mostly Shi'ite. The conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite has never proved to be a major problem for Kurds however. (MacDonald 238)

The Kurdish language is closely related to Persian, but regional dialects vary enough that one person of Kurdish descent might not understand another from a different region. Some areas of Kurdistan use the Latin, cyrillic, and Arabic alphabet to write in Kurdish, which further confuses communication. Sorani is the most widely used dialect, being the language used in radio broadcasts and publications.

The Kurdish New Year, Newroz, is on March 21. Celebrating this holiday is a symbol of Kurdish pride, as it has been banned in Turkey for almost 80 years. This holiday dates back to 612 BC when the Median Army occupied Nineveh to put an end to the Assyrian rule in the area. The day is also connected to the largely mythic blacksmith named Kawa, who is believed to have led a successful revolt against a tyrannical middle eastern ruler the same year. The current Kurdish year according to their calender is 2610.

Kurdistan web's culture page excellent source for the art, folklore and literature

"Exploring Kurdish Origins" by Mehrdad R. Izady. Very good source for ancient history of Kurds

Washington Kurdish Institute mostly propaganda, but contains very good art and a calender of Kurdish cultural events worldwide

 Kurdish Language Dictionary  Kurdish Library
 Kurdish Art  Voice of America's Kurdish Service
 The American Kurdish Information Network  Kurdish 2000 Plus Forum
 Kurdistan Children's Fund  University of Sulaimany

Picture is of Mahabad Kurdish province in Iran, from http://user.tninet.se/~chq945d

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