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Kurdish Researcher Mustafa Dehqan
Mustafa Dehqan, who contributed some important articles to the world of "Kurdish Studies", living in, Eastern Kurdistan. His parents were forced to move from Kurdistan to Tehran where, in 1978, Mustafa was born. They currently live in Karadj, a small city on the outskirts of Tehran. Mustafa holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in historical linguistics from the University of Tehran. To date, he has published a number of essays on Kurdish literature and dialects, historical manuscripts and documents, and religious traditions. His main research interest is Kurdish manuscripts, documents, and textual traditions.
A Zazaki Alevi Treatise from Diyarbekir
A KIRMAÞANÎ TRANSLATION OF
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
by Mustafa Dehqan
Kurdish Writers in Arabic Biographical Dictionaries
by MUSTAFA DEHQAN
Independent Researcher, Iranian Kurdistan
The life and works of Muslim Kurdish intellectuals have long in-
terested scholars and have been the subject of many studies. These
studies have generally been based on the Kurds’ own works and on
other sources, primarily in Kurdish, written in the contemporary
period. Only rarely has there been recourse to another group of
sources that might shed additional light on these neglected person-
alities. This article discusses one of these other sources, the Arabic
biographical dictionaries known as t .abaq¯ at. Arab biographers in
these compendia present Kurdish writers in a somewhat different
light, not necessarily negative, from that found in other Arabic and
KEYWORDS Kurdistan, Kurds, Kurdish, Arabic, biographers, in-
The life and works of Muslim Kurdish intellectuals, from medieval times to
the end of the 19th century, have long interested scholars and have been
the subject of many studies. These studies have generally been based on the
Kurds’ own works and on other sources, primarily in Kurdish, written in the
contemporary period. Only rarely has there been recourse to another group
of sources that might shed additional light on these neglected personalities.
This article discusses one of these other sources, the Arabic biographical
dictionaries known as t .abaq ¯ at . Arab biographers in these compendia present
Kurdish writers in a somewhat different light, not necessarily negative, from
that found in other Arabic and Persian sources.
Mustafa Dehqan earned his bachelor’s degree in history and his MA in historical linguistics
from the University of Tehran. He is the author of numerous journal articles and conference
Address correspondence to Mustafa Dehqan, PO Box 31535-594, Karadj, Iran. E-mail:
171172 Mustafa Dehqan
The purpose of this article is twofold: ?rst, to acknowledge the Kurdish
contribution to Islamic scholarship and, second, to gather together signi?cant
Kurdish writers found in Arabic biographical dictionaries. While studies of
the Kurds usually concentrate on principal Kurdish sources, much less at-
tention has been paid to the Kurdish community as re?ected in non-Kurdish
materials. Western readers will ?nd here material that is new to both Kurdish
studies and Islamic studies. Muslim readers will ?nd information that adds
to our knowledge of the development and practice of Islamic sheikhs (wise
men), from the viewpoint of Arab biographers. In this way the article, which
serves as a pioneering and scholarly introduction to the subject, brings out
the multidisciplinary nature of the study of Islamic sheikhs. It is intended for
students of religion and history and for the interested lay person.
KURDISH AUTHORS IN HISTORY
Kurdish writers and others’ perceptions of the Kurds, in both Muslim and
non-Muslim milieus, have had their own fascinating evolution, of which we
shall present a very brief survey here. In the course of their history Kurdish
writers have often been accused of various heretical teachings and practices
and, at the same time, had a multitude of myths and misconceptions circu-
lated about them.
This state of affairs mainly re?ects the fact that Kurdish
writers were, until the middle of the 16th century, perceived, judged, and
studied almost exclusively on the basis of evidence collected or sometimes
fabricated by their neighbors. Kurdistan never achieved any enduring politi-
cal entity of its own and never attained any stable worldly power.
Most of our knowledge of Kurdish authors therefore comes from the writings of their
adversaries. There have been many Kurdish writers who produced substan-
tial and diversi?ed literature on a variety of subjects and religious themes in
different periods of Islamic history. However, some classical and even mod-
ern writers claim that logic, science, philosophy, and religious dialectics all
came to their ?rst and last ?owering in Arab, Persian, and Turkish milieus.
In opposition to that viewpoint, the current author proposes that the works
of Kurdish writers played an important role in contributing to the framework
for Islamic discussions of later generations. Their works include both schol-
arly theological treatises and more popular polemical tracts. Kurdish writers
also wrote historical and biographical works, legal compendia, poetry, Is-
lamic treatises, and works of history, cosmology, eschatology, esoteric, and
metaphysics. We also ?nd materials that present Qur’¯ anic works by Kurdish
writers including esoteric and allegorical interpretations of the Qur’¯ an.One
theme that emerges in most of these works is their adoption of the methods
and even the technical terminology of the Islamic ‘ilm al-kal¯ am (the science
of theology).Kurdish Writers in Arabic Biographical Dictionaries 173
It is important to recognize the prominence of Kurdish writers in the
Islamic world. However, it is very dif?cult to isolate the Kurdish elements
within the literary and religious milieu of the medieval Islamic world. The
dif?culty stems from the use of the term “Kurdish.” If this term is used lin-
guistically, then it would be absurd to speak of the “Kurdish writings” of
such well-known historians as Bidl¯ is¯ i (d. 1520)
who wrote exclusively in
Persian and not in Kurdish. In other instances, as with the equally famous
writer Mull¯ aG¯ ur¯ an¯ i (d. 1488),
we would have to speak of only some aspects
of his works and leave out the others that were written in Arabic. If, on the
other hand, the term “Kurdish” were used as an ethnic term, then we would
need to embark on an endless pursuit to try to determine the genealogy
of each medieval writer. That is not an easily achievable task because me-
dieval Islamic society was probably one of the most thorough melting pots
in history, in which families intermarried quite freely across ethnic and class
barriers and very frequently moved from one city to another, thereby cross-
ing geographical and even linguistic borders. Think, for example, of such
scientists as ibn H . ¯ ajib (d. 1249),
and even Muh . ammad Am¯ in al-Kurd¯ i(d.
to name only two who obviously hailed from what is now Kurdistan,
and who were then well within the Kurdish linguistic domain and, yet, pro-
duced their scienti?c work in Cairo, where the language of their milieu and
of their writings was de?nitely Arabic. There is no doubt that such scientists
must have added the delightful color of their background to the social life in
Cairo, but no one would dispute that the scienti?c culture of Cairo in which
they worked was de?nitely an Arabic culture.
Finally, despite the fact that one could arguably ?nd an increasing num-
ber of Kurdish writers in later times in various scienti?c disciplines, it is still
dif?cult to group such medieval writers under a thematic structure in which
one could point to such writers and say that there was an indigenous Kur-
dish scienti?c or literary body of work that was independent of the Arabic
scienti?c or literary world. Nevertheless, in the remaining part of this article
I will defend the position that there is some sense in talking about “Kurdish”
writers with special reference to Islamic religion.
In the medieval Middle East the great majority of scientists, as well as
of leading scholars and men of letters, were, it has often been remarked, of
Arab/Persian stock. The Golden Age of Islam was distinguished by intellec-
tual advances, literary innovation, and cultural exuberance attributable, in
no small measure, to the vital participation of Arab/Persian men of letters,
philosophers, theologians, grammarians, musicians, geographers, mathemati-
cians, and physicians. What has emerged is a well-known picture of the rich-
ness, and especially the continuity, of Arab/Persian history and civilization.
To this day Kurdish images are anchored in the minds of Muslims through-
out the world as an uneducated and migrant people. The Kurds—although
on a lower cultural plane than the Arabs/Persians—did possess their tribal
religious tales, those of the Kurdish sects, glorifying, it is true, the individual174
tribes and their heroic chiefs and also bringing genuine information on the
Islamic religion and its different cultural aspects. It is a remarkable fact that,
with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars both in religion and in the intel-
lectual sciences have been non-Kurds. When a scholar is of Kurdish origin,
he is usually a non-Kurd in language and upbringing and has non-Kurdish
Although the medieval body of work of the Kurdish mind is relatively
small, we may still be able to glean some information about Kurdish writers
and their contributions to the Islamic world. These writers transferred their
own Islamic religious traditions from their original environment into a new
sphere of in?uence. What are we to conclude from the preceding brief sur-
vey of Kurdish writers in the Islamic world? We should observe that, despite
the exaggerations of some Kurdish authors who tend to minimize the signif-
icance of Arab/Persian elements in the development of Islamic religion, as
well as of other authors who depreciate the importance of non-Arab factors,
the mainstream of Islamic theology has remained as a rule immune both to
the Kurdish racial claims and to their Arab/Persian counterparts. We must
keep in mind that Arabs and Persians are the most important candidates
for this happy combination, and the aspects of Kurdish roots in the religious
and theological history of Islam, which are discussed here, is relatively small.
But, at the same time, Islam is founded on communication, and many great
achievements have been made through Arab-Persian or Turkish-Kurdish co-
operation, just as American civilization has found its special character through
the shared work of so many peoples. In order to substantiate the present
claims further, much more work needs to be done on the curriculum of
medieval Kurdish scholars, in the whole Islamic world, and on the complex
relationship that theologians had with the political powers in Arab courts.
The most signi?cant result that one hopes to achieve, however, is the one
related to the actual position of Kurdish scholars within the schools of the
Islamic world followed by the very learned religious men who were far from
the mundane demands of political power. All these issues should be pursued
elsewhere and at another time. Thus, this article is primarily a bibliograph-
ical picture in which I hope to have addressed some issues concerning the
function and place of Kurdistan in the Islamic world.
A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF KURDISH WRITERS WITHIN ISLAM
The following list includes works of Kurdish writers in the world of Islam. In
addition to covering a number of relatively unknown Kurdish writers, a sec-
ondary part of this list is devoted to the titles of their works. Kurdish writers
are treated rather pejoratively in some medieval and late medieval works of
Muslim biographers, who were mostly of Arabic background. During the ?rst
three centuries of Islam, presenting biographical information about someone
Kurdish Writers in Arabic Biographical Dictionaries 175
was tantamount to supplying details about his study and handling of had¯ iths
(Muslim tradition). On the whole, the genres of t .abaq ¯ at , ‘ilal, and rij¯ al
(three similar kinds of biographical literature) demonstrate in many ways a
considerable overlap. Because of the signi?cance of t .abaq ¯ at within Islam, it
is still a popular genre, even in modern times (with relatively little activity
in the compilation of new works, of course). The t .abaq ¯ at , in any case, is an
important secondary source (some might say a primary source) containing
many detailed accounts of the life and works of Islamic scientists and schol-
ars. A large amount of data concerning cultural, literary and political history
as well as theological discussion, can be gleaned from the t .abaq ¯ at genre.
Medieval Muslims, especially chroniclers of the Crusades and travelers, have
made brief and passing, often fanciful, references to the Kurdish writers,
notably to the Kurdish sheikhs.
These works provide another suitable ?eld of biographical study but are excluded from the
t .abaq ¯ at genre that is the subject of this article. I have included all those writers whose
names are not familiar to the Kurdish specialists and about whom questions are frequently
asked. I have ?xed, with all possible precision, the dates of their birth and
death. I have traced their works as far back as possible, and I have cited the
traits that may best serve to characterize each individual.
In preparing this article for publication, no revision has been carried out
on the body of the original texts beyond the correction of a few conspicuous
errors. In Arabic biographical dictionaries, an author was seldom well-known
by what was, strictly speaking, his “name,” and this creates problems for
both compilers and users of dictionaries. To help readers understand the
way in which authors’ names are analyzed into their component parts and
arranged in this index according to a logical system, it may be useful to
note that the designation under which an author is to be found begins
wherever possible with the ism (for example, MUH . AMMAD al-KURD¯ I). All
the other names, such as kunyahs (patronymics such as AB¯ UMUH . AMMAD)
or a name of honor (for example, SHAMS al-D¯ IN) are also included. But an
exception is made in the case of those names that have ?gured prominently
in previous works under a Kurdicized form, for example, ‘ADˆ I, not ‘UDAY.
With a few exceptions the transliteration of Arabic follows the system of the
International Journal of Middle East Studies.
The order of headings is alphabetical. In the arrangement adopted here,
the Arabic de?nite article (al-) is at the beginning of an entry, and the
transliteration symbols for the Arabic letters hamza (’) and ‘ayn (‘), and
sometimes distinctions between different letters transliterated by the same
Latin character (for example, d and d . ) are ignored for purposes of alpha-
betization. Some inconsistencies in spelling and transliteration in the text
re?ect the varying conventions of the editions in which the entries origi-
nally appeared. The sources themselves are not even uniform in their pre-
sentation of biographical details. Cross references to main entries are also
provided.176 Mustafa Dehqan
§ 1. al-IS‘IRD¯ I, Khal¯ il b. H . usayn al-Is‘ird¯ ial-‘Umar¯ ial-Kurd¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i
Works: Azh¯ ar al-Ghus . ¯ un min Maq¯ ul¯ at Arb¯ ab al-Fun¯ un, Us . ¯ ul al-
H . ad¯ ith, Us . ¯ ul al-Fiqh, Qaw¯ a‘id al-‘Aq¯ a’id,and ¯ Ad¯ ab Sul ¯ uk al-
S . ¯ uf¯ iya10
§ 2. al-SAHR¯ AN¯ I, Ab¯ uBakrb.Muh . ammadb.Sulaym¯ an al-Kurd¯ i al-Sahr¯ an¯ i
al-H . anaf¯ i (d. 1638)
Works: Sharh . al-Kaw¯ akib al-Durr¯ iya11
§ 3. al-S .UHR¯ I, ‘Abd al-Rah .m¯ an b. Ibr¯ ah¯ im al-Kurd¯ ial-S .uhr¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i
Works: Tafs¯ ir S¯ ura Y¯ as¯ in, H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aH . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘Is . ¯ am ‘al¯ a al-Juz‘
al-Akh¯ ir min al-Qur’¯ an12
§ 4. H . ASAN b. ‘ADˆ I, H . asan b. ‘Uday b. S .akhr b. Mus¯ a?r al-Kurd¯ i, T¯ aj
al-‘ ¯ Arif¯ in, Shams al-D¯ in, Ab¯ uMuh . ammad (1195–1246)
Works: al-Jilwa, Mah . ak al-¯ Im¯ an, H . ad¯ ayat al-As .h . ¯ ab, and many un-
§ 5. al-KURD¯ I, Ibr¯ ah¯ im b. H . aydar b. Ah .mad al-Kurd¯ ial-S .afaw¯ ial-
H . usayn¯ ab¯ ad¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i (d. 1731)
Works: Ris¯ ala f¯ i al-Mantiq, al-Ris¯ ala al-Quds¯ iya al-T . ¯ ahira bi-Sharh .
al-Durr al-F¯ akhira, H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aSharh . ‘Is . ¯ am al-D¯ in ‘al¯ a al-Ris¯ ala
al-‘Ad . ud¯ iya14
§ 6. al-KURD¯ I, Ab¯ u Bakr al-Kurd¯ i al-Dimashq¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i (d. 1853)
Works: Tafs¯ ir15
§ 7. al-KURD¯ I, Jaw¯ ad b. Taq¯ ial-Kurd¯ ial-Ah .mad¯ ial-Bay¯ at¯ ial-H . ulw¯ an¯ i
Works: al-Fiqh al-Istidl¯ al¯ i, al-Sh¯ af¯ i, Tatm¯ im Mash¯ ariq al-Shum¯ us f¯ i
Sharh . al-Dur ¯ us, Sharh . al-Lum‘a (10 vols.)
§ 8. al-KURD¯ I, H . asan b. Muh . ammad b. Ibr¯ ah¯ im b. al-Kurd¯ ial-N¯ urid¯ in¯ i
al-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i (1629–1668)
Works: Tafs¯ ir17
§ 9. al-KURD¯ I, Ism¯ a’¯ il b. Muh . ammad al-Kurd¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i, Rash¯ id al-D¯ in
(lived about 1373)
Works: Sir¯ aj al-‘ ¯ Abid¯ in f¯ iSharh . al-Arba‘¯ in18
§ 10. al-KURD¯ I, Ily¯ as b. Ibr¯ ah¯ im b. D¯ a’¯ ud b. Khid . ral-Kurd¯ ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ i
Works: H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aSharh . al-Isti‘¯ ar¯ at, Sharh . ‘al¯ aSharh . al-‘Aq¯ a’id
al-Nasaf¯ iya lil-Jal¯ al al-D¯ in al-Daw¯ an¯ i, H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aSharh . Jam‘ al-
Jaw¯ ami‘ ,and H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aSharh .
¯ Is¯ agh¯ uj¯ i
§ 11. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Abd All¯ ah b. Muh . ammad al-Kurd¯ i (d. 1653)
Works: H . ¯ ash¯ iya ‘al¯ aAnw¯ ar al-Tanz¯ il
§ 12. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Abd al-Rah .m¯ an b. H . asan al-Kurd¯ ial-Q¯ adir¯ i (d. 1781)
Works: Sharh . ‘al¯ aLat . ¯ a’if al-Ma‘¯ arif
§ 13. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Abd al-Q¯ adir b. Muh . ammad Sa‘¯ ýd b. Ah .mad al-Takht¯ ý
al-Mard¯ ukh¯ ýal-Kurd¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý (1796–1887)
Works: Taqr¯ ýb al-Mar¯ am f¯ ý Sharh . Tahdh¯ ýb al-Kal¯ am, Ris¯ ala al-‘Ilm,
and Kashf al-Ghit . ¯ a’
22Kurdish Writers in Arabic Biographical Dictionaries 177
§ 14. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Abd al-Wahh¯ ab b. Y¯ usif al-Kurd¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý, T¯ aj al-D¯ ýn
Works: Qurrat al-‘Uy¯ un f¯ ý Tart¯ ýbNaz .m al-Sab‘at Fun¯ un and Bul ¯ ugh
al-As . lf¯ ý fann al-Zajal
§ 15. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Uthm¯ an b. ‘¯ Is¯ a b. Darb¯ as b. Khayr al-M¯ ar¯ an¯ ýal-Kurd¯ I
al-Mawsil¯ Ial-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý, D . ¯ ýy¯ a’ al-D¯ ýn, Ab¯ u ‘Amru (d. 1206)
Works: Sharh . al-Muhadhdhab f¯ ý Fur ¯ u‘ al-Fiqh al-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý, Sharh . al-
Tanb¯ ýh lil-Sh¯ ýr¯ az¯ ý, Sharh . Kit¯ ab al-Luma‘ f¯ ý Us . ¯ ul al-Fiqh (2 vols.),
al-Fuqah¯ a’ (20 vols.), al-Istiqs . ¯ a’ li-Madh¯ ahib al-‘Ulam¯ a’
§ 16. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Uthm¯ an b. ‘Abd al-Malik al-Kurd¯ ýal-Mis .r¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý
Works: Sharh . al-H¯ aw¯ ý al-S . agh¯ ýr, ‘Ilm al-Us . ¯ ul wa al-Jadal, Sharh .
Mukhtas .ar ‘Abd al-‘Az . ¯ ým al-Mundhar¯ ý li-S . ah . ¯ ýh . Muslim, Sharh . Bad¯ ý‘
al-Niz . ¯ am al-J¯ ami’
§ 17. al-KURD¯ I, ‘Umar b. Khid . r b. Ja‘far al-Kurd¯ ý, Jam¯ al al-D¯ ýn, Ab¯ u Sa‘¯ ýd
Works: al-Kanz al-Mat . l ¯ ub f¯ ý al-Daw¯ a’ir wa al-D . ur ¯ ub26
§ 18. al-KURD¯ I, ‘¯ Is¯ ab.Ah .mad b. M¯ ýk¯ a’¯ ýl al-Khushn¯ aw¯ ýal-Kurd¯ ý al-Sahr¯ an¯ ý
al-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý (d. about 1786)
Works: Tafs¯ ýr27
§ 19. al-KURD¯ I, ‘¯ Is¯ ab.S .abghat All¯ ah b. Ibr¯ ah¯ ým b. H . aydar b. Ah .mad b.
H . aydar al-Kurd¯ ýal-S .afaw¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý (1734–1776)
Works: H . ¯ ash¯ ýya ‘al¯ aH . ¯ ash¯ ýya ‘Abd al-H . ak¯ ým‘al¯ aSharh . al-K¯ af¯ ýya
lil-J¯ am¯ ý f¯ ý al-Nah . w28
§ 20. al-KURD¯ I, ‘¯ Is¯ ab.‘Al¯ ýb.H . asan b. Zayd b. Y¯ usif b. ‘Al¯ ýal-B¯ aw¯ ý
al-Kurd¯ ý (d. 1715)
Works: Muf¯ ýd al-I‘r¯ ab f¯ ý al-Nah . w29
§ 21. al-KURD¯ I, Q¯ asim b. Muh . ammad al-Kurd¯ ý (d. 1640)
Works: Jam‘ Nas¯ a’im al-San¯ a’ f¯ ý Mad¯ ýnat B¯ usn¯ a30
§ 22. al-KURD¯ I, Muh . ammad b. Ab¯ ýBakrb.Muh . ammad b. Sulaym¯ an
al-Kurd¯ ý al-Shahr¯ an¯ ýal-H . anaf¯ ý (d. 1656)
Works: al-Durra al-Mad . ¯ ýya f¯ ý Sharh . al-Kaw¯ akib al-Durr¯ ýya f¯ ý Madh .
Khayr al-Bar¯ ýya and Sharh . al-T . ar¯ ýqat al-Muh . ammad¯ ýya f¯ ý al-
Maw‘iz . a31
§ 23. al-KURD¯ I, Muh . ammad T . ¯ ah¯ a (d. 1742)
Works: Tafs¯ ýr32
§ 24. al-KURD¯ I, Muh . ammad b. Sulaym¯ an al-Kurd¯ ýal-Madan¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý
Works: al-H . aw¯ ash¯ ý Madan¯ ýya ‘al¯ aSharh . al-Muqadimat al-
H . ad . ram¯ ýya li-ibn H . ajar al-Haytham¯ ý f¯ ý Fur ¯ u‘ al-Fiqh al-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý,
H . aw¯ a’ij al-Ins¯ an, al-Fat¯ aw¯ ý, ‘Uq¯ ud al-Durar f¯ ý Bay¯ an Mus . t .alah . ¯ at
Tuh . fat b. H . ajar33
§ 25. al-KURD¯ I, Muh . ammad Am¯ ýn b. Fath . All¯ ahz¯ ada al-Kurd¯ ýal-Arbil¯ ý
al-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý (d. 1913)
Works: Tanw¯ ýr al-Qul ¯ ub, Irsh¯ ad al-Muh . t¯ aj il¯ aH . uq¯ uq al-
Azw¯ aj, D¯ ýw¯ an, al-‘Uh¯ ud al-Wath¯ ýqa f¯ ý al-Tamassuk bi-Shar¯ ý‘a wa178 Mustafa Dehqan
al-H . aq¯ ýqa, Had¯ ayat al-T . ¯ alib¯ ýn li-Ah . k¯ am al-D¯ ýn, Murshid al-‘Aw¯ am
li-Ah . k¯ am al-S . ¯ ýy¯ am ‘al¯ aal-Madh¯ ahib al-Arba‘a34
§ 26. al-KURD¯ I, Mah .m¯ ud al-Kurd¯ ýal-Khalwat¯ ý (d. 1781)
Works: Ris¯ ala f¯ ý al-H . ukm35
§ 27. al-KURD¯ I, Murtad . ¯ ab.Mus . t .af¯ ab.H . asan al-Kurd¯ ýal-As . l al-Dimashq¯ ý
al-Mawlid al-H . anaf¯ ý, Am¯ ýr al-Kurd¯ ý (d. 1742)
Works: Tahdh¯ ýbal-At .w¯ ar f¯ ý ‘Aj¯ a’ib al-Ams . ¯ ar, ‘Uq¯ ud al-Jum¯ an f¯ ý
‘Adam S . uh . bat Abn¯ a’ al-Zam¯ an36
§ 28. al-KURD¯ I, Y¯ usif al-Kurd¯ ýal-Sh¯ a?‘¯ ý (d. 1402)
Works: al-Mash . ‘al¯ a al-Jawrabayn Mut . laqan and Tazw¯ ýj al-S . agh¯ ýra
allat¯ ý l¯ aAblah¯ awal¯ aJadd37
§ 29. al-MAWS . IL¯ I, Y¯ usif b. ‘Abd al-Jal¯ ýl b. Mus . t .af¯ aal-Kurd¯ ý al-Khid . r¯ ýal-
Jal¯ ýl¯ ýal-Maws . il¯ ý (d. 1825)
Works: Kashf al-Asr¯ ar wa Dhakh¯ a’ir al-Anw¯ ar and al-Intis . ¯ ar lil-
Awl¯ ýy¯ a’ al-Akhy¯ ar38
§ 30. al-HAKK¯ AR¯ I, Ah .mad b. Ah .mad b. Ah .mad b. al-H . usayn b. M¯ us¯ a
al-Kurd¯ ýal-As . lal-H . akk¯ ar¯ ý, Shih¯ ab al-D¯ ýn (d. 1825)
Works: Kit¯ ab f¯ ý Rij¯ al al-S . ah . ¯ ýh . ayn39
1. See, for example, a brief account regarding Sheikh Khid . ral-Kurd¯ ý, al-Katb¯ ý, S .al¯ ah . , Faw¯ at
al-Wafy¯ at (B¯ ul¯ aq: Mat .ba‘a B¯ ul¯ aq, 1862) 193; cf. also Manfried Dietrich, “Die ‘Teufelsanbeter’ in Nord-
Iraq und ihre historischen und religionsgeschichtlichen Beziehungen zum Alten Orient,” Jahrbuch f ¨ ur
Anthropologie und Religionsgeschichte 2 (1974): 139–168.
2. For a good analysis of the most important Kurdish dynasties, see Barb, Heinrich A. “Geschichte
von f¨ unf Kurden-Dynastien,” Sphil.-hist.Cl.AdW 28 (Wien) (1858): 1–54; idem, “Geschichte von weiteren
f¨ unf Kurden-Dynastien,” S phil.-hist. Cl. AdW SD 30 (Wien) (1859): 1–66.
3. For the claim that they were only “uneducated persons” that lived among Muslims, see Mustafa
Dehqan, “Allusions to the Kurdish Community in Shiite Classical Literature,” MELA Notes 79 (2006): 5–7.
4. On the Bidl¯ ýs¯ ý, his Kurdishness, and his activities in Kurdistan, see Bidl¯ ýs¯ ý, Sharaf Kh¯ an b. Shams
al-D¯ ýn, Sheref-n¯ ame ou Histoire des Kourdes,ed.V,V´ eliaminof-Zernof (St. P´ etersbourg: Commissionnaire
de l’Acad´ emie Imp´ eriale des Sciences, 1862) 342ff .
5. On the Mull¯ aG¯ ur¯ an¯ ý and his Kurdishness, see Franz Babinger, Mehmed der Eroberer und seine
Zeit (Munich: Bruckmann, 1953) 518.
6. On the ibn H . ¯ ajib and his Kurdishness, see ibn Farh . ¯ un, Ab¯ u‘AmruJam¯ al al-D¯ ýn ‘Uthm¯ an b.
‘Umar, al-D¯ ýb¯ aj, ed. M. A. Abu al-N¯ ur. (Cairo: D¯ ar al-Tur¯ ath, 1974) ii, 89.
7. On the life of Muh . ammad Am¯ ýn, see Arthur John Arberry, Su?sm (London: Allen and Unwin,
8. This is discussed in detail in Ibrahim Hafsi, “Recherches sur le genre T . abaq¯ at dans la litt´ erature
arabe,” Arabica 23 (1976): 227–265; 24 (1977): 1–41, 150–186.
9. See Mustafa Dehqan, “References to Kurds in the Medieval Arabic and Persian Literature,” Acta
Orientalia 69 (Copenhagen, 2008): 169–186.
10. On this writer, see al-Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Ism¯ a’¯ ýP¯ ash¯ a. Had¯ ýya al-‘ ¯ Arif¯ ýn, Asm¯ a’ al-Mu’allif¯ ýnwa ¯ Ath¯ ar
al-Mus .annif¯ ýn, vol. 1 (Istanbul: Kaya, 1958) 357.
11. Ibid., 239. For further notes, see Kah . h . ¯ ala, ‘Umar Rad . ¯ a, Mu‘jam al-Mu’allif¯ ýn,vol.3(Beirut:
Mu’assisa al-Ris¯ ala, 1955) 72.
12. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Ism¯ a‘¯ ýP¯ ash¯ a, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un f¯ ý al-Dhayl ‘al¯ a Kashf al-Z . un¯ un, vol. 1 (Baghdad:
D¯ ar al-Kit¯ ab, 1969) 308.Kurdish Writers in Arabic Biographical Dictionaries 179
13. See al-Dhahab¯ ý, Shams al-D¯ ýn Ab¯ u‘AbdAll¯ ah. Siyar A‘l¯ am al-Nubal¯ a’, vol. 13 (Cairo. n.d.)
14. See al-Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 1, 567; Fihrist al-Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 4/160.
15. See Kah . h . ¯ ala, op. cit., vol. 3, 70.
16. See al-‘ ¯ Amil¯ ý, Sayyid Muh . sin Am¯ ýn, A‘y¯ an al-Sh¯ ý‘a, vol. 17 (Beirut: al-Tur¯ ath, 1980) 65–67.
17. Compare Kah . h . ¯ ala, op. cit., vol. 3, 274, and the references there.
18. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un,vol.2,7.
19. See al-Mur¯ ad¯ ý, Muh . ammad Khal¯ ýl, Silk al-Durar, vol. 1 (Cairo: B¯ ul¯ aq, 1880) 272; Fihrist al-
Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 2/29, 6/98.
20. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 477.
21. See Fihrist al-Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 7/24; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 555.
22. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 605–606; al-Maktabat al-Balad¯ ýya, Fihris al-Tawh .¯ ýd, 8; Fihris
al-Mantiq, 5; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 1, 314.
23. See Kah . h . ¯ ala, vol. 6, 231–232.
24. See al-Dhahab¯ ý, op. cit., vol. 13, 109; ibn Khallik¯ an, Ah .mad b. Muh . ammad, Wafy¯ at al-A‘y¯ an,
vol. 1 (Damascus: Tur¯ ath al-‘Arab¯ ýyya, 1978) 392; ibn Kath¯ ýr, Abu al-Fid¯ a’ al-H . ¯ a?z . , al-Bid¯ aya wa al-
Nih¯ aya, vol. 13 (Beirut: al-Maktaba al-Qas .r¯ ýya, 1964) 110; Y¯ a?‘¯ ý, Ab¯ u‘AbdAll¯ ah b. As‘ad, Mir’¯ at al-Jan¯ an
wa ‘Ibrat al-Yaqz . ¯ an, vol. 4 (Beirut: al-‘Uy¯ un, 1977) 3.
25. See H . ¯ aj¯ ýKhal¯ ýfa, Mus .t .¯ af¯ ab.‘AbdAll¯ ah, Kashf al-Z . un¯ un (Istanbul: S ¸erafet, 1957) 235, 558, 626,
26. See ibn H . ajar, Ah .mad b. ‘Al¯ ý, al-Durar al-K¯ amina, vol. 3 (Beirut. n.d.) 164; H . ¯ aj¯ ýKhal¯ ýfa, op.
cit., 1519; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 791.
27. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 812; idem, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 1, 309.
28. See Kah . h . ¯ ala, op. cit, vol. 8, 26, and the literature there.
29. Fihrist al-Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 4/96; al-Maktabat al-Balad¯ ýya, Fihris al-Nah .w, 41; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-
Makn¯ un, vol. 2, 531.
30. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 1, 833.
31. See H . ¯ aj¯ ýKhal¯ ýfa, Kashf al-Z . un¯ un, 1112; Fihrist al-Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 2/90; Fihris D¯ ar al-Kutub al-
Mis .r¯ ýya, 3/100–101; and al-Maktabat al-Balad¯ ýya, Fihris al-Adab, 7.
32. See Fihris D¯ ar al-Kutub al-Mis .r¯ ýya, 6/37.
33. See T . alas, Muh . ammad As‘ad, al-Kashsh¯ af ‘an Makht . ¯ ut . ¯ at Khaz¯ a’in al-Awq¯ af (Baghdad: Mak-
taba al-Awq¯ af, 1953) 243; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 1, 129, 257, 345, 423, 456, 617, and vol. 2, 113,
157, 168, 204, 367, 543; idem, Had¯ ýya, vol. 2, 342; Fihrist al-Khad¯ ýw¯ ýya, 3/224–225.
34. See al-Zarakl¯ ý, Khayr al-D¯ ýn, al-A‘l¯ am, vol. 6 (Beirut: Maktaba al-‘Ilm¯ ýyya, 1984) 269; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý,
¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 2, 131.
35. See al-Jabrat¯ ý, ‘Abd al-Rah .m¯ an, ‘Aj¯ a’ib al- ¯ Ath¯ ar, Ed. H . .Muh . ammad et al., (Cairo: Maktaba
Madb¯ ul¯ ý, 1959–1964). vol. 2, 61-68.
36. See Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 2, 425; Zayd¯ an, Jurj¯ ý, Ta’r¯ ýkh ¯ Ad¯ ab al-Lugha al-‘Arab¯ ýya,vol.3
(Beirut: al-Tur¯ ath, 1995) 325; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un,vol.2,44.
37. See ibn al-‘Im¯ ad, Ab¯ ýal-Fal¯ ah . ,‘Abdal-H . ayy, Shadhar¯ at al-Dhahab (Beirut: al-Maktaba al-Tij¯ ar¯ ý,
1981) vol. 7, 46–47; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya, vol. 2, 558.
38. See T . alas, op. cit., 133; Baghd¯ ad¯ ý, Had¯ ýya,vol.2,57;and idem, ¯ Id . ¯ ah . al-Makn¯ un, vol. 1, 130.
39. See ibn H . ajar, op. cit., vol. 1, 98.
Journal of Religious & Theological Information,
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1047-7845 print / 1528-6924 online
* * *
Encounter with Folklore
A Sôranî Folktale from Mukrî Kurdistan
by Mustafa Dehqan
Abstract: “Qisey Giranba” (The Valuable Remark) is one of the most
well-known folktales in present-day Mukrî Kurdistan, a stateless nation
in northwestern Iran. Unlike northern and southern Kurdistan—where
folktales are appreciated in written form—literature in Mukrî Kurdistan
is most popularly appreciated in its oral form and has not been widely
published. “Qisey Giranba” is a hekayet largely transmitted orally in the
region by elder beyt singers, but a total of three incomplete manuscripts
of the tale exist in personal libraries of Mukrî Kurds and a Persian ver-
sion of the text has been published in Tehran. This article presents a
complete transcription from the recorded performance by an old singer
in the region and translated into English in a style that remains as close
as possible to the original performance. The article presents the tale as
an example of the Mukrî Sôranî dialect and places the tale within the
context of the region’s contemporary culture as an example of central
The history and the literature of Kurdish tribes of Mukrî
Kurdistan (or Sawjbulagh, Kurdish Sablax) are best known from
Safawid times (1501–1722) onward.
Mukri Kurdistan is a strategic
area in the geographic heart of northwestern Iran. It is a district in
southwestern Adharbayjan that is to the south of Lake Urmiya and
the present-day city of Mehabad in Iranian Kurdistan.
As is the case
with most Kurdish stateless nations, estimates of the total number of
Mukrîs vary widely. Although there are no offcial censuses regarding
the number of Mukrî Kurds, most sources agree that today there are
more than four million. Almost all are Sunni Muslims, in contrast to
101102 Journal of Folklore Research Vol. 46, No. 1
their Azeri and Persian neighbors in Adharbayjan who are Shiites.
Mukrî Kurdistan is agriculturally rich with high-grade pasture lands
as well as large and fertile mountain valleys.
The literature of central Kurdistan, including Mukrî Kurdistan, is
perhaps best described as an oral form. Mukrî old men and women use
oral literature to preserve accounts of their history and descriptions of
their society, as well as to represent themselves and their past. Although
some historically important aspects of this literature (such as beyts).
not currently practiced in the region, in general oral literature is still
carefully preserved. A beyt is an orally transmitted story that is either
completely sung or performed using a combination of sung verse and
spoken prose. In central Kurdistan, Kurdish written literature is less
known and less appreciated than in northern and southern Kurdistan,
and we do not fnd the galaxy of literary men writing in Kurdish, such
as Elî Herîrî (1089–1110), Mele Ehmedê Bateyî (1417–1491), Mele
Ehmedê Cizîrî (1570–1640), Feqiyê Teyran (1590–1660), Ehmedê
Xanî (1651–1707), and others who were active in the southern parts
A few poets wrote in Kurdish in central Kurdistan, but
they were not well-known in their time.
Thus, while Kurdish written
literature fourished in northern and southern Kurdistan, Kurdish oral
literature was dominant in central Kurdistan. With the exception of
the Mukrî oral beyts, which Oskar Mann published in Kurdisch-persische
Forschungen in 1906),
and some other regional works,
oral folktales and beyts of Mukrî Kurdistan still remain unpublished
and untranslated into Western languages. This essay presents a Mukrî
hekayet, entitled “Qisey Giranba,” (The Valuable Remark), as an ex-
ample of a prose genre of Mukrî oral literature. The text contributes
to the understanding of the Mukrî dialect of Sôranî and the literature
of central Kurdistan.
The diffcult question of literacy sometimes arises in the study of Mukrî
oral literature. Some oral Mukrî tales now have written versions and
Mukrî Kurds have used these written versions to teach the tales to
their children. In other words, for some Mukrîs there are two kinds
of oral tale: an oral tale with no written version and an oral tale with a
written version. The former describes the Mukrî singers of beyts, who
claim that they merely repeated word-for-word what their fathers told Mustafa Dehqan Qisey Giranba 103
them. This style of transmission is purely oral and generally accepted
in Mukrî Kurdistan.
Oral tales that also have a written version are somewhat rare. Al-
though Kurdish tales and legends have most often been transmitted
orally, some scattered manuscripts of the tales also exist. The manu-
scripts are normally from the twentieth century, yet there are some
manuscripts dated as early as 1710. The author or scribe is not named
in the colophons of these manuscripts.
When I was student, my teacher sent me to the various parts of
Kurdistan for my dissertation research. Because of his interest in Mukrî
folklore, he wanted me to research Kurdish oral beyts. For some weeks
I stayed in a mountainous agricultural village, which was ffteen miles
from Mehabad in the center of Mukrî Kurdistan, and studied Mukrî
oral literature. Fortunately, during this time a friend of my cousin,
Salih Qadirî, adopted me. He was an illiterate, seventy-four-year-old
Mukrî beyt singer. While staying with him, I recorded an oral version
of “Qisey Giranba” and other folktales. Mr. Salih gave particularly
helpful interviews and other guidance during my feldwork. Most of
interviews with Mr. Salih took place during the summer of 2003 in
Mehabad and Sanandadj.
“Qisey Giranba” is considered to be in the class of folktales that has
two versions: an oral version and an incomplete written version. Ac-
cording to Mukrî informants, the tales were written in Mukrî Kurdistan
by unknown singers of beyts, after their audience requested that they
do so. According to elderly Mukrî informants, the written version of
“Qisey Giranba” is attributed to such an unknown early singer. To my
knowledge, there are a total of three incomplete manuscripts of the
written version of “Qisey Giranba” in the personal libraries of Mukrî
Kurds, including the version used in this essay.
Of all the interesting folktales in the Sôranî dialect of Mukrî Kurd-
that I have recorded, the most well-known in present-day Mukrî
Kurdistan is “Qisey Giranba.” It is even familiar to informants in its Az-
erî Turkish version.
For example, Abdulrehman, an illiterate Kurdish
informant, knew the Turkish version. An incomplete version of was also
published in Persian, in Tehran (Kalbasi:1983).
Many local people
know “Qisey Giranba” and it stands as a unique entity among the one
hundred short folktales I recorded. While the rest of the folktales are
no longer than a few lines or paragraphs, “Qisey Giranba” occupies
ten to ffteen paragraphs. I recorded the following oral version of from 104 Journal of Folklore Research Vol. 46, No. 1
Salih Qadirî without any alteration.
In this tale the narrator uses the
third person to report an old man’s advice, although different versions
of “Qisey Giranba” feature different characters.
For the Sôranî transcription of the folktale I use the Hawar system
which represents the Mukrî dialect of Mehabad (Sablax)
in which the folktale is narrated. I have tried to remain faithful to the
performance by preserving Mr. Salih’s pronunciation. The translation
is presented in a simple English style that remains as close as possible
to the Mukrî Sôranî words.
1. Carêkî sê pyawî Kurd bô kasbî deçne wulatêkî dûr. Çen salyan pê
deçêw, her yek le wan sî direman we dest dexen û geranewe bô
2. Zistan debê. Þewê rêyan de cêyêkî dekewê we le malêkî mîwan
debin. Zôr mandû debin. Dûyan xewyan lê kewt û yekyan herçî
hewlîda leber xem û nara÷etyan xewî lê nekewt. Hestaw çû kin
sa÷eb-maleke ke le tenîþt ‘awirgêkî danîþt bû.
3. Zôr dadenîþêw hîçyan qisan naken. ‘Ew car mîwaneke be sa÷eb-
malekey ke kabrayekî zôr pîr bû delê: “Mame!Bôçî qisan nakey?”
‘Ewîþ delê: “kesî Mamî!‘Emin qisey be pûlî dekem.” Delê: “qisey be
çendî?” Delê: “be de pûlan.” Tema÷ kabray heldegrêw. De pûlan
deda be kabray pîrew delê: “qisem bô bike.”
4. ‘Ewîþ delê: “kesî Mamî! Dinyaye ke zistan bû, befr le ‘erzî da bû,
rêt kewte cêyêkî we þewê lewê mayewe, sib÷eynê ke hestay, dîtit
xôþe hewrîþ be ‘asmanêwe nîye belam kizebayekî dê, ‘eger derîþyan
kirdî mebada derê kewî! ‘Ewende rawesta heta kizebayekey dexa.”13
‘Ewey kut û bê deng bû.
5. Kabra kutî: “Mame! Bôçî qisan nakey?” ‘Ewîþ cwabî da we kutî: “kesî
Mamî! ‘Emin qisan be pûlî dekem. De diremim deye ta qiset bô
bikem.” Dîsaneke tema÷ kabray girt û de pûlî dîkey da be pyawe
6. Kabray pîr diremekanî wergirt û kut: “kesî Mamî! Ta qiseyan lê
nepirsîwî le xô ra14
helmedeye.” ‘Ewey kut û bê deng bû. Kabra kutî:
“Mame pîre! Dîsan qisan bike.” ‘Ewîþ cwabî da we kutî: “kesî Mamî!
‘Emin hîç qiseyêkî bê pûl nakem. Pûlim deye ta qiset bô bikem.”
Kabra kutî: “nîme.” Kabray pîr cwabî dawe kutî: “‘eger waye15
birô! binû!.”Mustafa Dehqan Qisey Giranba 105
7. Kabra hestaw çû ser cêgakey û lêy nûst. Beyanî
hestaw çûne derê. Dîtyan befr de ‘erzî dayew bestûyetî, hewrêkîþ
be dyarewe nîye belam kizebayekî dê.
8. Kabra be hawrêkanî kut: “‘Emin nayem, ‘engôþ merôn!” Hawrêkanî
kutyan: “ba birôyn! Rôj lewey xôþtir nabê.” Kabra fkrêkî kird û
kutî: “‘emin ‘ew qiseyem be de pûlan kirîwe, degel ‘engô nayem.
‘Engôþ ke derôn meylî xôtane; ‘emin nayem!”
9. ‘Ewan rôyþtin. Pyaweke hate kinîw kutî: “kurim bôçî nerôyþtî?” ‘Ewîþ
kutî: Mame! Leber ‘ew qiseyey ke tô be de pûlanit be min frôþt.”
10. Zôrî pê neçû, hewrêkî hênaw befr daydaye. Pyaweke ÷ew þew û
÷ew rôjan lewê mawew. Rêgay lê gîra.
11. Rôjî heþtum hewa xôþî kird. ‘Ewîþ rôyþt. Hênde nerôyþt, dîtî
hawrêkanî le serma req helatûn û mirdûn. ‘Ewanî be xak ‘es-
pard û pûley ke pêyan bû le gîrfanî derênan û kutî: “wa çake bô
12. Þewî be ser da17
hat. Rêy de karwanserayêkî kewt. Lewê mawe.
Le nîwe þewê da hestû-xustû hat û hawarêk peyda bû. Dîtî çen
neferêk hatn û heryêkî kôlebarêkî qursyan pê bû. Karwansera-
çêke desbe-cê hestaw û rôyþt. Qefezeyêk ke le sûçî karwanserakey
bû kirdîewe we ‘ewanîþ be kôlebarewe çûne nêw qefezekeyewe.
Lepaþan karwanseraçêke qefezekey daxist û hate we ser cêgakey
xôy û lêy nûst.
13. Beyanî kabra çen swarêkî le dûrewe dî ke be ‘esle÷ewe rûyan de
karwanserakey kirdûwe we karwanserakeyan de mi÷asere na. Yêkêk
le wan hate jûrêw be karwanseraçîyekey kut: “çen neferêk dwênê-
þewê xezêney paþayan dizîwe. Þwênî pêy wanman ta ‘êre helgirtûwe.
‘El‘an kê hatûte ‘êre?” Karwanseraçêke kutî: “hîç nebûwe we hîç kes
nehatûte‘êre.” Swarekan zôr geran û hîçyan nedîtewe.
14. Lepaþan çawyan be kabray kewt û lewyan pirsî: “‘etô dwênê-þewê
çit dîw çit nedî?” ‘Ewîþ herçî ke dît bûy bô wanî gêrawe. ‘Ewanîþ
rôyþtn û qefezekeyan kirdewew kôlebarekan û zôr þitî dîkeþ ke
‘îdizêtî bûn deryan hêna.
15. Destî dizekan û karwanseraçîyeke bestn û degel kabray hemûyan
birdne kin paþay. ‘Ewey bibû bô paþayan gêrawe. Paþaþ ‘ewanî le
zindanê kird û pûlêkî zôrî da be kabray û ‘ewîþî ‘azad kird. 106 Journal of Folklore Research Vol. 46, No. 1
“The Valuable Remark”
1. At some time [in the past], three Kurdish men went into business
in a far away land. After some years, each of them obtained thirty
and started back to their own land.
2. It became winter. One night they arrived somewhere and stayed
at a home as guests. They got tired [from the long walk]. Two of
them fell asleep but one of them, because of sorrow and grief,
could not get to sleep no matter what he tried. He got up [and]
went to sit near the owner of house who was sitting by the side of
3. They sat [on the foor] a long time, neither of them speaking
[about anything]. Then, the guest said to the owner of house,
who was a very old man: “Uncle!
Why do you not speak?” He says:
“Uncle Dear! I speak for money.” [The man] said: “How much
does a remark cost?” [The old man] said: “Ten drachmas.” The
traveler was motivated by avarice. [He] gave ten drachmas to the
old man [and] said: “Talk to me.”
4. The old man said: “Uncle dear, when it is winter, [when] there is
snow on the ground, [when] your travels take you somewhere and
you stay the night there, when you wake in the morning and see
that there is not a cloud in the sky but a cold breeze is blowing,
[even] if they [wanted to] dismiss you, be careful that you do not
go out! Stay until the cold breeze stops.” The old man said this
and then kept silent.
5. The guest said “Uncle! Why you do not speak?” He answered [and]
said “Uncle dear! I speak for money. Give me ten drachmas so that
I will speak to you.” The man was motivated by avarice again and
gave another ten drachmas to the old man.
6. The old man obtained the drachmas and said “Uncle Dear! Do not
answer automatically unless you are questioned.” He said this and
kept silent. The guest said: “Old uncle! Talk [to me] again.” The
old man answered and said “Uncle Dear! I do not say any remark
without money. Give me money and then I will speak to you.” The
guest said: “I do not have [money].” The old man answered [and]
said: “If it is so, get up! Go! Sleep!” Mustafa Dehqan Qisey Giranba 107
7. The guest got up [and] went to his bed and slept. He woke with his
companions in the morning [and] went outside. They saw [that]
there was snow on the ground [and] it has frozen; there was not
a cloud [in the sky] but a cold breeze was blowing.
8. The man said to his companions “I will not go, you should not go
either!” His companions said “Let us go! There will not be a bet-
ter day than this.” The man thought [a moment] and said “I have
bought that remark [by paying] ten drachmas, [so] I will not come
with you. [If] you [want to] go, it is up to you; I will not go!”
9. They went. The [old] man came near [him] and said “My son, why
did not you go?” He replied “O uncle! [I did not go] because of that
remark which you sold to me for ten drachmas.”
10. It was not long [before] clouds appeared [and] it snowed. The man
stayed seven days and seven nights there. The way was closed to
11. The weather turned fne [on the] eighth day. He went then. He
did not go very far [before] he saw his companions who had frozen
to death. He buried them, brought out their money, and said “It
is good that I am able to take this for their children.”
12. It was night. He found his way to a caravanserai.
He stayed there.
There was noise and shouting at midnight. He saw some persons
come [to the caravanserai] each of them with a heavy knapsack.
The caravanserai-keeper immediately got up and left. He left the
[doors to the] shelves that were in the corner of the caravanserai
open and the persons went into them with their knapsacks. Then,
the caravanserai-keeper returned, closed the shelves, returned to
his bed and slept.
13. In the morning the man saw some armed horsemen in the distance
who moved towards the caravanserai and [fnally] blockaded it.
One of them came [into the caravanserai] and said to caravanserai-
keeper “Some persons have stolen the king’s treasury last night.
We followed their footprints here. Now who has come here?” The
caravanserai-keeper said “Nothing and no one has come here.”
The horsemen searched and saw nothing.
14. Then, they eyed the guest and asked him “What did you see and
what did you not see last night?” He told them whatever he had
seen. They went, opened the shelves, [and] brought out the knap-
sacks and a large number of other stolen goods.108 Journal of Folklore Research Vol. 46, No. 1
15. They tied the hands of thieves and caravanserai-keeper [together]
and carried all of them, including the guest, to the king. They told
[the story] to the king as it had [actually] happened. [Then], the
king imprisoned the caravanserai-keeper and thieves but gave a
large reward and released him [from captivity].
1. This research was funded by the Iran National Science Foundation. For the
history of these tribes, see Sharaf Khan’s description (1860–62: I, 280).
2. There is no complete work about the geography and cultural features of Mukrî
Kurdistan. The best works known to me are by Moritz Wagner (1852:100–02),
Baron Ernouf (1880:287–94), Eugène Aubin (1908:76–102), and ÷abib Allah
Tabani (1966). Vladimir Minorsky’s work provides a useful historical perspective
3. Amir Hassanpour’s useful article describes the subject matter of several beyts
(1990:11–12). The episode of the siege of Dumdum Qal‘a, located south of Urmiya
on the River Qasimlu, also became a favorite theme of later Mukrî heroic beyts
(Turkuman 1955:ii, 791–801; Blau 1858:584–98).
4. For more information about the life and the works of northern and south-
ern Kurdish writers, see, respectively, Alexandre Auguste Jaba (1860:12–14) and
Mu÷ammad ‘Ali Sul¡ani (2000).
5. For a discussion of central Kurdish writers see Siddîq Bôrekeî (1991) and
Mu÷ammad ßamadi (2005:636–50).
6. For details on Mukrî Kurds, see Oskar Mann’s Die Mundart der Mukri-
Kurden (1906). Although it is an important classic work on the Mukrî com-
munity, in my opinion it omits some important information and contains some
7. Some excellent works by local scholars of Sôranî oral literature in Mukrî
Kurdistan are available, including several publications by Fetahî Qazî (1956,
1969, 1972, 2005) and those by Mu÷ammad and Øasan Qa. di (1969:26–36), and
Hemîd Hiseynî (1976).
8. The best broad introductions to the Sôranî dialect of Mukrî Kurdistan are
Kurdskiy Dialekt Mukri (Eyyubi and Smirnova 1968), Fonetika Kurdskogo Yazika:
Dialekt Mukri (Smirnova and Eyyubi 1985), and Alessandro Coletti’s comparative
dictionary Grammatica e dizionario dela lingua curda (1984–85). For two other useful
discussions of Mukrî prefxes and suffxes, see ‘Abdul÷amid Øusayni’s publications
9. For valuable overviews of Kurdish engagement with Turkish literature in
Mukrî Kurdistan, see publications by Øusayn A÷madi (1949) and Tahir Pîr
10. For a discussion of the version of “Qisey Giranba” published in Persian, see
Guyish-i Kurdi-yi Mahabad by Iran Kalbasi (1983:97–103).Mustafa Dehqan Qisey Giranba 109
11. I recorded the folktale by audio recorder.
12. Full details of the Hawar system are given in Bedir Khan and Lescot’s Gram-
maire kurde (dialecte kurmandji) (1970).
13. The use of dexa is puzzling. The word probably refers to something related
to the infnitive xistin (to throw). Instead of dexa it is possible to read dexe, but
this meaning would be less rich.
14. Le xô ra or le xô ewe (automatically) is a popular Mukrî idiom that must be
learnt as a whole unit, although the formation includes preposition and postposi-
tion: le- and -ra. This idiom also means falsely or lie, as can be seen from the entry
quoted in (Hejar 1997:769).
15. The term waye (it is so) is not clear and I cannot interpret it. The same
phrase may occur in the other versions of “Qisey Giranba,” but the formation in
those cases is not clear.
16. Instead of beyanî (morning) in the present text, the other versions have here
sib÷eynê (morning). Beyanî or beyan are fairly uncommon terms in Mukrî Kurdis-
tan, which have a second meaning, of tomorrow (Hejar 1997:87).
17. For the different meanings of da, which is used extensively in Sôranî Kurd-
istan and in the Mukrî dialect, see Tawfq Wahby and Cecil John Edmonds’s A
Kurdish-English Dictionary (1966:30–31).
18. Direm (drachma) may mean almost the same thing as its synonym pûl (money)
in this text (paragraphs 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 15). Therefore, drachma may be un-
derstood as a unit of money, rather than as the historical Greek drachma.
19. The Mukrî storytellers use the honorifc uncle, especially before a frst name,
to address or refer to a wise man in folktales. In this context the word uncle is
best understood as one who helps, although in this case the term is not preceded
by a personal name.
20. Caravanserai is originally a Persian word that means an inn surrounding a
court in eastern countries where caravans rest at night.
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MUSTAFA DEHQAN is independent scholar in Iranian Kurdistan. He
earned his bachelor’s degree in history and his M.A. in historical lin-
guistics from the University of Tehran. He is the author of numerous
journal articles and conference papers. (mustafadehqan@ yahoo.com)
Foundation For Kurdish Library & Museum