Yezidism - Its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition

Author: Kreyenbroek, Philip
The Yezidi faith has fascinated and tantalized Western scholars since the mid-nineteenth centuries, but actual knowledge of the Yezidi tradition has remained limited. Recently a substantial corpus of Yezidi sacred Hymns has come to light, which had always been transmitted orally, and did not exist in written form until the late 1970s. These texts offered a more detailed insight into the beliefs, observances, and background of the faith. The first half of this volume re-examines the findings of earlier works on Yezidism in the light of the author's field-work with the Yezidi community of Northern Iraq, and of novel insights into the history of the religions of Iranian peoples. The second part consists of text and translations of nineteen Yezidi Hymns, with a commentary on points of philological and theological interest.


“. . . Philip Kreyenbroek’s book is a unique resource, and is undoubtedly the most important work ever to appear on the subject. The first of its two parts contains six extraordinarily well documented chapters: ‘Perceptions of Yezidism’; ‘The Early History: Factual and Legendary Accounts’; ‘The Religious Background’; ‘Worship, Shrines, and Holy Beings,’ with an appendix entitled ‘A Survey of Prominent Yezidi Holy Beings’; ‘Social Organization: Titles, Groups, and Functions’; and ‘Some Beliefs Observances, and Customs.’ The second part of the book consists of original Kurdish texts and excellent translations of Yezidi prayers and qewls, each with textual notes and commentary. Finally, there is an extensive, up-to-date bibliography, and a comprehensive index. . . .Dr. Kreyenbroek has produced a work of exemplary scholarship that is destined to occupy a major place in the field of Iranic studies. His book should be in the library of everyone interested in comparative religion, Zoroastrian and Iranian religious history, Kurdology, Islam, Sufism, and esoterism in general.” – Arcana

“Kreyenbroek’s book is a welcome contribution to the study of the religion of Yazidi Kurds, which has been long neglected. A useful reference work on the community, it is descriptive, informative, carefully researched and clearly laid out, although at times excessively detailed. It constitutes an essential reference for undertaking further studies on Yazidism. Moreover, it is particularly useful for scholars and students interest in religious syncretism, doctrinal dissidence and orality as linked to the transmission of religious tradition in Kurdistan, and more generally in the Middle East. . . . Further, Kreyenbroek presents the reader with an intelligent critique of earlier views on Yazidism as provided by nineteenth and early twentieth-century observers of the community among scholars, travellers and journalists.” – British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies