The Qawals: sa­cred Yazidi mu­si­cians

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

Yazidi rit­u­als and fes­ti­vals are per­formed in their vil­lages by spe­cial teams of mu­si­cians called qawals. The qawals, re­li­gious men who in­herit their sta­tus from their grand­par­ents, live in dif­fer­ent parts of Kur­dis­tan—in Bashik and Bahzan, and other vil­lages like Shikhan and Baadre to the north of Mo­sul. Qawals spe­cial­ize in en­liven­ing rit­u­als and fes­ti­vals through with speeches and hymns. Their chief is called the Mazne Qawala, and is one of the high-rank­ing re­li­gious men con­sulted by Baba Shekh (the head of the Yazidis) on Yazidi af­fairs. The qawals take the San­jak, which sym­bol­izes the ta­woos melek, the Tazidi pea­cock an­gel, from one Yazidi vil­lage to another once a year. Ac­cord­ing to Yazidi mythol­ogy, there are seven San­jaks which can only be erected if a spe­cial group of the sa­cred mu­si­cians is play­ing along­side them. When qawals visit Yazidi vil­lages, they play the tam­bour and the clar­inet, spe­cial kinds of re­li­gious in­stru­ment, sur­rounded by men, women, chil­dren and sheikhs cel­e­brat­ing all around them. The mu­si­cal in­stru­ments are kissed by the cel­e­brants, who touch the in­stru­ment then put their hand on their mouths dur­ing rit­u­als. The rea­son the San­jak is taken to Yazidi vil­lages is to re­mind the Yazidis of their re­li­gion and rit­u­als to keep them im­mune from other re­li­gions. When qawals visit Yazidi vil­lages, they be­gin by giv­ing ad­vice and in­struc­tions to peo­ple about re­li­gion. When they fin­ish, each house bring food and serves it to qawals, ev­ery­one bring­ing what they can to the ban­quet: some slaugh­ter sheep and oth­ers slaugh­ter chick­ens. Ev­ery qawal is obliged to at­tend the tem­ple at Lal­ish with their fam­i­lies af­ter the Yazidi feast fin­ishes in or­der to clean the tem­ple. They also pick the olives whose oil is used in the lamps and can­dles ev­ery Fri­day and Wed­nes­day night and on feast days. Qawals need to be from a re­li­gious fam­ily and be fa­mil­iar with re­li­gious texts and sto­ries about the cre­ation of the world and Man; they must also shave their beards and mus­taches ac­cord­ing to the sect's rules. "I am very happy when the qawals visit our vil­lages; when they ar­rive, I know they will pro­vide us with much use­ful in­for­ma­tion about re­li­gion”, says Da­ham Ali.

Qawals per­form­ing rit­u­als in a Yazidi vil­lage (

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