Meet Some of the Rare Cultures Sustained by Iraqi Kurdistan’s Rivers

July 15, 2013, National Geographic Newswatch

A mosaic of religious and ethnic minorities thrive in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.

Yazidis have lived here for millennia. A monotheistic faith with Sufi and Zoroastrian elements, Yazidis claim theirs is the world’s oldest religion. After God, they venerate an angel king who takes the form of a peacock.

“When Yazidi clergymen perform rites in this area,” says Sheikh Rasho Rasho Hussein, keeper of a Yazidi temple in the Kurdish town of Khanka Kavin, along the shores of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River.

“They bring peacocks as a symbol of the religion. When they bring the peacock, people give offerings to the peacock. And when there are disputes, they solve them.”

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