Most of us and most of things have a symbol representing us/them. From persons and soccerteams to countries and ethnic groups to political organizations. A national symbol is something which in a way represents the nations culture, history, geographical surroundings, lifestyle or mentality.
And just as any other nation, ethnic group or land in the world the Kurds and Kurdistan have their symbols; national animals, flowers, landmarks and important persons that have fused their national unity.
I will starting from now - each day, focus on a new Kurdish national symbol. Today I have decided to start with perhaps one of the most profiled of the Kurdish symbols - Kew, or the Red-legged Partridge as it is refered to in English.
Red-legged Partridge - Kew
"Red-legged partridge with scientific name "Alectoris rufa" calls "Kew", "Kev","Kewk", "Kevî", and "Kevkî" in Kurdish.
These birds are found in various parts of Kurdistan; and are common in Germany, France, and Italy; the islands of Madeira, Guernsey and Jersey; but the accounts of their breeding in England, are contradictory. In a wild state, they prefer woody and heathy wastes, to in closed ground, but they are easily tamed, and soon become offensively familiar. "
Taken from Kurdistanica at:
What Hunting in Oregon says about the Partridge:
"The introduced chukar partridge has become established and is presently one of the most popular and abundant upland game bird species in Oregon. Releases of game farm birds began in 1951 and most suitable habitat has been stocked since that date.
Chukars are native to the Middle East and southern Asia, the Oregon stock originating in India. The birds prefer grasslands areas with sagebrush or other low shrubs present for loafing and escape cover. Steep talus slopes, low rainfall, and a source of water are other requirements."
Aren't they cute? =D
Kurdish Kew - it's symbolic meaning...
The interesting thing about this bird is that it has repeatedly been used in Kurdish movies, books, arts etc. Mostly the Kew is like the pigeon seen as a symbol of freedom. For instance in Yilmaz Güneys film "Yol"("Road" in Turkish) - we meet a among others, a Kurd who has just been released from prison and on his way home by train he sits in his cabine with a Kew in a cage. Symbolically he has his passport and papers for his release in the Kews cage - and when a conducter comes to ask him for his papers; he seems to have forgotten that he put his passport and papers in the cage. Consequently he is sent back to prison...
I have thought about that and now seem to think it is an analogy of Kurdish history in general. The Kurd, trusting that his identity will be his freedom. Cause that is what this Kurd did - he put his papers inside the Kews(symbolic for "freedom") cage. And thus he became an easy pray of the Turkish jandarma (military police). Likewise Kurds have always been too trusting of their ancient and profound identity, expecting it to provide them with legitimacy for statehood...
Another and much older symbolic use of the Kew in Kurdish culture is the great Mem û Zîn, a Kurdish lovestory written by Ehmedê Xanî(1651-1707). Here the Kew is symbolic for freedom as well, when Mem is in prison as a result of his love for Zîn.
The Kew is also frequently used in paintings, embroidments and other handycrafts. A painting comes to mind; one dipicting a dead Kew as a reminder of the Genocide of the Southern Kurds under the Al-Anfal campaign of Saddam Hussain.
And now on Iraqi-Kurdistan stamps: