Humans of Kurdistan
The "Humans Of Kurdistan" project aims to present the cultural diversity of the country. A look at the faces but also the stories that lie behind each of them.

March 23, 2022

“I have been working as a blacksmith for 52 years. I began when I was 10 and I am still working. I started in 1969. For 9 years I worked under the supervision of my employer. In 1978, I opened my own factory. In those years, people engaged their children in such works. When we moved from the village to the city, my father brought me to a blacksmith. His name was Ismail. My father handed me over to him and said ‘my son is entrusted to God and entrusted to you’. May God be pleased with him, he loved me very much and taught me blacksmithing. Our work used to be very difficult but the money was good. Our workload decreased by 90 percent after technology advanced and the machines came out. I make axes and billhooks. Mainly villagers around the city are purchasing them. The most important thing of the job is putting the iron in water. Each blacksmith has their own way, some use oil and some use water. I use water. If you don't use water then it is not iron. Each iron goes into the fire 11 times and then we make axes and billhooks. We had 4 employees but due to the economic situation we are now 3 people. That's ...

May 8, 2022

“I have been doing shoe repair work for 35 years. I have ten children who I have raised with this job. I have been repairing shoes since my childhood. There used to be many shoe repair workshops, but now 3-4 workshops remain and a few of the old shoe repairers. We did not have such a machine before; we worked by hand. There were needles, threads, nails, hammers but nothing else. Now the technical conditions are better, but there is no work. Today, one does not bring their shoes here and does not repair them for 15 lira. At that time, people were coming from the village, and there were work. There was no machine, but we had more workload. Things are fine now, but sometimes we wait until the evening and still receive no customers. Twenty years ago, our work was excellent, but in recent years it has decreased. I was going to close my workshop. However, after the economic crisis, the price of shoes increased a lot. Since shoes are so expensive now, residents repair their old ones. Our work is on the road to recovery. Many professions have been lost in history. The shoe repair business was also on the verge of extinction. However, now our profession is certainly getting a lot of attention because of the economic crisis”. ...

June 1, 2022

“When I was young, I was very interested in culture and art. I was drawing, and my teachers were kind to me and were interested in what I was doing. I also gave way to my friend in this art. Personally, I couldn’t continue because of the difficulties of that time. We moved to Mersin and worked as a cartoonist there. Then I came to Mardin and started working with stones. Later in life, I couldn’t work on stones anymore when I got old, so I started carving. I have been doing this for ten years now. When I paint, I try to get to know the culture of Mesopotamia and the Kurds. I made about 200 artworks on Sumer, Assyria, and Medan, such as Ahura Mazda, Shahmaran, Ziha of the Euphrates and Tigris, Dawrêşê Evdî, and Edûl. I still continually work on portraits. I also made portraits of many renowned Kurdish figures. From Eyşe Şan to Mela Mustafa Barzani, I painted many artworks on textiles. Moreover, I am inspired by Kurdish culture; I show this through my art. Besides, I also teach; my door is open to anyone who wants to learn”. ...

July 24, 2022

“I am a graduate of Dicle University, department of elementary education. Since I never got employed, I opened a workshop and named it “Şewl û Xaraw.” At my workshop, I dry flowers and make them into paintings. At first, I was doing this work at home, but then I decided to open a workshop. This art is also like therapy for me. When I work, my body eases, and bad thoughts leave my mind. At first, I go to collect flowers from the wild. After I bring them home, I put them between book pages. They dehydrate, and I collect them all together. It is complicated work and requires patience. They should not absorb moisture from the air and must be kept in a dry place. Once the flowers dry, I take them to the workshop, and we think about how to make these flowers into paintings. Then, we design the flowers and put them into frames. Everything we do here is natural; we don’t use any chemicals in the process of drying the flowers. Moreover, we do not use adhesives either”. ...

March 2, 2022

“The main work in our village is animal husbandry and there are about 20 thousand small and large animals. Stock raising is getting harder and harder. When it snows a lot during winters, the roads get blocked and we cannot leave the village. The roads remain closed for months. Our biggest problem is water. The village does not have drinking water. We get this water from wells. During winter, the water freezes and we cannot use it. We can melt snow for our needs but our animals die in thirst. So far; four of my animals have died due to lack of water. Just as how human beings cannot live without water, neither can animals. Every year we face this problem. In the summer the water dries up, so in the spring we take the animals to the towns of the Sarhad region and stay in the mountains there until autumn and then return to the village. Living in the countryside and stock raising are very difficult now. Due to these difficulties many villagers are moving to the cities. We have no choice”. ...

February 13, 2022

“I study for a PhD in Ardahan University. My PhD thesis is on the culture of nomadic tribes. I work on the nomadic tribes of Elikan, Duderan, and Soran. I live and migrate with them from city to city. I stay with them in tents in different mountains. This year, I spent all my time with them and only went home three times. In the beginning I found it very difficult because I came from the city, but now I’m getting used to it. They see me as their daughter and I see them as my family. Now we will move from Sirnak to Serhed, which is a 2 month-long trip. I witnessed a lot of their problems. Villagers who live in the village ask for a lot of money. They face a lot of hardship and difficulties because there is no defined route of migration. To resolve these problems, I prepared a report and informed the authorities to resolve them”. ...

January 23, 2022

“There used to be many water wells in our village. Our forefathers also did peace work. After them we started. 50 years ago, we brought water to ash and we continued this work. For the past 35 years we have been building on the water tap. Everything we do is natural. The corners here are free of fertilizer. We open them here, wash them and fry them on the fire. With the power of water, we also make tea. There is nothing to do with electricity here. Everything is natural. Things that existed before and were good for human health are just that. We raised 14 children with this job. We make up to 120 pounds a day and sell it for 35 pounds a kilo. Those who receive from us are very pleased. "Because it is close to the Xebur gate, people who go to the border gate leave from here." ...

January 12, 2022

“I have been a band seller for 45 years. This job was left to my father. Mi ordered the music. There used to be a lot of interest but now no one is showing interest. Everything has gone digital. I see my childhood and my whole life in this work. My factory is small but so far, I have archived about 20 thousand bands. From local artists to famous artists and artists whose names have been forgotten, the band has everything in my archive. They are amazed when artists come to my workshop and see their band. Because they too have forgotten their bands and have nothing in their hands. Ever since I started this business, I have always been selling a band or even picking it up for my archive. If a band is left in my hand to give me a worldly home, I will not sell it. Because I gave the order to this work and it means a lot to me. They come from many countries and receive bands from me. Some want 10, some 20 bands. I really want to sell the band to people who know their value. "Because ignorant people listen once and then drop it." ...

July 3, 2021

“When people visit Mardin, they spot kites in the sky. Flying kites has become a culture in Mardin. There are always kites in the skies of Mardin. As the youth of Mardin, I would like to resume this culture and further introduce it. Flying kites is every child’s cherished dream, mine as well; I made my first ever from nylon and hovered it. I am now fulfilling my childhood dream. I have visited 26 countries and participated in international festivals. When I participated, I was enlightened to Mesopotamian culture. I wish every child could fly kites. I have launched workshops and have taught 10,000 children so far”. ...

January 24, 2021

“I have been fishing in the Tigris since I was a kid, I have spent my childhood on this river. A lot has changed now, we used to sell fish on the river, there was a lot of it, we used to sell about 150 kilos of all kinds, but it's not the same anymore. The Tigris is now polluted, there is a dam built here to water the farmlands, but they do it without proper knowledge and it pollutes the water. Tigris used to be very clean, but now the variety has lessened. Nowadays, I catch about 10 kilos or less, because of the dam, the water has many fluctuations and the fish leave the river and go somewhere else. We want the Tigris to be a natural river without any human interference”. ...

January 22, 2021

“There was dam built in our village in 2010, and after it collected some water, our houses and lands were all flooded. We also have land on the other side of the dam, but even the way to the other side was flooded. The distance to our village had increased about 20 to 30 kilometers so we couldn't visit our farmland easily. While they were building the dam, we didn't say anything because we were expecting them to build a bridge as well. However, the way is now cut off, and some of our land is on this side while the rest is on the other side, our village has been separated into two parts. Our attempts to convince the people in charge was useless. Just to be able to travel across our village, we bought a boat in Ezmir. Students, farmers, and patients now can travel using this boat. It can carry 69 people each fair, they told us that it can even go under water, but we haven't tried that yet”. ...

January 20, 2021

“I have been doing art work for a long time, and now I'm a teacher. I started first by drawing, and then started teaching sculpting from metals and wire. I now create portraits using wires. I made 18 sculptures about a year ago, I get a very distinctive feeling while sculpting with wires, they are truly valuable for me. Wires are a part of my art, I shape them and turn them into art. I look at the wires and imagine the model, then sketch it on a paper and start creating. At a first glance, you might think that they are drawings on the wall, but once you lean forward you can see that they are all wires, the sculptures are not real, but they give you the feeling that they are. Working with wires are not very familiar here, some people believe that it's my own invention, but it's not. This art is widely known in Europe”. ...