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.

January 23, 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”. ...

January 11, 2021

“I have been working in this shop for 60 years. I first started in 1960, and spent most of my days here. I raised three children doing this job. We used to work a lot in the past, we used to work day and night and still couldn't meet people's demands, but no one uses hats nowadays. There used to be many people who made hats in Diyar Bakr, but now it's just me, and I can't continue and will stop after a short while. Then, there will be no one else that makes hats. These hats used to be a part of our culture, nowadays only senior people wear them, young people don't really know much about it. There are many things that are fading away same as this, and I'm afraid that this will, too. I would've loved my kids to learn this job, but they are busy with their lives now. A big part of our culture is vanishing and will be erased from our memories”. ...

January 6, 2021

“Along with three friends of mine, we survived the Roboski Massacre in 2011. That night, it was about 3 or 4 in the morning, we rode our horses and went to the border, and when we arrived the roads were open without the existence of any soldiers. We crossed the border, loaded gasoline and went back to Turkey. While we were going back, we heard a loud bang, and on the border, we reached a village, and no one said whether we should go or not. The villagers there did not warn us about the number of soldiers that were planted there and that the place was surrounded. We waited for a while, and then I rode my horse and went ahead a bit, and at that moment there was a bright flash and the airstrikes began. I fell off, and so I hid myself beneath the snow, when I was conscious again, I saw my friends teared apart. I called to the people of the village and they came to my rescue. I will never forget the moment where the flashes of the airstrike hit my eyes. Where do you reckon they will strike this time? Everytime I pass that cemetery, I feel like we had just buried those 34 bodies”. ...

January 4, 2020

I quitted my job six years ago and I became a traveler. I was traveling city to city, village to village. So far, I have visited 81 cities in Turkey, and about ten thousand villages. Four years ago, I visited several villages that had nothing for kids to entertain themselves. I thought about what I could do when I left. I stated making bracelets and tizbehs, and traded them for toys for the kids. Whoever gave me five toys, I gave them a bracelet, and if someone had given me 50 toys, I would have given them an expensive tizbeh. It was similar to a campaign, I collected about 12,000 toys and gave them to kids in the villages. Since I was traveling to almost everywhere, I wanted my traveling to have a meaning, and that's why I started the campaign. I hope all other travelers take toys with them when they visit the villages to give to kids. When you see the delight in their faces when you give them the toys means everything in the world ...

December 28, 2020

“I started this job in 1960, I had an Armenian man working for me. The leather we use for making shoes is bull's leather, I also use 2 or 3 years of age cow's leather, too. Big Bull's skin is usually used for the bottom of the shoes because it's a dry skin. We make some shoes out of goat's skin as well. When I was young, I was making eight pairs of shoes in a day, but now I can only make one or two pairs. Forty years ago, in Amed, there were about 100 to 150 shops doing what we do, there are now about 10. Anyone who personally knows me, or knows the value of handmade shoes will buy their shoes here. People with special needs or people who have big feet will need handmade shoes. However, people now buy shoes and only look at the brands regardless if they are good or bad quality, but handmade shoes are very comfortable. I hope more people buy these shoes because this is a part of our history and we have to continue doing it”. ...

December 19, 2020

“I'm an Arts college graduate from Van university, and I do sculpt. After graduation, I started sculpting, and after a while I opened my own shop. I have been working and teaching others for six years. People are more into arts nowadays, I have students who are young, I also have students who are seventy years old. Young people are a bit strange these days, they see a piece of art and immediately want to start learning, they have no patience. Arts can become a language to express yourself. To know yourself better, arts can be very important as a language. Humans can express all of their feelings in the form of arts”. ...

December 2, 2020

“Unfortunately, the killing of women and violence against women rise in numbers every day. The names and stories of those women will be forgotten, but they each had different stories, hopes and dreams. I work so those stories are not forgotten. My work is called "The Forgotten" I started on February 7, and whenever a woman is killed, I add them to my list. many of which are killed by their husbands. It really upsets me that those women's lives and dreams are taken away altogether. I have chosen this design, because it needs a lot of effort, and it's an indication for women's struggle.” ...

November 24, 2020

“I was only seven when I started learning to work on copper from my father, I really liked it. When I used to go back home from school, I used to go immediately to worm with my father. He taught me everything, and I didn't stop after he was gone. We used you make designs on plates of copper, glass, iron and wood. For me, Shahmaran designs looks the best, and I started with Shahmaran as well when I first learned designing. Shahmaran is particularly important among women, when they were getting married, they used to draw Shahmaran on their heads for good luck. There used to be Shahmaran designs on doors and walls, but it doesn't exist as much anymore. Through my work, I try to put life to Shahmaran again, by designing it on copper, glass, iron, rocks and wood. What we do is slowly dying day by day, but I have taught my children to do the same work, and my son works with me as well. I hope this work continues and doesn't die out.” ...

November 10, 2020

“I have nine kids and they all live in Istanbul. My husband and I live in a village alone. My husband has cancer and is getting treatment, he has to go to the hospital every month. All of the responsibilities fall on my shoulders, I have been working since I was a kid and I have never felt tired. My kids have left one by one to Istanbul to work because there aren't a lot of work in the village, there is only farming. They are all far away and we talk by phone, they come back from time to time and then leave again. I would have preferred that all of my kids were living with me, but there is no chance. Life for an old woman can be very hard.” ...

November 8, 2020

“I was a lecturer for 23 years, but I was expelled because of a political decision. I used to work on animals and the nature, so when I was expelled, I went back to that. Five years ago, a woman brought me wheat seeds, I have been planting wheat for four years and I have five different variations now. My aim is to increase variation from natural seeds. Many farmers use artificial seeds now, even though you can harvest a lot more from it, but it can damage the land, it could even be bad for our health, and it doesn't taste very good. This is why we try to increase production and use of locally produced goods, and later to distribute them among local farmers. We want every farmer to use local products so the land is not damaged.” ...

November 5, 2020

“We used to live in the village, we moved to Mardin in 1992 and we live here now. Our land and farm are still in the village and we visit back every weekend to take care of them. We used to do every work before coming to the city, but now we have no jobs in Mardin, and we cannot visit our village and come back every day. We used to start working from sunrise until noon, and take a rest under tree shadows, then go home and prepare dinner. We used to prepare milk for dairy products and made loads of bread, turning the house upside down and then clean it all over again, and later on bring water from the river. We never rested, and never felt pain or illness. There is more time to rest now, but there is also as much illnesses.” ...