E. S. Drower
Butler & Tanner
Perhaps none of the minorities ot ’Iraq has caused more curiosity than the people called Yazidis, owing to their secret cult of the Peacock Angel, whom Moslem neighbours assert to be none other than Lucifer himself, Prince of all Evil.
This book describes the life of these mountain tribesmen, as seen in a Yazidi village, the priests of the cult, the dramatic Spring festival, and the hill sanctuary of Shaikh ’Adi. Few travellers have honoured this shrine, famous because of its sculptured black snake, with more than a passing visit. Here, however, we have an intimate description of the daily life of its guardians and of their devotional exercises (and a careful noting of the many sub-shrines housed by the holy valley), also something about the white ladies who live there a cloistered existence like Christian nuns, vowed to celibacy and going barefoot even in the depth of winter. These gentle ladies, whose asceticism does not forbid the smoking of cigarettes, were the author’s hostesses.
Other books have been written about these so-called devil-worshippers; but Lady Drower, while not pretending to unveil the secret of a religion which still remains hidden, gives a sympathetic picture of a strange and likeable people, and of a state of society at once primitive and self-sufficing. As described here, this holy valley is not only a sanctuary which is the Mecca of every Yazidi, but a place of rare beauty and peace.