Daughters of Allah: Among Moslem Women in Kurdistan
Henny Harald Hansen
George Allen & Unwin Ltd
In 1957 the author was invited to take part in an archaeological expedition to the site of the projected Dokan Dam on the Little Zab river in Northern Iraq. Her responsibilities were ethnological, but instead of settling down with the expedition and visiting the Kurdish villages from the camp, she became the guest first of a local sheik and later of her interpreter's family. As a result, the doors of many Kurdish homes were opened to her that normally would have remained closed to foreigners, especially to a non-Moslem woman. She travelled widely among the mountain villages of Iraqi Kurdistan and was able to see from very close range the everyday life of the women of this strange and ancient race. It is very much a woman's view, of course, but few have had such an opportunity as this to penetrate the invisible wall which in a Moslem community divides the female world from the male.
The Kurds have inhabited since antiquity roughly the same region as they occupy today; even in 400 B.c., returning from Babylon, Xenophon and his Greeks had to battle with the Kurdish ancestors. They have been subject to frequently changing foreign rule and today their lands lie within the frontiers of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran and the U.S.S.R. Recent unrest among the tribes and the news of bands of Kurdish refugees on the move has centred interest on a people of whom the public knows little, but of whom Henny Hansen has much to tell that is intimate and fascinating.