Dervishes of Kurdistan

[dervishes-of-kurdistan--Film-list-image]
© Moser
52 minutes / Colour / 1973
Directed by
Brian Moser

Anthropologist Ali Bulookbashi André Singer

Country of production United Kingdom

Series Disappearing World Series

A community of Kurds resident in Iran on the border with Iraq forms the subject of this film. Many of the inhabitants of the community are refugees from Kurdish areas of Iraq and the villagers are Qadiri Dervishes – followers of an ecstatic mystical cult of Islam. The unusual manifestations of the Qadiri Dervish faith are explored in this film, both in the context of religious ceremonies and everyday life, with the main focus on the spiritual and temporal power wielded by their leader, Sheikh Hussein. For the Dervishes, Hussein is the direct representative of Allah and, therefore, by serving the Sheikh they are also serving God. In rituals presided over by him they have the power to carry out acts which would normally be harmful, such as having electricity passed through their bodies, eating glass, handling poisonous snakes and skewering their faces. The film includes interviews, not only with members of the cult, but also with the local mullah (representative of orthodox Islam), in an attempt to explore the difference between those two manifestations of the same faith. The film is visually compelling, especially the sequences showing religious celebration and ceremony.

Language and subtitles English (no subtitles)

Region Middle and Near East

Country Iran

Keywords Refugees / Displaced populations Religion / Belief / Faith