Symbols of survival

The main pattern on this carpet represents the ‘tree of life’, which is framed by a comb symbolising protection of marriage and birth. The star represents protection against wolves.
Image: David Loram
Source: David Loram

One of the most powerful ways that Kurdish culture is maintained is through the language of symbols embodied in tattoos and handcrafts. Some of these symbols reach back to the very beginning of our history. The symbols are our ancient written language, and every design carries meaning.

The symbols have changed very little over time. Some are tribal and have been handed down from community elders. Many are intended to ward off bad luck, or else to attract happiness and prosperity. Many of them are taken from nature and are stylised versions of animals, trees and stars. Symbols have also historically held special significance in Kurdish religions.

Most of the designs are simple forms, easy to reproduce, but they carry complex meanings that have survived for thousands of years. They are the oldest source of our history, a history that otherwise would have been lost.

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