The Role of Women in the Jaff Tribe
The Role of Women in the Jaff Tribe

Basil Nikitin in his book, Kurds and Kurdistan, says, “ Women in all peoples represent the identity and the moral characteristics of the people”. Minoriski believes that the Kurds in this regard, are more civilized and liberal than the rest of the Muslim people. The Jaff women belong to this category. There is no doubt that women of this tribe do hard and heavy duty works, such as loading and unloading of goods on animals, bringing water from wells and rivers, go to the mountainous areas to milk the animals, collecting woods, plus the other normal house work and carpet making, of which the Jaff carpets is genuine and sought after. Mothers carry their children on their backs tie with a wide strap made of cloth. Due to such heavy works, they acquire special strength, and capable of horse riding, competing with men in this; added to that, they join the men’s the gathering, participating in the general discussions with them.

The English orientalist Major Soan says “ that women from the Jaff tribe used to receive me in the absence of their husbands, conversant with me joyfully and treat me generously bring food and laban (yoghort), and they did not leave me by myself out of respect, till their husbands return from work. There is no separation between the young men and women of the tribe, intimately knowing each other, and famous for their decency and good manners. Marriage has special arrangements, accompanied with gaiety and romance. Some women became leaders of the tribe, who had control of all affairs in their hands. One of those who ruled the tribe in1014 in the town of Halabcha, near Sulaimania, was Adelah Khatoon the wife of Othman Pasha, leader of the tribe, during his absence. I had several meetings with this noble lady who ruled that district. Major San remained in the palace of the Pasha as a traveling salesman, and wrote extensively about this woman, her authority and conduct in ruling. All this did not stop her from being a feminine that liked to buy fabrics and perfumes, and caring for her house too. On one occasion she came to visit our place of residence with her entourage and women helpers; we requested to be photographed with her, which she gracefully consented. She sent food and drinks with her servants; and always asked the right questions. The Jaff women contributed richly to Kurdish poetry, heritage, and culture taking big steps in this regard; and some were like stars shining in Kurdish literature, matching their fellowmen and playing vital part in the expansion of the heritage and art, and also in the social and political sphere. For hundred of years, we learnt of poetry and essays in the Kurdish language. It is a fact that in the past women were deprived of basic rights pf learning and freedom, although Islam put no boundaries between educating men and women, and glorifying women that heavens is at their feet. No historians or researchers wrote about women of this tribe, given the fact that fragments of their poetry remained and treasured in the memory of the Kurdish literature, despite the hardship, which they faced in their lives. Among the famous poets Leza Khanum Jaff in the 5th hijri century, and Nerjis Shahrazori of 713h.

Adila khanum Othman Pasha' s wife

Adilah Khanom with Mrs. Soan - Halabjah

Adelah Khanum with the British commander in Iraq

Jaff Tribe

By Dr.Sarwat Jaff
jaffsarwat@yahoo.com jaff.sarwat@gmail.com