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Land of Stone and Mystics

Oraman is an isolated village in Kurdistan near the border of Iraq. Its history goes back more than a thousand years ago, when it is believed that the Aryans came to settle there. It nestles amongst the rocks of the surrounding mountains and until about fifty years ago it did not have a single road connecting it to the outside world. This has led to a culture of self-sufficiency, practiced here long before this expression was coined. For centuries the people have been wearing the cloth they weave and eating the food they produce.

But Oraman’s main feature is the stone which literally encircles the village. It provides an infinite source of material and is almost sacred. Here everything is made of stone, from houses to mills, garden walls and livestock pens. Its distinctive style of architecture follows an overlapping pattern, with every roof serving as a small courtyard for the house above.

Another major feature of Oraman is its traditional ceremonies and rituals. Because of its seclusion throughout centuries, the village had provided a safe haven for the followers of Sufi orders who were able to practice their faith freely and openly here. The colourful, and at times musical, ceremonies are rooted in the rituals and ancient traditions attached to these Sufi orders.

The biggest ceremony is called the wedding of Pir Shaliar, named after a legendary spiritual leader. According to legend, he healed the daughter of the ruler of Bukhara who was suffering from an apparently incurable disease. He subsequently marries her and this event is celebrated every year with a great feast and dervishes chanting and moving to the sound of the daf.

This multimedia report invites us to visit this ancient village and take part in its fascinating ceremonies. Oraman Council member, Bashir Ghassemi guides us through this historic village.

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