Mem u Zin

   Composed in Kurdish by Ahmad-i Khani in 1695, Mem u Zin is universally considered to be the Kurdish national epic because its introductory parts contain an obvious reference to Kurdish nationalist beliefs: "If only there were harmony among us, if we were to obey a single one of us, he would reduce to vassalage Turks, Arabs and Persians, all of them. We would perfect our religion, our state, and would educate ourselves in learning and wisdom." Since the epic was written at a time when nationalism was unknown in the Islamic Middle East, some have argued, therefore, that Kurdish is the oldest nationalism in that area of the world. Many would argue that this great Kurdish national epic occupies a role similar to that of Abolqasem Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (The Persian Book of Kings) in Persian literature.
   The poem itself is based on the earlier Kurdish epic Mame Alan and runs for more than 2,650 distichs or couplets, termed methnewi in Kurdish. Its plot concerns tragic lovers and has been called by some a Kurdish Romeo and Juliet. Mem and Zin were two lovers. Bakir's intrigues caused the death of Mem. Zin then died of grief mourning over her lover's grave. She was buried next to Mem's grave, while Bakir was killed there in revenge. A thornbush grew out of Bakir's blood and its roots separated the two lovers even in death. The Kurds have seen this separation as a metaphor for the division of Kurdistan victimized by its neighbors. Others have noted that even in the 21st century, restrictive Kurdish social values continue to inhibit healthy spontaneous relations between the sexes, while honor killing remains real. Recently, Michael Chyet, an American scholar of the Kurdish language, has written a contemporary analysis of the epic; and Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, a Kurdish scholar living in Sweden, has translated it.
   See also Literature.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

Look at other dictionaries:

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