Yezidi villages in Kurdistan, Iraq

This Google Map shows the traditional areas of Yezidi population in Kurdistan.

Blue pins show villages in the districts of Badinan or Sheikhan and Dohuk. Red pins show villages in the Sinjar district.

Note that some of the settlements shown are the collective villages or mujamma’at into which Yezidis were forced under the Baathist regime. The others are the villages that survived the Iraqi state-sponsored destruction of Yezidi communities in 1957, 1969, 1975 and 1987/1988 during the Anfal and its precursors.

Place names are approximate transliterations; known variant spellings can be seen by clicking on a pin. This will sometimes also show a brief note on the community. For instance, if one clicks on the pin for Behzani, it will be seen that its name can also be transliterated as Bahzan, Behzan and Behzane, and that this Arabic-speaking village is, with its neighbouring village of Bashiqe, the traditional source of the Yezidi religious singers or qewels.

This map was first published by bluebirdresearch in 2010/11. Since then the genocidal actions of the Islamic supremacists of ISIS have led to the destruction of Yezidis and their villages especially in Sinjar, with associated displacement to refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and further afield.

Yezidis in Kars Oblast

The Armenians, the Assyrians and the Greeks were not the only nationalities to be largely removed from Asia Minor as Turkey aggressively redefined itself as a single-nation state in the post-Ottoman era. The Yezidis (Yazidis) – Kurds with their own distinctive non-Islamic religion – have also disappeared, either being killed or converted to Islam, assimilating into the Kurdish population, or crossing the border into the Republic of Armenia (in more recent times, many have emigrated to continental Europe, particularly to Germany).

The Google Map shows the location of the former Yezidi villages of the Kars oblast or province of the Russian Empire circa 1910 before it was re-taken by the Turks after the end of WW1. During the Russian era (1878-1918), the distinctiveness of the Yezidi was recognised and these villages constituted their own administrative district or okrug. Many had arrived in the region during the 1880s, having been displaced from further west in Anatolia. The Yezidi population of Kars oblast was approximately 2,386 in 1892.


A version of this blog post and its accompanying map were first published by bluebirdresearch in 2011.

Yezidi villages in Syria

This Google Map was created just after the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

It shows some of the surviving Yezidi villages in the Kurd Dagh, or “Kurdish Mountain”, a largely Kurdish region, north of Aleppo, in the far NW of Syria, at that date.

Other Yezidi villages in this area had already been abandoned, although their shrines and mausoleums remained places of pilgrimage.

Yezidis also lived in the main town Afrin (also known as Efrîn) and in other Kurdish settlements in the area.

It is not known what effect the conflict in Syria has had on the Yezidi population.


This short blog post and map were originally published on the bluebirdresearch website.

Yezidi villages in Armenia

The Yezidi in the Republic of Armenia, in common with many Armenians outside the capital Yerevan and the larger towns, lead a life of subsistence. The full employment of the Soviet era is long gone; the old collective farms lie abandoned, or now serve only as temporary or semi-permanent accommodation for a passing cowherd or shepherd and his livestock. There are few jobs in the mountain areas – and Armenia is nothing if not mountainous – and therefore subsistence is forced upon much of the rural population. Perhaps for the majority of Yezidi at least this might still be a preferred way of life. In summer the women grow vegetables in garden plots around their low dwellings in the villages; they also gather edible herbs such as shushan from the meadows and sell them by the roadside in Jamshlu, Alagyaz and other villages through which the main M3 road passes between Spitak and Yerevan.

One extremely popular large dark green leaf called aveluk, a mountain sorrel with a strong flavour, is cleverly plaited into ropes up to a metre long, with the protruding stalks trimmed off with a sharp knife; this braid is then hung up to dry for use in winter, when it has to be prepared by rehydrating and washing before cooking.

Meanwhile, the Yezidi men are up in the highland pastures of Aragats, their traditional Kurdish-style tents supplemented by plastic tarpaulin covered trucks; the milk, yoghurt and cheese of their sheep and cattle which graze the flower-rich meadows are said to be particularly flavoursome and healthy.

The Yezidi villagers, like many Armenians, may be poor when judged by Western material standards but they live well enough off the land and perhaps it is inappropriate to apply Western measures of standard of life. There are some satellite dishes and of course the ubiquitous mobile phones and coca cola in the villages. It is true that the educated among them may leave for urban life, and of course there are some disaffected youth, but the community is largely adjusted and inured to remote village life in highland Armenia. The Yezidi of Aragatsotn are respected by the Armenians for their role in fighting the Turks in the years following WW1 and their religion is accepted as non-threatening, if as a little peculiar. As well as Kurmanji Kurdish, the Yezidi speak fluent Armenian with the local accent learnt in the Armenian school system and an Armenian would be hard-pushed to distinguish a Yezidi from an Armenian on voice alone.

The older cemeteries, such as that in Rya Taza, where striking ancient and probably undatable animal-shaped grave-markers survive, speak of the Yezidis’ centuries of residence in Aragatsotn. Although the resident Yezidi population was supplemented by Yezidis displaced from post-Ottoman Turkey from the 1915 Armenian Genocide onwards (a period during which the Yezidi too were persecuted and deported by the Turks), the graveyards indicate that the Yezidi have lived on this land for hundreds of years.

The location of the Yezidi villages of the Republic of Armenia is shown on our Google Map. As mentioned, some of the ancient Yezidi places of habitation NE of Mounts Aragats are perhaps centuries old, while others are of more recent origin, having been settled during or after the second decade of the 20th century, as Yezidis fled oppression in Turkish lands in eastern Anatolia.

Unless otherwise stated, the map shows villages the population of which is entirely or overwhelmingly Yezidi.

The cluster of villages around Alagyaz is the historical heartland of Yezidi settlement within the borders of modern Armenia. All except Alagyaz itself and Sadunts are identified as Yezidi villages in an old gazetteer of the Yerevan gubernia or province of Tsarist Russia in 1869 – at that date, there was a total of 260 households in these eight villages.

In 1869 there were also 16 Yezidi households in an isolated settlement called Soukh-Bulakh, the precise location of which has not been established (its approximate site is shown on the map with a question mark).



Birgül Açıkyıldız, “The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion”, pub. I B Taurus, 2010

Eszter Spät, “The Yezidis”, pub Saqi Books, 2005

Эриванская Губернія: Списокъ Населенныхъ Мѣстъ Губернія, Военно-учёный комитет, c1870/71

This is a revised version of text and map which were first published on the bluebirdresearch website in 2011.