Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz, by Isya Joseph, , at sacred-texts.com
The Yezidis are endogamic. They forbid union between the secular and the religious classes, as also within certain degrees of relationship. A šeiḫ's son marries only a Šeiḫ's daughter; so pirs' sons, pirs' daughters. A layman cannot marry a šeiḫ's or a pir's daughter, but he may take for a wife a ḳawwal's or a kochak's daughter; and ḳawwals' or kochaks' sons may marry laymen's daughters. But if a layman marries a šeiḫ's or a pir's daughter, he must be killed. Marriage is for life, but it is frequently dissolved, divorce being as easy to obtain among them as among Moslems. When a man wants to get rid of his wife, he simply lets her go. Polygamy is allowed, but usually confined to rich men, who generally have two wives. The number of wives is limited to six, except for the amir. A man must have money or cattle in order to be able to get married. The price is called ḳalam. A respectable girl will not sell herself at a low price. Parents get rich if they have several pretty girls; they are the father's property. The ḳalam,
dowry, is usually thirty sheep or goats, or the price of them. The man must give presents to the relatives of his bride, parents, brothers, etc. If a couple love each other and cannot marry because the man has no money to pay his sweetheart's father, then they elope. They usually make arrangements before elopement as to where they will stay for a few weeks to escape detection. Some strong men accompany them when they elope. The father of the girl with his relatives follow. If they catch the fugitives, bloodshed may ensue. But if they succeed in escaping, they return after some time and are then forgiven. According to a Kurdish proverb everything is pardoned the brave.
The couple choose one another, The girl informs her mother that she loves so and so. The latter informs her husband. The father acquaints the father of the young man with the fact. When they agree, and the daughter is given to the young man, his kindred come to the house of the bride's father on an appointed day, and give the girl a ring; then they dance, rejoice all night, play, wrestle, and eat black raisins. After that the young couple are allowed to arrange nuptial meetings in the company of a matron, who is presented with a gift.
When the time of marriage comes, the family of the bridegroom invites the relatives. Each takes with him a silk handkerchief as a present for the bride. For three days they drink "ărak," sing and dance to the sound of flutes and drums at the house of the young man. After that, the women, two by two, ride on
horseback together, and likewise the men. The men take with them their children, who ride behind them. In this manner they go to the bride's house, discharging their guns as they proceed. When they reach the house they all discharge their guns together. Hearing the sound, the father comes out and according to the custom, asks the visitors what they want. They respond "Your daughter," all answering at once. Then he goes in and tells his wife. After putting upon their daughter a scarlet ḫailiyah (veil), which covers her from head to foot, they bring her out. Everyone of the children takes a spoon from the bride's house and sticks it in his turban. After being brought to the house of the bridegroom, the bride is kept behind a curtain in the corner of a darkened room for three days, and the young man is not allowed to see her during this period.
On the third day, the bridegroom is sought early in the morning, and led in triumph by his friends from house to house, receiving at each a small present. He is then placed within a circle of dancers, and the guests and bystanders wetting small coins stick them to his forehead. The money is collected as it falls in an open handkerchief held by his companions. After this ceremony a number of the young men, who have attached themselves to the bridegroom, lock the most wealthy of their companions in a dark room until they are willing to pay a ransom for their release. The money thus taken is added to the dowry of the newly married couple.
On the evening of the third day the šeiḫ takes the bridegroom to the bride. Putting the hand of one in that of the other, and covering the couple with a ḫailiyah, he asks the bride, "Who are you?" "I am the daughter of so and so," responds she. Then he asks the bridegroom the same question. After receiving an answer, the šeiḫ asks, "Will you take this young woman as a wife," and "Do you want this young man as a husband?" After hearing each say "Yes:" the šeiḫ marks their shoulders and foreheads with red ink, and hands them a stick. As each holds one end of it, he asks them to break it in the middle, leaving one-half in the hand of each. Then the šeiḫ says, "So you remain one until death breaks you asunder."
When this is done, he takes the couple to a too and locks them in, waiting at the door. After a while the bridegroom knocks at the door three times. Understanding the signal, the priest discharges his gun, and all the bystanders outside follow his example. After shouting and dancing for some time. the šeiḫ sends them home. When they first meet, the newly wedded husband strikes his young wife with a small stone as a token of his superiority over her. For seven days, they stay at home and do no work. Now, if the husband dies first, the wife goes to her father's house.
With the Yezidis, the family bonds are stronger than those of the tribe. The family proper consists of parents and their children; married, and unmarried, living in the same house. Respect for parents and
elder persons is considered a virtue, as it is among all the eastern people. The head of the family is the sole proprietor of the possessions of the family, and holds full control over his wife and children, who are bound to obey him. Only personal objects and dress are the property of the wife. He can punish his wife and the children. If a son leaves his father's house, be is beyond the father's authority, but not beyond his moral influence. A father is to maintain his family, defend it, and answer charges brought against its members. Next to the father in authority stands the eldest son.
Women are inferior to men; married women must obey their husbands. They work like men; they till the ground, take care of cattle, fight the enemy and are courageous and very independent. This enables the young women to choose their sweethearts and run away with them. They converse with men freely. A woman does not conceal her face unless she is stared at, when she draws a corner of her mantle over her face.
Married women are dressed entirely in white, and their shirt is of the same cut as the man's, with a white kerchief under their chin, and another over their heads, held by the agal or woollen cord of the Bedouins. The girls wear white skirts and drawers, and over them colored zabouns, long dresses open in front and confined at the waist by a girdle ornamented with pieces of silver. They bind fancy kerchiefs
around their heads and adorn themselves with coins as well as with glass and amber beads.
The men wear shirts closed up to the neck, and their religious law forbids them to wear the common eastern shirts open in front. Their shirt is the distinctive mark by which the Yezidi sect is recognized at once. They are clothed besides with loose trousers and cloaks, both of white, and with a black turban. from beneath which their hair falls in ringlets. They usually carry long rifles in their hands, pistols in their girdles, and a sword at their side.
In their physical characteristics they are like the Kurds, wild, rough, uncultured. They are muscular, active, and capable of bearing great hardship. In general, they are a fine, manly race: tall or of medium stature, with large chest; strong deep voice, audible afar; clear, keen eye; frank and confident, or fierce and angry; nose of moderate length, and fairly small head. Their legs are rather short, but the soles of their feet are large. Their complexion is usually dark and their eyes are black. But there are different types. The predominant type is tall, with black hair, fine regular nose, and bluish brown eyes. The rest are of shorter stature, with longer features; light, bright eyes; and large, irregular nose. The Yezidis sometime shave the hair off their head, leaving only a long, thin forelock.