Friday, June 17, 2011

Kurdish Kufiyas/Puşis

(Photo by Jodi Hilton for The New York Times. Caption: "Kurdish youth commemorated the 1977 May Day massacre last month during a march to Taksim Square in Istanbul")

This photo appeared in a recent article in the New York Times about the Kurdish struggle in Turkey for cultural autonomy, and particularly in the field of music.

I found the article quite enlightening, but I was, of course, particularly struck by the photo, which features Kurds wearing very stylish kufiyas. These are known in Kurdish as puşis. The puşi is traditional wear for men in Kurdistan, and is often taken as an insignia of Kurdish identity. In my investigation of kufiyas, I've not yet devoted much time to the Kurdish angle.

An article in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet states that kufiyas/puşis have also become trendy in Istanbul, and that the origin of the trend is via the West. One vendor claims that it was due to the fact that Angelina Jolie was spotted wearing one. (I've not seen a photo of this. But I will look.) The kufiyas, in multiple colors, are made in Syria, the article claims.

But apparently, based on the evidence in this photo, it's not simply about trendiness. These Kurds are trendy, yes, but they are also political activists.

To be continued.

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