The Symbolism of Shaymaran, the Goddess the Kurds

By: Dilsa Deniz  

Gender discrimination even within subjects of study in the social sciences have dismissed the subject matter of goddess -sovereign or not- as unworthy of serious study” and was continued until 1987, the discussion on The Encyclopedia of Religion. The discipline of Kurdish studies, another discriminated field that remains a largely marginalized one in academia. Yet, the interconnections between mythology and Kurdish history and, in particular, the place and significance of women in Kurdish mythology and history of religion remain largely unexamined. Shaymaran is an important response to that. “Shaymaran” is a semi snake and semi women deity. The word made up of two words: “sha”(shah) and “mar” (snake) which means Shah of the snakes in Kurdish. The image of Shaymaran often seen hung in walls in Kurdish households and the myth is the most popularly circulated tale in which her tragic killing takes place. In my presentation, I will focus on the symbolic existence of a female deity, the Shaymaran, within the Kurdish mythological canon and, goddess-worshipping. An intricate analysis of the Shaymaran myth and the image will be the primary content of my presentation, which particularly focuses its attention on the connection between the Shaymaran imagery and her origin story. In particular, I will analyze the greater symbolism embedded in the Shaymaran myth, its dualistic nature, and her status as a possessor and a protector of knowledge. Archeomythology will be the main method of this study.

Shahmaran, Shaymaran, Kurdish Goddess, Snake, Snake Goddess, Healer
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dilsa Deniz

Visiting Scholar, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut, United States
CT, United States

I am a socio-cultural Kurdish anthropologist and visiting scholar at the University of Connecticut.  I was working at Nisantasi University in Turkey before I dismissed from my position due to signing a peace petition, in February 2016. I focus on the cultural and religious practices of Kurdish Alevis in particularly city of Dersim which is the centre of that religion. I was also an activist and organizer for women's rights and literacy in Turkey. I hold a Ph.D in Socal anthropology from Yeditepe University and M.A in Women's Studies from Istanbul University. I have published a number of articles and book chapters; My monograph Yol/Re:Dersim Inanc Sembolozmi, Anthropolojik Bir Yaklasim (The Path: Dersim Belief Symbolism an Anthropological Approach) has been published in Istanbul/Turkey at 2012