Tawûsî Melek

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Tawûsî Melek
Lord of this World, Leader of the Heptad
Member of the Heptad
Peacock statue on Sharfadin Temple in Sinjar, Iraq
Other namesTawûsî Mêran
Venerated inYazidism and Yarsanism
SymbolsPeacock, Light, Rainbow, Sencaq
Ethnic groupKurds (Yazidis and Yarsanis)[2]
FestivalsYazidi New Year, sometimes also called Cejna Tawûsî Melek (Feast of Tawûsî Melek)[3]
Melek Taûs, the Peacock Angel

Tawûsî Melek[a] (Kurdish: تاوسی مەلەک, romanized: Tawûsî Melek, lit.'Peacock Angel')[4][5][6][7] is one of the central figures of the Yazidi religion.[8][4] In Yazidi creation stories, before the creation of this world, God created seven Divine Beings, of whom Tawûsî Melek was appointed as the leader. God assigned all of the world's affairs to these seven Divine Beings, also often referred to as the Seven Angels or heft sirr ("the Seven Mysteries").[8][9][10][11]

In Yazidi beliefs, there is one God, who created Seven Divine beings, the leader of whom is Tawûsî Melek, the Lord of this World, who is responsible for all that happens on this world, both good and bad.[12] According to religious tradition, the nature, with its phenomena of light and darkness, is from one source, which is the Lord of this World, Tawûsî Melek. Qewl passages emphasize Tawûsî Melek's power on the earth, in the sky, sea, on the mountains, and their residents, that is, his power exists in all parts of nature, whether celestial or terrestrial.[13]

Religious significance[edit]

Tawûsî Melek in Yazidi beliefs and mythology[edit]

Melek Taûs, the Peacock Angel. This emblem features Tawûsî Melek in the center, the Sumerian diĝir on the left, and the domes above Sheikh 'Adī's tomb on the right.
Tawûsî Melek depicted as a peacock inside the display case on the grave of a Yazidi believer, cemetery of the Yazidi community in Hannover.
Quba Mere Diwane is the largest temple of the Yazidis in the world, located in the Armenian village of Aknalich. The temple is dedicated to Melek Taûs and the Seven Angels of Yazidi theology.

The Yazidis consider Tawûsî Melek an emanation of God who is a good, benevolent angel and leader of the archangels, who was entrusted to take care of the world after he passed a test and created the cosmos from the Cosmic egg.[14] Yazidis believe that Tawûsî Melek is not a source of evil or wickedness.[8][9][10] They consider him to be the leader of the archangels, not a fallen nor a disgraced angel, but an emanation of God himself.[8][9][10] The Yazidis believe that the founder or reformer of their religion, Sheikh Adi Ibn Musafir, was an incarnation of Tawûsî Melek.

In Yazidi religious folk beliefs, Tawûsî Melek is described as eternal and an eternal light (Tawûsî Melek herhey ye û nûra baqî ye), and in Yazidi mythology, when Tawûsî Melek descended to earth, the seven colours of the rainbow transformed into a seven-coloured bird, the peacock, which flew around every part of earth to bless it, and its last resting place was in Lalish. Hence, in Yazidi mythology, the rainbow is linked with Tawûsî Melek and it is believed that he shows his blessing with the sign of rainbow.[13]

The first Wednesday of Nîsan (Eastern April) every year is believed to coincide with Tawûsî Melek's descending to the earth as light for the renewal of life on earth, adorning of the nature and renewing of the year; therefore, it became a holy day and is the day on which the Yazidi New Year (Sersal) takes place. On the eve of the feast, 365/366 lamps are lit as the symbol of the descending of Tawûsî Melek to the earth. This number also corresponds to the number of the days in the year.[13]

Yazidi accounts of the creation differ significantly from those of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), since they are derived from the Ancient Mesopotamian and Indo-Iranian traditions; therefore, Yazidi cosmogony is closer to those of Ancient Iranian religions, Yarsanism, and Zoroastrianism.[15][16]

Symbolism of the Peacock in religious life[edit]

In Yazidism, the Peacock, which Tawûsî Melek is symbolised with, is believed to represent the diversity of the World,[17] and the colourfulness of the Peacock's feathers is considered to represent of all the colours of the nature. The feathers of the peacock also symbolize sunrays, from which comes light, luminosity and brightness, and the peacock opening its feathers of its tail in a circular shape symbolizes the sunrise.[13] Consequently, due to its holiness, Yazidis are not allowed to hunt and eat the peacock, ill-treat it and utter bad words about it. Images of the peacock are also found drawn around the sanctuary of Lalish and on other Yazidi shrines and holy sites, homes, as well as religious, social, cultural and academic centres.[13]

In Yarsanism[edit]

In Yarsanism, a religion that shares many similarities with Yazidism dating back to pre-Islam,[18][19] there is also a figure referred to as Malak Tawus, whose identification is tied to the names of angels during various dowres (cycles), which denotes range of concepts. Malak Tawus is believed to be "pure and without sin, above and free of any bad actions, obedient and devoted to God and consisting of light." According to Yarsani doctrine, during the dowre of Shari'at, in which one is being guided by Islamic Law, Malak Tawus was labelled as Sheytan,[20] whereas in the dowre of Haqiqat (Truth), Malak Tawus is called Dawud, who is one of the seven holy Beings in Yarsanism that are referred to as the Haft Tan.[21] Thus, the Yarsanis do not curse Satan. The Yarsanis of the Kermanshah region use the name “Malek Tavus”, i.e. the Peacock Angel, which is also used by the older Yarsani texts, to designate Satan.[22]

The term dowre may refer to a period of time that started with the Essences (zāt) of the Divine and of members of the two Heptads manifesting or incarnating themselves as humans. It also refers to a stage in humanity's religious development. The first and initial dowre was the stage of Shari'at, where the Islamic Law was or is in charge and guiding everyone. This dowre is believed to have begun at creation and concluded with Muhammed, the Truth (Haqiqat) is thought to have existed during this stage, but had not yet been perceived. Following the dowre of Shari'at were the intermediate dowres of Tariqat, i.e. the 'Path' of a mystical Order, and Ma'refat, i.e. Esoteric Knowledge. The former was marked by the development of mystical brotherhoods that allowed people to start learning about esoteric truth. These stages were succeeded by the present dowre of Haqiqat, which is marked by Sultan Sahak's arrival. The dowre of Haqiqat is the phase of development in which the advanced mystic fully has perceived the esoteric Truth. Yarsanis are thought to be living in this dowre, however, the same is not true for all humans, and most outsiders are still believed to remain in the dowre of Shari'at or the intermediate dowres of Tariqat and Ma'refat.[21]

Accusations of alleged devil-worship[edit]

Muslims and followers of other Abrahamic religions have erroneously associated and identified the Peacock Angel with their own conception of the unredeemed evil spirit Satan,[8][9][10][23]: 29 [24] a misconception which has incited centuries of violent religious persecution of the Yazidis as "devil-worshippers".[9][10][8][25][26] Persecution of Yazidis has continued in their home communities within the borders of modern Iraq.[9][10][27]

Further accusations were derived from narratives attributed to Melek Taûs, which are actually foreign to Yazidism and probably introduced by either Muslims in the 9th century or Christian missionaries in the 20th century.[28] Accusations of devil-worship fueled centuries of violent religious persecution, which have led Yazidi communities to concentrate in remote mountainous regions of northwestern Iraq.[8][9][10][29] The Yazidi taboo against the Arabic word Shaitan (الشیطان) and on words containing the consonants š (sh) and t/ have been used to suggest a connection between Tawûsî Melek and Iblis,[2] although no evidence exists to suggest that Yazidis worship Tawûsî Melek as the same figure.

Furthermore, Yazidis do not believe Tawûsî Melek to be a source of evil or wickedness.[8][9][10] They consider him to be the leader of the archangels, not a fallen angel.[8][10][23][24] In Mishefa Resh, Tawûsî Melek is equated with Ezrayil or Ezazil.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ also known as Melekê Tawûs and Tawûsê Melek.
  1. ^ Leezenberg, Michiel (2021). "Religion in Kurdistan". 19 - Religion in Kurdistan. pp. 477–505. doi:10.1017/9781108623711.020. ISBN 9781108623711. S2CID 235526110. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Yazidis". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  3. ^ Omarkhali, Khanna (2017). The Yezidi religious textual tradition : from oral to written categories, transmission, scripturalisation and canonisation of the Yezidi oral religious texts. p. 596. ISBN 978-3-447-10856-0. OCLC 1007841078.
  4. ^ a b "Sembolîzma teyran di Êzîdîtiyê de (1)" (in Kurdish). Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b Omarkhali, Khanna (2017). The Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition : From Oral to Written Categories, Transmission, Scripturalisation and Canonisation of the Yezidi Oral Religious Texts. Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-10856-0. OCLC 1329211153.
  6. ^ Aysif, Rezan Shivan (2021). The Role of Nature in Yezidism: Poetic Texts and Living Tradition. Göttingen: Göttingen University Press. doi:10.17875/gup2021-1855. ISBN 978-3-86395-514-4. S2CID 246596953.
  7. ^ "مەھدى حەسەن:جەژنا سەر سالێ‌ دمیتۆلۆژیا ئێزدیان دا". 2021-04-13. Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Asatrian, Garnik S.; Arakelova, Victoria (January 2003). Asatrian, Garnik S. (ed.). "Malak-Tāwūs: The Peacock Angel of the Yezidis". Iran and the Caucasus. Leiden: Brill Publishers in collaboration with the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies (Yerevan). 7 (1–2): 1–36. doi:10.1163/157338403X00015. eISSN 1573-384X. ISSN 1609-8498. JSTOR 4030968. LCCN 2001227055. OCLC 233145721.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Allison, Christine (25 January 2017). "The Yazidis". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.254. ISBN 9780199340378. Archived from the original on 11 March 2019. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Asatrian, Garnik S.; Arakelova, Victoria (2014). "Part I: The One God - Malak-Tāwūs: The Leader of the Triad". The Religion of the Peacock Angel: The Yezidis and Their Spirit World. Gnostica. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge. pp. 1–28. doi:10.4324/9781315728896. ISBN 978-1-84465-761-2. OCLC 931029996.
  11. ^ Omarkhali, Khanna (2017). The Yezidi religious textual tradition : from oral to written categories, transmission, scripturalisation and canonisation of the Yezidi oral religious texts. p. 26. ISBN 978-3-447-10856-0. OCLC 1007841078.
  12. ^ Veli., Bozarslan, Hamit. Gunes, Cengiz. Yadirgi (2021). The Cambridge history of the Kurds. Cambridge University Press. p. 538. ISBN 978-1-108-47335-4. OCLC 1262669198.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e Aysif, Rezan Shivan (2021). The Role of Nature in Yezidism. pp. 61–67, 207–208, 264–265. doi:10.17875/gup2021-1855. ISBN 978-3-86395-514-4. S2CID 246596953.
  14. ^ Rodziewicz, Artur (December 2016). Asatrian, Garnik S. (ed.). "And the Pearl Became an Egg: The Yezidi Red Wednesday and Its Cosmogonic Background". Iran and the Caucasus. Leiden: Brill Publishers in collaboration with the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies (Yerevan). 20 (3–4): 347–367. doi:10.1163/1573384X-20160306. eISSN 1573-384X. ISSN 1609-8498. JSTOR 44631092. LCCN 2001227055. OCLC 233145721.
  15. ^ Richard Foltz Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present Oneworld Publications, 01.11.2013 ISBN 9781780743097 p. 221
  16. ^ Omarkhali, Khanna (2009–2010). "The status and role of the Yezidi legends and myths. To the question of comparative analysis of Yezidism, Yārisān (Ahl-e Haqq) and Zoroastrianism: a common substratum?". Folia Orientalia. 45–46.
  17. ^ Pirbari, Dimitri; Grigoriev, Stanislav. Holy Lalish, 2008 (Ezidian temple Lalish in Iraqi Kurdistan). p. 183.
  18. ^ Bozarslan, Hamit; Gunes, Cengiz; Yadirgi, Veli (2021-04-22). The Cambridge History of the Kurds. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-58301-5.
  19. ^ Omarkhali, Khanna (January 2009). "The status and role of the Yezidi legends and myths. To the question of comparative analysis of Yezidism, Yārisān (Ahl-e Haqq) and Zoroastrianism: a common substratum?". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ The Yaresan : a sociological, historical, and religio-historical study of a Kurdish community (Berlin : Schwarz, 1990) p. 75
  21. ^ a b Kanakis, Yiannis (2020). God first and last : religious traditions and music of the Yaresan of Guran. Volume 1, Religious traditions. Wiesbaden. pp. 44–45, 134. ISBN 978-3-447-19992-6. OCLC 1158495389.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  22. ^ Hamzee (1990), p. 75.
  23. ^ a b van Bruinessen, Martin (1992). "Chapter 2: Kurdish society, ethnicity, nationalism and refugee problems". In Kreyenbroek, Philip G.; Sperl, Stefan (eds.). The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge. pp. 26–52. ISBN 978-0-415-07265-6. OCLC 919303390.
  24. ^ a b Açikyildiz, Birgül (2014). The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion. London: I.B. Tauris & Company. ISBN 978-1-784-53216-1. OCLC 888467694.
  25. ^ Li, Shirley (8 August 2014). "A Very Brief History of the Yazidi and What They're Up Against in Iraq". The Atlantic.
  26. ^ Jalabi, Raya (11 August 2014). "Who are the Yazidis and why is Isis hunting them?". The Guardian.
  27. ^ Thomas, Sean (19 August 2007). "The Devil worshippers of Iraq". The Daily Telegraph.
  28. ^ Halil Savucu: Yeziden in Deutschland: Eine Religionsgemeinschaft zwischen Tradition, Integration und Assimilation Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, Marburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-828-86547-1, Section 16
  29. ^ "Who Are the Yazidis, the Ancient, Persecuted Religious Minority Struggling to Survive in Iraq?". National Geographic. August 9, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.

General bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]