Rosaries in Kurdish Culture

Rosaries are valued in Kurdistan both for praying and for its ornamental use. The most popular, and probably most common (and surely more artistic one) is the handmade Qazwan rosary.

Qazwan rosary is made from the seeds of a tree that grows wild in the mountains of Kurdistan. The tree is called Daraban, the seeds - which are basically the shells of the fruits of the tree, are called Qazwan.  

A Qazwan rosary can be priced anywhere between $5 and $200 depending on its quality.

The quality of a Qazwan rosary is judged by the size of its beads, its color patterns, and length. For Qazwan rosaries, the smaller the size of its beads the better and more valuable, because it requires a lot more precise craftsmanship. A Qazwan rosay cannot be short. Regular ones are 1 meter long. So depending on size of beads, a one meter rosary could be 170 beads or 230 or anywhere in between.

The most intersting part is the process of creating the distinctive color patterns on the beads. To do that, Qazwan rosary makers will have to go to the mountains and scratch the seeds while still in the pod which will create discolored marks when the seeds harden and fall. Rosary makers will have to be very accurate to create the similar patterns when the scratch the seeds to make the beads look as much alike as possible for one complete rosary. Once scratching is complete, the rosary makers return home. After a while, they return to the mountains, and they need to know where and which tree they had marked seeds so they go back to the same place to collect them.

Of course some Qazwan seeds are also painted with different colors but they are not as priced as the rosaries with natural discoloration.

The amount of work that goes into the making of one rosary is incredible. The seeds have to be scratched while still on the trees, later collected, then cleaned and pierced, and finally all stringed manually. 

Of course there are also imported beads such as the ones used in these beautiful rosaries. These are usually made of resin and other hard materials. I was told by this rosary maker that these pictured are German beads. 

Making rosaries is a craft that takes hard work, precision, dedication and patience. 


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