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Hewramí group of Kurdish language

In far southern Kurdistan, in an area from Halabja (Hellebje) and Marivan to Pawe, Newsúd, Bésaran Hewramí predominates. Hewramí was once the predominant Language of central Kurdistan, where now Central Kurdish Dialects group (Soraní) is spoken, (See the map). The language sedentary farmers and old urban centres, it was the language of the important Kurdish princely house, that of Erdelan, until its fall in 1867. Most of the poular and polished poetry written under the auspices of the Bâbân princely house of central Kurdistan, even though itself a house of Central Kurdish Dialect speakers, was written in this dialect, until the beginning of the 19th century. The switch to Central Kurdish Dialect is traditionally ascribed to the reign of the early 19th-century Baban prince Abdul Rehman Pasha.

The Hewramí dialect has developed, in spite of a relatively small number of speakers, a rich body of poetic literature devoted mainly to epics, lyrics and religious themes. It has also served as "the sacred language" of a secret religion, Yarasan (Minorsky 1960:262), prevalent mainly in Kurdistan in Iranian. Major subdialects of Hawramí dialect are Hellebjey, Sheyxaní, Textí, Lehúní, Bésaraní.

The Hawramí dialect developed into a literary koine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was also used as a medium of poetic expression by non-Hawramí speakers in neighboring areas. The dialect was adopted, along with Persian, as the literary language of tile court of the Ardalan principality (Minorsky 1943:76) and also in the rival Baban court, although the latter switched to the Central Kurdish dialect towards the end of its rule (Edmonds 1957:10). Ardalan patronage was perhaps due to the fact that the Ardalan princes originally came from Hawraman, the homeland of Hawrami speakers.

Several factors have contributed to the decline of this literary dialect. One major factor was the fall in the mid-19th century of tile Erdelan principality and its replacement by direct rule of the Persian government. Another factor was the flourishing of Central Kurdish dialect poetic literature in southern Kurdistan at the Baban court. Of even greater significance, however, was the officialization of Central Kurdish dialect in southern Kurdistan in the post-1918 years.

The population of Halabja (Hellebje), the northern most outpost of the language, and the former seat of the Houses of Erdelan and Baban, was annihilated by chemical warfare in 1988. It now houses more than 100,000 refugee Kurds, who speak almost exclusively Central Kurdish Dialect. In fact, the Hewramí-speaking Pawe, Newsúd and, ancient Bésaran, opposite Halabja in the Eastern Kurdistan, have also been overrun by these refugees.


  1. Dr. A. Hassanpour, Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918 - 1985, Mellen Research University Press, USA, 1992
  2. Prof. M. Izady, The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilization Harvard University, USA, 1992


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