Yezidis - Economy

The traditional occupations of the Yezidis have been agriculture and livestock raising. The Yezidis of the Sinjar District of Iraq raise figs, grapes, almonds, and nuts, among other crops. Transcaucasian Yezidis in rural areas continue to depend on raising sheep and cattle. Yezidi women living in cities often work as street sweepers, and the men are employed in a wide range of jobs.

Clothing. Yezidi men were traditionally distinguished by their shirts worn closed up to the neck, which are prescribed by their religion. They wore white trousers and cloaks, and their hair was tied up underneath a turban, the color of which marked the various orders of the clergy. Women wore white skirts and trousers and adorned themselves with kerchiefs, bracelets, coins, and rings. Married women were dressed in white and wore shirts similar to those of the men.

As recently as the 1970s, Transcaucasian Yezidis wore distinctive costumes in rural areas, and to the present day they avoid blue clothing (a color tabooed by their religion). Women, especially older ones, still wear bright-colored skirts and wrap scarves about their heads. The apparel of the men is now little different from that of their Armenian neighbors.

Trade. The Yezidis have a reputation for avoiding business activity, which they believe is conducive to cheating. Nonetheless, since the Soviet period some Transcaucasian Yezidis involved in animal husbandry have become extremely wealthy from the sale of meat and dairy products.

Division of Labor. Although considered inferior to men, Yezidi women do much of the same work and even engage in fighting against enemies. They converse freely with men and do not veil their faces from them as some Muslim women do.

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