The Honour World of Kurdish Traditional Narratives


The Honour World of Kurdish Traditional Narratives

Dr Joanna Bocheńska


In his book “The Honor Code. How Moral Revolutions Happen” Kwam Anthony Appiah introduces the notion of honor world which he defines as “the group of people who acknowledges the same codes”. As stressed also by Alasdair MacIntyre in his book “After Virtue” in heroic societies honour was closely linked to the social status which shaped the duties, responsibilities and understanding of ethics of a single human. MacIntyre highlights the role of narratives in ethical education emphasizing that to understand a virtue we have not only to see how it might be exhibited in a character but also what place it can have in a certain enacted story. Moreover he shows the close connection between honour, faithfulness (men), chastity (women) and courage. For the members of heroic societies losing honour meant that one no longer has any value.


In my presentation I will give some examples from the Kurdish fairy tales and stories from Calils’ family and Żaba&Bayazidi collections which illustrate the Kurdish traditional honour world. This was a sophisticated system where many different values were involved. But discussing the role of honour and reputation in the traditional reality we should not forget that they were often subjects for fierce debates and tricky solutions had been sought in order to re-establish the fragile honour-based social equilibrium.