Noah and the Serpent

In: Iran and the Caucasus
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  • 1 Yerevan

The Prophet Noah is not a predominant figure within the Yezidi mythology, and so it should come as no particular surprise that he is often absent from the Yezidi sacred hymns. This peculiarity seems easily explained by the Yezidi cosmogonic myth, which places the emergence of Yezidis as a separate and wholly distinct occurrence from the genesis of the rest of humanity. Hence, a mythical catastrophe reducing mankind to merely one family would certainly contradict said cosmogony. And yet, the tale of “Noah and the Serpent” somehow finds itself recounted within every Yezidi community. The present paper will demonstrate that this veneration of Noah is a remnant of an essential Gnostic myth and has the makings of a Wandersage—containing elements of Central Asian beliefs and Mesopotamian mythology,—which is not only widely attested among the Muslim and Christian neighbours of the Yezidis in Northern Iraq but narrated throughout Asia Minor, Central Asia, as well as South-eastern and Eastern Europe.

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