Kurdish tea shop celebrates the life of renowned singer Hesen Zirek
By Sartip Othman
Located in the heart of Kurdistan’s city of culture of Sulaimani, a tea shop named after one of the most celebrated Kurdish folklore singers, receives people in increasing numbers who admire the life achievements of Hesen Zirek, who is believed to have recorded more than 1000 songs, mostly in Kurdish--and some of them in Persian and Turkish languages.
Tea shops in Kurdistan have long been an integrated part of the Kurdish culture,often becoming a landmark in each city. In Sulaimani, Shaab tea shop takes the top spot with decades-long history where traditionally people with interest in culture and intellectual activities visit, accompanied by politicians.
In Erbil, Machko tea shop, located at the foothold of the ancient Erbil citadel in the heart of the city, is another touristic attraction. It is where the Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabni invited the then London Mayor Boris Johnson, now the UK’s foreign minister, in 2015 to drink a cup of Kurdish tea with peace of mind, a clear contrast to the ongoing war against the Islamic State only hours away from the Kurdish city.
Chances are you would hear at least one of Zirek songs when you visit any of these folklore tea shops anytime of the day or night.
Zirek, a Kurd born in Bokan, a Kurdish city in Iranian Kurdistan who died in 1972 aged 50, is perhaps more known to the young and the old alike for his song about Newroz, the new year in the Kurdish calendar, celebrated on the eve of March 21.
Hesen Zirek’s shop however is new to the city--compared to Shaab and Machko,founded only some 25 years ago.