The Ancient Scythian Festival of Sakaia

The Classical Greek sources mention a Scythian festival, named Sakaia, borrowed by ancient Persians and performed even in Babylonia. During the festival, a servant was elected as king for two to five days; the elected servant who was called ''zoganes'', was allowed to do as he was pleased and was entertained by the royal concubines.
But at the end of the period of the licence the masquerade king was dethroned and whipped. The participants who accompanied the carnival king, used to drink and dance. The festival was celebrated at vernal or autumnal equinox.
Interestingly, the Persians who attended the festival dressed in the Scythian garb.

The exact same festival is survived throughout Kurdistan. 
On of the characteristic of the New Year festival (Newroz/Newroj/Gulus) in Kurdistan is the election of the false “amir” (ruler), whom the participants choose from among themselves to rule over them for three to five days. During this time he engages in the most extravagant behavior, making wild promises of long life and wealth to all his “subjects” and, in the general spirit of fun, fining those he judges guilty of “crimes”. (read here)

The festival is even known among the Yezidi Kurds, and Kurds of the Transcaucasus and Khorasan, observed by the archaeologist and iranologist Jean-Jacques de Morgan.
The festival is not nowadays common among other Iranic-speaking nations.

1 comment:

Corduene said...

Very interesting the similarities between Kurds and Scythians.

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