Yörük – the nomads of Turkey. For hundreds of years, at the beginning of every summer, they have packed up their belongings and made the long trek from the hot coastal plains to summer in the cool prairies and grassy highlands of the western Toros Mountains where there are pastures for grazing. They return to the coast when the autumn rains arrive and the pastures grow again.

Although you still see the traditional black goat-hair tents of the truly nomadic Yörüks, the life of many of them is becoming less nomadic in modern Turkey. According to the Turkish Cultural Foundation, records indicate that in the mid-13th century there were 200,000 Yörük tribal families living in tents between Denizli and Izmir alone. Today you will see at most five Yörük tents in any one camp during the winter while in the summer, a trip to the Taurus mountains may reward you with the sight of some twenty or thirty tents in a camp.

Of course, there is much more to the Yörük way of life than herding flocks of sheep or goats…

Click here for more information about the Yörük

Yörük traditions

Many of the traditions still continue and there are ways to see, understand and share in these traditions.

Kerimoğlu Yörük Cadırı

The Kerimoğlu Yöruk Cadırı (Tent) in Çalış is more than just a restaurant. It is home to a museum with a collection of exhibits that demonstrate the lifestyle of these nomadic tribes. The items in the museum include tools and costumes of the Yörük people. Admission to the museum is free.

Yörük and Türkmen Festival

You can also go along to the Yörük and Türkmen Festival held annually in Seydikemer.

The festival did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic however, the festival committee has confirmed that the festival will the place on 24-25 July this year (2021) in the Yayla Karaçulha district of Seydikemer.

Here is a selection of videos and photographs from the 2017 festival.

Yörük ve Türkmen Şenliği from fethiyetimes on Vimeo.

Making ayran. from fethiyetimes on Vimeo.

The Yörük community has preserved many traditional customs.  Traditional dress is still worn by the female population while the males, almost exclusively, wear modern clothes.

Traditional costumes

Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey

Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey

Music and dance

Music and dance from fethiyetimes on Vimeo.

Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey

Wouldn’t you love to hear the stories behind these faces?

Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Faces of the Yörük - the nomads of Turkey
Yörük - the nomads of Turkey

Here are a few more photographs…

And finally, on a hot August weekend, Kar Şerbeti all round…

Yörük - the nomads of Turkey

Thank you to Nichola Chapman for sharing her photographs with us.

Featured image by Nichola Chapman Photography

2 COMMENTS

  1. Amazing pictures,each one with a story to tell,I am sure.Such character in the faces.when I was living in Fethiye,we went to a wedding up in the mountains,where a bride arrived on a white horse with all her gifts hanging off the saddle.It was a wonderful experience.

  2. Simon Reeve did justice to the lives and traditions of the Yuruk people, a lifestyle that deserves to be respected and preserved into the future of Turkey.

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