Yörük of Turkey

Tourists gather yearly to see the Yörük caravans depart their winter coastal homes for their summer pastureland in the Taurus Mountains. Excitement abounds. Sheep and goats walk single file, bells ringing. The huge loads of tents and equipment carried by camels are covered by colorful Turkish rugs. Women in their long, flowered skirts and young people dressed in their colorful best lend an air of festivity.

This 1,000 year way of life is vanishing as modernization infringes on traditional grazing rights and the younger generation look for an easier life with jobs in the city. In 2020, there were only eighty-six migrating families, and most of them used trucks and tractors to transport their animals. This yearly migration was disrupted by covid travel bans, and it will be difficult to overcome the loss of livestock.

The Yörük (name derived from the Turkish verb meaning to walk) are a Turkish tribal group numbering 463,000. They are Sunni Muslims, but Shamanistic practices of the past, such as warding off evil spirits, still exist. Their language is a dialect of Turkish (Balkan Gagauz Turkish) and has no Scriptures.

Yörüks are honorable with strong moral principles. They are frugal, but also warmly hospitable, offering visitors foods like butter, cheese, yogurt, and perhaps meat. The Yörük value cleanliness and freedom but will never be clean from sin and have true freedom without Christ.

Spring 2021