Highland life in the Taurus mountains of Mersin

The Taurus Mountains are mountain ranges that rise like the kaleduvari in the south of Turkey, running parallel to the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Pine tree forests are found in the first 2000 meters of the Taurus mountains. Above this height, pine trees give way to gigantic cedar trees , After the cedar trees,gushing from between all sorts of steep limestone cliffs, grass, flowers, leaves and juniper trees can be seen.

When the snow in the high parts of the Taurus mountains, which are under the snow until June, begins to melt and herbs appear, these mountains host the nomadic yoruks, the original natives of Mersin before migrating, until autumn. The Yoruks settled in the Highlands, which are the fertile lands of the Taurus mountains.

The plateaus are the places where the goats owned by yörüks drink from the purest waters and feed on the most fragrant herbs in these vast unclaimed lands. The reason why these lands are unclaimed is that no one except the yoruks dares to live and work in these remote lands, their peaceful lifestyle and the fact that the yoruks can share these places brotherly.

Although the number of yoruks, one of the first natives of Mersin, who continue their culture, is decreasing due to the charm of the modern world. In the Taurus mountains, there are still yoruks who herd their goats, stay in goat-hair tents and  in a constant change of location between winter and summer, Decisively continuing the traditions they brought from their ancestors. Yoruks, which means “Walking Turk” in Old Turkish, continue to set up their tents in different parts of the Taurus Mountains by following seasonal changes. In summer, as the weather warms up, the Yoruk people go to cooler and higher regions looking for favorable distribution areas for their animals, and towards winter, in parallel with the cooling of the weather, they go down again and return to their barracks. There are more than one definition of yoruks, but the most general definition formed on the yoruks is “nomadic people who live in the form of nomads, live in the mountains, travel the distances they will go on foot and provide their livelihood by raising livestock.” Has been accepted. The People of Yörük, who give the right to the word of their definitions, have always been in search of finding fresh pastures because of the livelihood they provide on livestock and their communities have been constantly referred to a change of location.

During the Ottoman Empire period, the yoruks spread all over Anatolia in the 19th century. One of the places they chose as a settlement area in the first half of the century is the Gülnar district of today’s Mersin province.

Animal husbandry is of vital importance in Yoruks. In addition, the meaning of living according to Yoruk traditions for the continuity of Yoruk Culture is in some sense a necessity of preoccupation with animal husbandry. However, the number of Yoruks who consider animal husbandry as a way of livelihood today is quite small. Almost all the families living in the villages have a field where they are working. These families, who have fields, earn a living through agricultural activities. Families who do not have a field, on the other hand, feed animals to live and sell the dairy products they get from these animals to make a living.

The nomads are and interested in animal husbandry,

 and their diet consists of meat and animal products (dairy products) as expected

Although the yörük tribes have left the Taurus Mountains and adapted to settled life in the mountainous villages of Mersin during the current period, their commitment to their culture and the place they came from can be understood with the term “going to the plateau”. In daily life, the discourse “I’m going to the pool, the sea, on vacation” that people use for the summer months differs as “I’m going to the tableland” in yoruks. In the hot summer months of Mersin, Mersin Yoruks go to the Taurus Mountains, where their ancestors spent centuries, and cool down in the cold wind of the The Mountains.

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