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With the first warm days of spring,  in villages all around Turkiye, families begin to think about moving to their summer residences on the cool summer pastures called  yayla. The migration from winter village to summer housing is a legacy from the days when Anatolia was mostly populated by nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples.

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Enthusiastic and exhaustive preparations are necessary for everything required during the summer must be carried to the yayla. Clothes, tents, furniture, cooking equipment, bedding are packed and loaded into cars and trucks for the long dirve to often remote location. Season after season, each village moves to its own particular pasture land.

 

After reaching the yayla the convoys disperse and the families start setting up their own tents. In some areas, the Black Sea yaylas for instance, the summer settlements are made of permanent structures with each family moving into their own wooden chalet each year. Once everything is arranged, the villagers adapt quickly to the different pace of life of the yayla.

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Whole family wakes up at dawn. Men set off early with the herds, while women attend to such domestic chores as preparing meals, making cheese and gathering plants for dyeing wool. Children help out in all activities. After women have milked the animals, it is time to turn the milk into yogurt and butter.

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When men and boys return in the afternoon, families gather to enjoy their main meal, often hot cracked-wheat based dishes accompanied by ayran, a drink of thinned and slated yogurt, as they talk about the day's activites. In the evenings the yayla comes to life in spontaneous gatherings. People sing traditional songs, enjoy folk music, dance and recount hilarious jokes and long stories. The attraction to the quality of life on the yayla is so rooted in village life that even those who do not earn their living from farming make the early pilgrimage.

 

 

Today, the encroachment of modern life on the yaylas is carefully monitored so that the essential character of this way of life is preserved. The permanent housing that is gradually replacing the black goat hair tents is designed to blend in harmoniously with the natural environment, while offering the conveniences of modern life. In some yaylas, houses with kitchens, toilets, water and electricity stand next to a wide expense of black tents. The arrival of shops stocked with provisions and other necessities means that it is no longer necassary to bring all the food from town. The construction of new roads makes the journey to these remote locations much shorter an dless arduous than in former days. Indeed, public transportation services are available to some of the more accessible summer plateaux.

The Black Sea Yaylas

The Mediterranean Yaylas

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