Yörüks are a nomadic people that have been around for centuries and developed a culture present both in Asia and all over the world. Today even though a significant portion of them have become more settled, there are still many traces of their nomadic culture. In Anatolia there are still people who live the nomadic lifestyle of the Yörüks in the same way as they did before.
Yörüks are an extension of Central Asia’s nomadic culture, and they first began arriving in Anatolia in the 11th century. The Yörüks played a significant role in the changes in the demographic structure of Anatolia and the Balkans, and for centuries have been amongst the most important ethnic groups in these regions.
Today cities like Balıkesir, Mersin, Maraş and Manisa have sizeable Yörük populations. Not surprisingly, these cities also have quite a large collection of Yörük handcrafts.
The most critical thing in shaping the culture of these nomadic peoples has been their ususual way of life. The lack of a settled location led to a similar lack in building a regular set of trade practices or agricultural roots. While their primary means of subsistence is livestock farming, and important reflection of this culture’s way of life can be seen in their crafts.
Yörük peoples live in tents or “yurts” and these are the first thing that strikes the eye regarding their craftsmanship. One can even say that quite a lot of the crafts that the produce has been produced out of necessity around the concept of nomadism. Especially kilims form one of the most important forms of nomadic crafts for the Yörüks, designed both out of aesthetic interests but also with the technical and cultural wealth built up over centuries.
Today the Yörüks live in many different regions of Anatolia and continue to produce some of its greatest examples of kilims. As a result, it’s no surprise that Balıkesir is widely accepted as one of the best regions for kilims.