This article is also available in: Italiano
“The Caravan Moves on” by İrfan Orga is a one-of-a-kind text, able to make us savor Anatolia at its best, including the Yoruk, the nomadic Turks who populate its most inaccessible corners.
The Caravan Moves on
“Un viaggio in Turchia” “The Caravan Moves on” presents us with a deeper, more traditional and backward country, analyzed in its most varied components, from the relative modernity of Izmir to the ancestral life of the nomadic Yuruk population of Anatolia, and to the peasant and traditionalist world of the province, cultured in the moment of the democratic and westernizing transformation of Kemal Ataturk. With this book Irfan Orga enters the ranks of true travelers, writers capable of grasping the essence of a country and a culture from within, animating their books not only with illuminating observations but also with unforgettable characters such as the landowner Hikmet Bey, the oba bey chieftain Yuruk, the guide Cemal, the women still considered the property of their husbands or fathers, and the countless bourgeois and peasants that Orga stages in a work that reads like a novel and opens one unforgettable glimpse of a country and a culture today at the center of world attention.
From Izmir to the Yoruks
“The Caravan Moves on” is the second text published in Italy (again by Passigli editore) and de facto balances the history of Istanbul, told in his “A portrait of a Turkish family”, a masterpiece of contemporary Turkish literature. Today’s text does not reach that sublime quality, but it is without a shadow of a doubt a magnificent fresco of post-Atatürk Anatolia, giving extremely precise and rare information about the Yoruk, a nomadic Turkish population living in the Anatolian hinterland.
Specifically, İrfan Orga’s journey will begin in Izmir, at that moment more than ever taken by a real urban revolution which, on the one hand, will lead it to become the 3rd largest city in Turkey, on the other hand it will sacrifice its history. From there he will decide to travel by train to Konya, the city where we will meet Hikmet Bey, a Turkish general who has now retired to the countryside to become a landowner. During some trips to the Anatolian countryside, İrfan will come into contact with the Yoruk, taking Hikmet Bey to organize a real expedition to Karadağ, the black mountain. Not without difficulty, the group will actually come into contact with the Yoruk, spending 3 weeks with them, in which they will have the opportunity to better explore many details of their life and their customs.
Yoruk, the nomads of Anatolia
To my taste, the latter is certainly the most original, profound and interesting part of the novel, able to entertain, intrigue and at the same time give very precise and rare information on this fascinating population, de facto semi unknown outside of Turkey. and the Turkish world. According to Orga, the latter are the direct descendants of the nomads who have come here from the steppes of central Asia, so much so that they have maintained a lifestyle almost unchanged since that distant era. In fact, the life of the Yoruk is mainly based on pastoralism and freedom, founding elements of their people and still jealously guarded today. Of course being able to be free from everything has its cost in terms of comfort, but this does not upset the Yoruk in the least, who face the roughness with an eternal smile and “picturesque” remedies.
The most total isolation, broken only by annual gatherings and trade in the big cities, has pushed them even more to give up modern science and medicine, so much so that they prefer more ancient methods of tribal origin. Their treatments are in fact based on plants, rituals and verses from the Koran, constantly bringing their ancestral origins back to life; always in this regard, among them the shamans are still present today, a living representation of the very first Islam practiced by the Turkish peoples. These “magical” elements are then joined by the rural epic inherent in them, which constantly leads them to live and tell adventures of cursed loves and rivalry between clans degenerated into tragedies.
Discovering rural Anatolia
The book therefore presents itself as a very valid tool for getting to know the Turkish countryside also and above all from the citizen point of view, which, for example, in Yashar Kemal is missing but here he brings the inexperienced reader even closer to these realities, also helping him with the variety of cities visited.
The long and precise fresco by the Yoruk then embellishes the text, making it a truly unmissable gem for any lover of Turkey, making it de facto a unique and rare work. Special thanks to Passigli editore who gave Italian-speaking readers the opportunity to taste these wonders of İrfan Orga.
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