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Tahtaci



Tahtaci people of Turkey.
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Tahtaci people of Turkey.
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Gömbe one of the larger villages of the Tahtaci people of Turkey.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Gömbe one of the larger villages of the Tahtaci people.

People of Turkey, with an estimated number of 120,000 (2006 estimate), adhering to Alevism, speaking Turkish.
They largely inhabit mountainous regions in the Antalya region. Some live in all-Tahtaci communities, others among other ethnic groups. The main village with only Tahtaci is Akcenis, while their main centre is the town of Gömbe. Akcenis is one of its regions best maintained, traditional villages.
Their name comes from Turkish for "woodcutters", reflecting their livelihood in mountain regions.
The Tahtacis are still organized into clans. Most live from agriculture and forestry. A small minority are still semi-nomadic, exploiting the opportunities of the mountains through summer. The summer season traditionally begins at March 22. This is also the time of the year for their New Year, Nevruz. In its festival, the Tahtacis celebrate their late relatives. There is another important festival in June, staged in Gömbe and a farmers' fair in late August.
Tahtacis are, together with other Alevis, historically victims of Sunni Muslim persecution, and are one of the taqiyya groups in the Middle East. By this, they have accepted to be labelled Muslims, and mosques have been forcibly built in their communities.
Today, it appears that there are few specific problems in their relation with Muslims. Modern Tahtacis appear open and friendly to strangers, and are conscious and proud of their distinct identity.




By Tore Kjeilen