Turkish Cultural House
The present day village of Çandır was originally settled by nomads known as Karamanlı Yörüks. They were a nomadic people from Anatolia and the Balkans who raised animals and wove carpets. Karamanlı Yörüks came from the province of Karaman in central Turkey.
Up through the early parts of the 19th century thousands of Yörük nomads lived in the Balkans as well as throughout western, southern and southeastern Anatolia.
During the heat of the summer they would reside on the high pastures, and as it cooled down during the fall each year, they moved to lower elevations with the winter months finding them in well sheltered camps with their animals.
The Yörüks are divided in a large number of named endogamous patrilineal tribes. Among recent tribes mentioned in the literature are Aksigirli, Ali Efendi, Bahsıs, Cakallar, Coşlu, Qekli, Gacar, Güzelbeyli, Horzum, Karaevli, Karahacılı, Karakoyunlu, Karakayalı, Karalar, Karakecili, Manavlı, Melemenci, San Agalı, Sanhacılı, Sarıkeçili, Tekeli, Yeni Osmanlı and Karamanlı in the case of the creator of the Çandır Nomad Museum.
An interesting offshoot of the Yörük are the Tahtadji of the mountainous regions of Western Anatolia who, as their name implies [ Turkish: tahta: wood ] have been occupied with forestry work and wood craftsmanship for centuries, although they share similar traditions with their other Yörük cousins.
The Qashqai people of southern Iran - around Shiraz, and the Chepni of Turkey's Black Sea Region are also worthy of mention due to their shared characteristics with the Yörüks. A considerable number of the original Turkish population of Northern Cyprus are also of Yörük descent.
These nomadic peoples began to settle in this manner back during the Ottoman era and continued with this lifestyle during the creation of the Turkish Republic.
Under the Ottomans the Yörük people resisted longterm settlement, and only accquiested with the reduction of suitable pastures during the 20th century.
Most Yörük communities now live permanently in their winter villages, so Yörük tents made of goat hair on the high pastures in summer is something rarely seen any longer.
These tents known as kara çadır made of felt used to be their only homes, the inside being decorated with brightly coloured carpets, kilims and felt rugs woven in traditional patterns.
Çandır Nomad Museum in the village of Çandır beyond the ancient remains of Kaunos - an archeological site, was created by Mehmet Varol and his wife who are of Yörük descent. Until 1945 these "walking people" lived a nomadic existence, rearing and herding sheep and cattle.
The Yörüks are a Turkish nomadic group of people primarily inhabiting the mountains of Anatolia and can be found in parts of the Balkan peninsula. Their name derives from the Turkish verb yürü, which means "to walk", with the word yörük or yürük designating "those who walk, or walkers".
These nomads received land from the state and some settled down in the village of Çandır. The nomads built mud brick houses, of which a well-preserved one can still be seen if you turn left towards the old harbor in the lagoon in Çandır at the end of the paved village road.
My brother and I moved to
Çandır in 2006 from another small mountain village called Gökbel near Dalyan, Turkey. My brother and I repaired and refurbished a mud brick house that sits on the hillside overlooking the village. When we first started the work it required removing layer upon layer of old carpets before we got down to the original
floor of hard-packed mud.
When working on the house we moved the stones lying upside down embedded in the dirt at the entry door. These were the original steps in front of the entrance which were two blocks of marble with inscriptions in Greek and Carian - which were turned over to the archeologists at Kaunos.
Another mud house of which the walls have been plastered can be seen next to the Nomad Museum run by the elderly Karamanlı yörük villager, Mehmet Varol. It is the house where he was raised as a young boy and grew up with an avid interest in culture and history.
Varol used to work at the ruins of Kaunos, where he started collecting nomad rugs, horse saddles, donkey bags, clothing, pots & pans, and the tools and appliances used in and around the house and yard.
Yörük are known to make beautiful kilims and each clan had its own designs and motifs. The ones from Karaman tribe have bright colors, which rarely fade in the sun, even when they've been washed regularly.
The museum is Mehmet Varol's tribute to the old ways and customs of the Yörük people that he did not want to end up lost and forgotten.
When visiting the museum Mehmet Varol and his wife's enthusiasm and pride in the museum is more than obvious and they make splendid hosts.
Karaman Province in central Turkey is a province of central Turkey which contains many small villages that were settled by Yörüks who also migrated to other areas but still retain their identity as Karamanlı Yörüks. Mehmet Varol's family was one of those who migrated to Çandır.
The museum is exceptionally well done and well worth the extra effort of those who visit the ruins of Kaunos. Signs directing visitors can be seen in Çandır after taking a further 20 minute walk past Kaunos to the village.
Mehmet Varol and his wife also have tables where visitors to the museum can purchase cold drinks, coffee or tea.
The museum is a pleasant surprise when you enter it. At first you expect a rather amatuerish collection of old objects, but what you discover is a very well presented collection of rare and unique items related to the Yörük culture.
Kilim carpets, old wooden tools, traditional Yörük dress and items such as hand made cooking vessels of clay and metal, wooden devices for spinning yarn and dozens of other useful tools that Mehmet is more than happy to describe to you.
It is a museum worthy of attention and a tribute to Mehmet Varol for his enthusiasm and dedication to the preservation of his ancestry.
Karaman Province in central Turkey is a province of central Turkey which contains many small villages that were settled by Yörüks who also migrated to other areas but still retain their identity as Karamanlı Yörüks.
When visiting Dalyan take the rowboat across the river to Kaunos and continue on to Çandır and drop in at the museum. You will not regret having done so...