The Cultural Life of Pomak Turks in Turkey (Erdek/Balikesir)
In this study it was studied cultural identity, ethnic structure and interactions with socio-cultural and economic environment of Pomak Turks who had come to Turkey during the population exchange. Being fundamental elements of Pomak Turks’ traditional structure, who live in Belkıs and Yukarı Yapıcı Villages (Erdek/Balıkesir), language, religion and dress and finery were examined for their effects on Pomak Turks’ cultural identity.
This is a social anthropological field study which was carried out by using participant observation and interview techniques. Throughout the field study, researcher went to the villages and interviewed with Pomak people and joined their special days. Their religious rituals and activities, women’s dressings and fineries, wedding preparations and rituals, daily life and economic activities were documented by photographs and camera recordings.
Pomak women who have carried the determining elements of cultural identity forward were the focus of the research. As a result of the study, it was seen that they protected their identites’ distinctive characteristics by using their languages among their own people, valuing religious rituals and wearing their folkloric dresses in everyday life. Besides, results indicate that they raise their children, who will pass on their culture to posterity, as faithful persons to those same traditional values. In order to protect their cultural values, Pomaks seem to emphasize their language, religion and dress. It was also found that they accommodated to different conditions of the region where they came as exchanges, emphasized their distinctive identity by consciously highlighting their cultural differences and that they experienced the separation of ‘me’ and ‘other.’
Keywords: Pomak Turks, Cultural Life, Identity, Ethnic Structure, Population Exchange
Research Assistant, Department of Folklore