Turkey’s Camel Culture

I’m reprinting this article from Hürriyet Daily News:

Camel culture to live on in book

Camels have been of critical importance in Turkey in centuries past, but the animals are now largely consigned to use in wrestling competitions or touristic purposes. Now, however, the Antalya Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate has initiated work about camel culture and the camel business in preparation for the publishing of a book. 

1014145570413“Camels came with Turks from Central Asia. They were used for military and trade purposes as well as for their meat and milk,” said Mahmut Davulcu, a folk culture researcher from the directorate.

Camels are believed to have been domesticated in the 3000s BCE but have only been in Anatolia since the 300s BCE, Davulcu said. Camels were used for transport in Anatolia until the 20th century.

Central Asian camels have two humps while Arabic camels have one, Davulcu said. While camels were already in Anatolia, more came with the Turks when they appeared in the area in the 11th century CE, he said.

Paintings+21“They were used in many fields. People benefited even from their urine. But their most important function was military and in transportation. These functions continued until the 20th century. Later as technology developed and new technological tools appeared, they lost their use. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute [TÜIK], there are some 1,500 camels in Anatolia. Their number in Antalya is 169. Among them 146 are adults and 23 are young camels,” Davulcu said. Camels continue to be bred for only two reasons, camel wrestling and touristic tours.

“Wrestling camels can be found more in Antalya’s western districts Demre and Kumluca. The ones used for touristic purposes are in the central and eastern parts of the city,” he said. 

Researcher Mustafa Tokat, who is conducting work with Davulcu, said camel culture died out in Turkey due to high costs.

“Both the ministry and Antalya region do not want this tradition to die out. Starting in January 2016, we have followed the Kumluca and Demre camel wrestling competitions and documented them. The work should be finished in December this year. We think the book will be ready in 2018,” Tokat said.


2 thoughts on “Turkey’s Camel Culture

    • I haven’t seen it live – but it’s quite big down the Aegean coast of Turkey. I’ve seen the camels all decked out and parading around the towns and villages. It’s pretty popular in certain circles – with betting of course.

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