The village lives by growing crops and keeping animals. fixed farming, which I call agriculture, though it includes horticulture and animal husbandry, is the main source of income and the main occupation. Everyone has some direct connection with it, and almost everyone puts work on the land before any other kind of work, emotionally, morally and in practice.
Both villages grow mainly cereals. In Elbashï, the commonest is wheat, as in most plateau villages; in Sakaltutan, exceptionally, rye, though both villages grow both. They also grow some barley, and a crop of mixed wheat and rye, which produces a flour considered specially appetising for bread-making.
Yields are poor. People do not normally express these by area but by return for seed sown. Estimates for normal yields varied considerably, and the different types of measurement involved made comparisons unreliable. Five for one was generally agreed to be the figure in Sakaltutan, though in fact in 1949, I950 and 1951, the harvest was considerably below these modest expectations. In Elbashï yields seemed slightly higher, and in 1951 and 1952, Elbashï had satisfactory harvests. Normal yields appeared to be about eight cwt per acre (one metric ton per ha.) in Sakaltutan and perhaps about ten cwt in Elbashï (II metric tons per ha.).
Agricultural efficiency is further impeded by the familiar problem of fragmented
holdings. The pattern of fragmentation varies between the more distant, less fertile
land, where some villagers still retain fairly large fields, and the valuable well
manured land close to the village, where the pieces may be minute. This difference
is readily explicable in terms of the
history of village land holding, discussed in Chapter 7. A typical example of fragmentation is shown in Fig. 4.
In Sakaltutan, many households were making, or had recently made, small walled gardens for themselves, usually a patch of land near the village, in which they grew vines, fruit trees and vegetables. These were said to be at most ten years old, but in spite of doubts about the long-term success of these in so severe a climate, more and more people were following suit. Another recent innovation was the planting of potatoes and onions for the Kayseri market. Ground peas (nohut), lentils, fodder crops and even a little irrigated alfalfa immediately below the meadow were also grown.
Elbashï had fewer and even more recent gardens. It had the advantage of irrigated land, but most of this seems to be used either for alfalfa, for water meadows or for growing rather more successful cereals.
In both villages, almost all households aimed to produce a surplus of cereals
for sale, and after the harvest the village hummed with activity as everyone jostled
to get his own grain sacks on the lorries before his neighbours. In Sakaltutan, and
for the smaller and poorer households in Elbashï, the habit of cash-cropping
was a new one, developed under the stimulus of a government guaranteed price for
grain. The first aim of
cultivation is still to produce food for one's own household.
Animals are an equally vital part of the village economy. For draught, the villagers used mainly oxen and water buffaloes. The milk of the cows of both is a valuable item of diet, very often eaten as yoghurt, and their dung is the main source of fuel. Occasionally they are sold for meat, or ceremonially eaten in the village. In Elbashï, in recent years, horses have partially replaced oxen as draught animals. People say there are about a hundred teams of horses in the village now, though oxen or water buffaloes are still commoner. Most households own a few sheep, and many own small flocks. In Sakaltutan, one or two men owned flocks of up to forty or fifty, and in Elbashï one or two up to two hundred. The sheep, (the karamanlï breed), are small, hardy and have large fat tails. They are kept as much for their milk and their tails as for their wool and meat. Chickens are to be seen everywhere - scavenging in the latrines, or messing in the houses. Some people keep pigeons for meat and manure.
The technical processes in Sakaltutan are still almost entirely traditional. The
plough in common use is the usual light wooden Middle East plough (Morrison (1938)
Chap. II, figs 21, 23; Aran (1938) p. 86, fig. 33), seed is sown by hand, reaping
is, done partly by sickle, which the women wield, and partly by the scythe, a fairly
recent innovation used almost exclusively by men. Villages to the east were in 1950
said still to be using only sickles. The crops are threshed by driving a special
sledge, the underside of which is studded with flints, round and round over the grain.
It is drawn by oxen or horses, or even by donkeys. This not only threshes, but chops
the straw up fine. Straw is always stored and fed to animals in this chopped form.
People were incredulous when I said that animals in England eat straw in the stalk.
They winnow simply by tossing the chopped straw, chaff and grain into a breeze. Transport
is by two-wheeled ox-cart, similar to those depicted on Hittite monuments. The axle
turns with the solid wheels, making a screeching squeak against the frame if the
cart is loaded. Eight households had European-type steel ploughs
in I950, but did not seem to make much use of them.
The bulk of the work in Elbashï is done by identical methods. The number of steel ploughs is very much higher, however, and many are used. Many households have horse-drawn fourwheeled carts. Kara Osman (Ax) (p. 145) had introduced machinery some years ago; an old combine harvester was rusting away in a corner, and one of his sons ran the tractor. Now tractors and combine harvesters are available for the villagers to hire. By 1952, one villager had purchased a new tractor and set of machinery under the government easy credit scheme. When combine harvesters are used, the straw has to be chopped up afterwards by traditional methods.
During the winter months, weather conditions make outside work impossible. The women are busy in the houses, using time spared from the daily cooking and cleaning for weaving, mending, knitting and spinning; but for about four months, from the end of November to the end of March, the men have no work to do but feed and water the animals, which are kept in the stables and fed on straw, eked out with some meal or bought feed.
As soon as the spring comes, the men get busy. The oxen weakened by the long winter must be got into training for work, and spring ploughing and sowing must be done. The ox-herds and shepherds take charge of the animals. The sheep are lambing and in each household a woman must be ready at midday to milk the ewes. Ploughing and sowing of spring wheat and barley is immediately followed by the ploughing of the year's fallow, which goes on perhaps into May, even until June, depending on individual circumstances. Meanwhile, the vineyards must be dug over, and potatoes and other vegetables sown. Most of this latter work is done by women.
In June, all the grasses and weeds growing in odd places among the crops are cut for hay, again mostly by women. During late May and June the men are comparatively idle. In July the harvest begins, first with vetch and lentils, then with the main crops of rye and wheat. Threshing follows the reaping; reaping, threshing, and storing together last for about two months, two months of ceaseless activity for everyone; a whole household frequently works right through a moonlit night.
In September the pressure eases. As soon as rain falls on the
hard baked ground - even before, if the rains are late - the men must plough again and sow their winter rye and wheat. By November there remains for the men only a visit to town to lay in supplies of coffee, paraffin, salt and so on, and perhaps cheap vegetables for the winter months of isolation, and then idleness again until the spring. One villager, unsolicited, told me that the peasants only work for four months a year - a month in the spring, a month in the autumn, and two months at the harvest. He was overstating his case and, as someone commented, in two months' harvesting they do four months' work; but the idea of having, like an English agricultural labourer, to work for wages day in and day out all the year round was greeted with horror.
In all the villages of this area, a two-year fallow system operates. One-half of the village land is sown one year, and the other left fallow and used for pasture (de Planhol (1958) pp. 3I7 ff.). The village herds and flocks are transferred from one side to the other after the harvest, to glean the harvested fields and eat the stubble. Soon after the completion of the harvest, autumn ploughing and sowing on the fallow land begins; the fields from which the crops have been reaped become fallow for the next year. This system prevents any individual from planting the same fields in successive years, except for a few walled fields immediately adjoining the village, where manuring and special crops make it agriculturally advantageous, and the animals can easily be kept off. Each man farms his own plots quite independently of his neighbours, so that he is free to plough and sow when he wishes, and to sow what crops he pleases. He may, should he wish, miss one or more turns of the cycle; that is, he can leave land fallow for three, five, or more, years instead of one, so long as he sows it in a year when it is part of the village pasture. On the other hand, he dare not lag behind his neighbours at the harvest, lest the flocks and herds are turned on to the land before his crops are reaped and away.
Each village has a territory surrounding the village settlement, over which it
has formal administrative rights. This territory acts as a symbol of village political
identity. The economically
important common rights to this territory are pastoral, though these are not explicitly recognised in the Civil Code. Flocks and herds of villagers are pastured free only within village territory. Sometimes villages own patches of mountain pasture not contiguous with their main territory (cf. de Planhol (I958) pp. 293 f.). All villages are zealous in keeping other villages animals out of their territories. The boundaries are known, and since 1924, they have been required to be registered with the local District Officer. Before this, boundaries seem to have been much vaguer (Aran (1937) p. 26; Yasa (1957) p. 18), depending on the coincidence of local memories and traditions, and sometimes with unclaimed land forming a buffer. Since the population and the cultivated areas were smaller, the land available for pasture was greater and the likelihood of clashes between villages therefore less, though undoubtedly disputes and fights over this issue occurred, as they still do.
Anomalously, under the present law, the cultivated land within the village territory belongs outright to its private owners, who can dispose of it as they choose. In practice, land is not often sold, and when it is, it is normally sold to close kin or to neighbours. I can recall no instance of village land being sold to a complete outsider (p. 127). Moreover, the exercise of the individual rights involves de facto co-operation with other villagers. The land can only be cropped in alternate years, in accordance with the village fallow system described before. Success depends on the protection of the village herdsman and watchman, and only a resident owner or tenant can be sure of this protection. Some land in most villages is in fact owned by outsiders, but almost always by close kin of village families. One or two people living in villages near Sakaltutan worked land inside the Sakaltutan territory, if it was not too far from their own homes, and similarly some Sakaltutan men held and worked land in other villages. In other cases, kin living elsewhere, who had inherited rights to a share of land, let it on a share-cropping basis to their kin in the village and came annually at the harvest to collect their share of produce.
Besides cultivated land, house sites and land in the settled area are owned privately, and occasionally water meadow or threshing sites are also so owned.
Close to every village are areas of meadow for casual grazing,
and places for threshing. In Sakaltutan one patch of land above the village was known as harman, the threshing floor, and another patch below, better watered, was called cayir, the meadow, but both were used by all the villagers for both purposes. Both areas were village common land. In Elbashï there was also a patch of common meadow used for both purposes, though much threshing took place inside the village area on privately owned patches of bare rock where grain could not be lost in the dust, and much of the extensive area of water meadow was also privately owned. People sometimes stick to the same site on common land for threshing year after year, but no fixed rights are recognised. Some villages also communally own cultivable land or cropped meadow which is hired out to village tenants. The proceeds go to the village chest.
The rest of the land within the village territories is used for pasture by the flocks and herds. Most of this is waste land rocky slopes and bare hill tops - but it usually includes, in dells and valleys, patches of richer watered pasture. Technically, such land is the property of the State, but this provision has almost no practical consequences. Villagers can in fact plough it up and thus in time establish rights to it, if the rest of the village takes no steps to prevent them.
In Sakaltutan, almost all land worth having which was not essential for pasture had already passed into private hands, but there is still occasionally trouble because someone encroaches on fertile village pasture. In Elbashï whose territory is much larger, only in the last few years, with the great increase in cash cropping, had the village combined to prevent members from ploughing land as they wished. In the recent past, only members of the village community, or men with some village connection, were permitted to acquire land by this method, and casual strangers were prevented, informally but effectively, from settling in the village for this purpose, except for refugees (p. 23). This de facto right to take over unused land was an important addition to the joint rights which the villagers had over their territory. Once this encroachment is permitted, the village as a corporation eventually loses legal control of the land.
Full legal title to land can be established in three ways. A man may be the holder
registered in a formal title deed, called a tafu; he may hold tax receipts, showing
him to be the owner;
or he may be able to show that he has been ploughing the land for twenty years.
Among the villagers, though people sometimes claim to hold the deeds, no one appears to take them very seriously. When land changes hands at the death of the owner, or by purchase, people do not go through the costly bureaucratic and legal procedure of altering the deeds, so that these are normally out of date.
Tax receipts are much more important. The land had been assessed for tax about 1938, by visiting officials working with the headman and a committee of villagers. Recognition as owner both by the State and the village is binding, unless misappropriation is subsequently established in court.
The legal provision that any land held in undisputed possession for twenty years becomes automatically the legal property of the possessor is known to the villagers, but not regarded as of much importance. In fact, it provides the main basis for rendering legal the de facto situation. What matters to a villager is simply whether he can in practice plough a certain piece of land without trouble, and this depends not on his legal rights, but on the acceptance of his customary rights by his local community. Only when he is challenged is a villager interested in establishing legal rights, in order to be able to defend himself with the power of the State. By this provision, his undisturbed holding, outside the law, of a piece of land for twenty years automatically confers full legal rights should he require them. To establish formally evidence of such rights is, however, costly and complex, unless he is prepared to wait for the next tax assessment and declare the land for tax for ever after. For this reason, most villagers do not have established legal rights to all the land they regard as theirs.
The land owned by members of a household is worked communally by them under the direction of the household head. Most land belongs to household heads, but women may own in their own right; and sometimes stepsons or a brother's child living in a household may own part of the household land.
Household holdings of land vary greatly. In Elbashï a few
households were well-off for land but most of the household holdings of both villages ranged from moderate to very poor. I did not attempt in either village to measure holdings, and I found people unwilling, and often genuinely unable, to give accurate figures of their extent. Sometimes they gave figures for the amount they worked in a single year of the two-year fallow cycle, sometimes they included their holdings `on both sides'. Where the household land was owned by more than one person, or where some land was legally owned and additional land had been acquired by ploughing village pasture or borrowed for share-cropping, it was not easy to sort out the meaning of the figure I was given.
To make matters worse, the units of land measurement are by no means fixed. The common unit is a dönüm, (from dönmek to turn) traditionally the amount of land a man can plough in a day. The government has fixed the dönüm for official purposes as equal to one decare, about a quarter of an acre. But the village dönüm varies not only from village to village, but also from man to man, and field to field. Most informants in Sakaltutan and the surrounding villages said the dönüm was forty paces by forty paces, but in Elbashï people said sixty by sixty or eighty by eighty, and one man even said a hundred by a hundred. They had not, I am sure, grasped that the smallest of these areas, very roughly one decare, is about one-sixth of the largest. Informants stated that a village dönüm was twice or three times a government dönüm. I have therefore taken the Sakaltutan dönüm as two decares (half an acre), and the Elbashï dönüm as two and a half decares (five-eighths of an acre). I managed to get an estimate in dönüm for every household in Sakaltutan, and these I give in Table 3. In Elbashï, only a minority of households gave me such estimates, but by use of the village system of classes for assessment of village tax (p. 32)1 have worked out figures in which I feel reasonable confidence.
The total quantity of land a man owns is not, of course, a direct index of his
wealth, since land varies in value. But it can be fairly safely assumed that the
greater part of the village arable land is poor and dry, and that with a few exceptions
the valuable irrigated and manured land is roughly divided among the owners.in proportion
to their total holdings.
1) Landless households; and those owning little and unable to work it themselves - for example, widows.
(2) Includes a few with little or no land, which either share cropped others' land, or practised a regular craft or trade.
(3) Includes a few with more land.
(4) One or two have even more. Up to his death in 1951, Kara Osman (Ax), held `more than 1,000 dönüm; even if these are `government dönüm he held over 100 ha.
Land is no good unless it is worked. To work it, manpower, draught animals, tools and seed are all necessary. For want of one or more of these owners are sometimes forced to leave land uncultivated. If the land is sufficiently valuable it is often hired out to a neighbour on a share-cropping basis. The terms are fairly standard, though details may vary. The owner pays all taxes, is expected to help with the harvest, and takes half the crop , and half the straw. The share-cropper supplies animals, equipment and labour in return for the remaining half. Seed is usually provided by the owner, but whoever provides it is entitled to deduct an equivalent amount from the winnowed grain before the division. Share-cropping is arranged ad hoc and partnerships vary greatly from season to season. It is not a system of permanent landlord-tenant relations. There is no definite date for fixing contracts and neither side has any right to continue the arrangement beyond one season. It may of course be renewed annually, and may in some cases continue for years, but fluctuations in man- and ox-power in one household or the other, dissatisfaction with each other's conduct, or some change in the social situation is always liable to upset it.
Whereas land in Sakaltutan was short, in Elbashï it was plentiful. Share-croppers were easy to find in Sakaltutan, and many people were keen to take on more land if they could get it. In Elbashï on the other hand, most agricultural households had land, and the total amount of available land in proportion to labour and oxen was greater. In consequence share-croppers were difficult to find, and they would not take on the poorest land at all since the half of a poor yield did not repay the labour and expense involved.
Those who put their land out to share-croppers are not necessarily the well-to-do. They include the aged, the sick the widows, or those who have lost or been forced to sell their oxen or are short of seed. In many such cases a kinsman works the land, and may claim that he is doing so as a duty rather than for his own benefit. Others let out their land to free themselves. for some other occupation.
Correspondingly, those who take on share-cropping are not the poorest village
households. To share-crop a man needs
Total adult working male population
(approximately 16 years and above) 171
These figures are based on my notebooks. The balance of 41 men without a `Main Source of Income' are unmarried youths, mainly living and working in their fathers' households. A few may be unskilled workers whose temporary migrations I failed to record.
Fixed rents for land are known, but rare. They are much less profitable, but have the advantage that the tenant cannot cheat. Owners of land in other villages who let to people they do not trust and cannot watch sometimes prefer them.
The agricultural economy creates demand both for agricultural labour and for a number of specialised services. Other demands arise from more elementary human needs, more especially houses, domestic utensils and clothes Some of the village population lives by meeting these demands, both by production and trade.
Almost all the work of cultivation is done directly by the household labour of the owner or share-cropper. Only rarely, because of an emergency or miscalculation, or in order to avoid the need to share-crop, does anyone employ agricultural labour. Other jobs - the commonest is building - are available from time to time. Usually the poor or landless take such employment, but people with some standing in the village will work if they have the opportunity, and are short of money for a specific purpose.. In 1950 the rate was T.L.1.5 a day, plus food, (3s 9d., U.S. $0.55) about half the rate for casual labour in the towns.
At harvest time the situation is reversed; the demand for labour is intense. Those who have no harvest of their own may work on a contract for those who have large harvests, either for a share or for a fixed quantity of grain. Others work on a daily basis. As much as T.L.5 (12s. 6d., $1.80) was paid for a full day's reaping.
Prosperous households had another method of recruiting labour. Young men or even
married couples were taken on as servants (çirak) on a yearly contract for their
keep and a small emolument in cash (p. 61). One
orphan from another village was çirak in Elbashï, and one young man of
Sakaltutan was çirak in a distant village. Another orphan had been çirak
to at least
two village households before his marriage. In the recent past the system seems to have been far more common.
The decline of the çirak system is a symptom of the decline in the availability of casual labour. This decline is relative; Turkey still has a problem of under-employment. But the demand for migrant labour and the spread of cash-cropping have undoubtedly used up some surplus labour in the villages. Allowing for the usual misrepresentation of the past, comments in Elbashï indicated clearly that not long ago casual labour was much more common, and many more households lacked the resources to cultivate in their own right.
Besides better-off individuals, the community itself is an important employer, needing herdsmen, guards, and, in Elbashï water supervisors.
The duties of the village herdsmen vary with the type of animals and the season. In Sakaltutan two shepherds and two boy lamb-herds are appointed in the spring, but in the autumn, when some of the sheep are sent away to pasture elsewhere, one of each is sufficient. Goats are herded with the sheep. One man is responsible for the cows for about eight months from spring to the first snow, and a boy looks after the calves and asses. Two ox-herds work from the spring until the beginning of the harvest, taking the oxen off by night to pasture and returning them to their owners at daybreak ready to work. The water buffaloes are separately pastured in the same way. Thus a total of six men and three boys are employed for a limited period in the course of each year.
The arrangements in Elbashï are similar but on a larger scale because the village owns far more animals. They have, for example, eight shepherds and four lamb-herds as well as separate herdsmen for horses and foals. The total number employed in a year, again for varying periods, is about twenty-four.
In both villages the village as a whole employs the herdsmen for all animals except
sheep and goats. In Sakaltutan they appear to carry out their duties according to
their own intelligence, but in Elbashïthe headman exercises a definite control
over them, directing them daily where to take their herds. The shepherds in Elbashï
are employed on a private basis by leading households in each part of the village,
and lesser men
attach their sheep, according to convenience and social ties, to whichever flock they choose. In Sakaltutan the two main quarters, each acting jointly, engaged a shepherd and a shepherd-boy each in the spring.
In almost all cases the herdsmen are paid per capita by each household which sends animals to their herd, and the amount is settled by bargaining as so much per beast. Ox-herds are paid more because they work at night though for less time. Roughly it works out at about T.L.280 (£35, $100) for a session. Some villages had in 1950 recently changed over to the payment of shepherds by fixed sums in money, which they still collected themselves by dividing it among the owners according to the number of animals. In these cases T.L.300 (£37 10s., $110) was becoming the standard rate.
Just before the harvest each year field watchmen (sing. tarla bekcisi), are appointed to patrol the ripening crops. These are responsible to the headman and were also paid about T.L.300 for some three months' work. In Sakaltutan in 1950 no watchmen were appointed, possibly because the headman did not bother; the reason given was the poverty of everyone following the disastrous harvest of 1949.
For a brief period in June when water is in demand before the harvest, two men are appointed to see fair play over water rights. The system has four branches, and in 1951 people using the water had to pay the overseers 10 kurush an hour so that they received T.L.4.80 (13s., $1 .80) per day each, which was good by village standards.
The village watchman received at most about T.L.300 a year, less than T.L.200 in Sakaltutan, which was sometimes paid in cash from the village chest, and sometimes in kind, household by household. Village watchmen cannot, in their year of office, migrate or work regularly because of their duties, but most pick up casual jobs and work at the harvest.
During I949 to I950 only one man in Sakaltutan received a government salary. This was the teacher (p. 275) and he was only paid T.L.40 (£5, $14) a month.
Elbashï had rather more officials. Apart from the nahiye müdürü
himself there were the three schoolmasters, the rural school inspector, known as
a `travelling headmaster' (gezici bashö§retmen), and the secretary of the
Credit Co-operative, in
effect an official of the Agricultural Bank. There was also a village secretary (köy katibi), who was secretary in theory for a number of villages, and was paid by small contributions from each for doing very little indeed.
The production of other goods in the villages is limited, but a small range of skills is found, and these play some part in the economy.
One skill is practised in almost every household in this area, namely weaving. The local wool is too coarse to make into clothing but it does make excellent rugs (kilims), saddlebags and grainsacks. The wool is washed, spun, dyed and woven exclusively by the women, and it is rare to see a woman relaxing without a spindle in her hand. Almost every household has a simple household loom, at which the girls work when there is nothing else to do, learning the traditional patterns from their mothers. Every girl is expected to weave for her own trousseau, and her skill enhances her bride-price. Carpets are also woven by hand in many villages but this is a more skilled job. No household in Sakaltutan, and few in Elbashï knew how to weave carpets; this skill is usually a sign of greater wealth and prestige. The village supplies its own needs: the saddlebags and sacks with their bay colours are everywhere in use, and every guest room is carpeted with village-made kilims and carpets, but a great many are sold as well. Allowing for the cost of the wool, which would have been sold raw, and for the dyes which have to be purchased, the profit per day's labour is exceedingly small. On the other hand this work is all done by women in time when they would otherwise be idle. Weaving is peculiar in being the only craft practised by women, the only craft which produces for export from the village area, and the only craft which processes raw materials produced by village agriculture.
Traditionally many villages in Turkey must have grown fibres and, with the help
of home-produced wool, made at least some of their own clothing. Some distant villages
in the area were known to weave cloth, but all the cloth in the villages I knew is
now factory produced. The women make it up into clothes for themselves and their
menfolk. Occasionally people
bought ready-made, new or secondhand clothes in Kayseri, especially men's trousers and jackets. Although much sewing goes on in the villages no household in Sakaltutan, and only one sophisticated household in Elbashï, owned a sewing machine.
The most common male crafts are those of mason, carpenter and smith. A lot of new building is going on in the villages, partly to provide for an expanding population, partly to replace old houses whose lack of amenities is no longer acceptable. The demand is steady. All villages contain some skilled masons and almost all new construction is built by them. During my stay only one unskilled man built anything for himself. It was a small guest room and its rather amateur appearance provoked mild scorn. Clearly one needed a professionally built house for prestige. Houses need doors and windows, and in special cases wooden floors, and these needs are met by village carpenters. Smiths make tools, nails, hinges and so forth, put metal tyres on cartwheels and shoe horses.
The masons in the two villages always worked on specific contracts. No one lived entirely by the craft of mason. This skill lent itself to export, and masons were potential migrants, though one or two who built village houses had never been away to work in town. The masons were paid about T.L.5 (12s. 6d., $ 1.80) a day when working in the village, three times an unskilled labourer's pay and about half what they earned in town.
Sakaltutan contained a family of carpenters. The father Ziya (S), vigorous but
no longer young, had learned his trade as a young man outside the village and his
three adult sons were all carpenters too. He himself no longer migrated but his sons
did. He was kept busy all the time by orders, from other villages as well as Sakaltutan,
and often worked away in his oda while neighbours came to sit and talk. He was always
ready with a lecture on the virtues of hard work, and the need to maintain his family
in decency. His brother farmed their joint patrimony, though they had separate households.
He never disclosed what he earned but he certainly did not under-value his services,
and would not have accepted less than the rate for skilled work. Just before the
harvest his family and that of a rival carpenter, his father's brother's son, who
normally migrated for work, were busy making threshing sledges. The putting of the
into these is said to be highly skilled work. Enquiries about profits brought very varying answers, but even the more modest estimates gave a profit over materials of a good T.L.10 per sledge, and set one day as the time to make one; T.L.I0 a day is twice the normal village skilled rate.
Elbashï contained no full-time carpenter, but did have a full-time smith. His father was alive, and in I95I to I952 he was still sharing a common household. After much humming and hawing he said he thought he made about T.L.200 (£25, $70) a month: the income of a lowly government official.
Elbashï had a number of other specialists. Two barbers and a man who made sheet iron cooking stoves lived by their trade. A piper and a drummer made enough in the winter wedding season, eked out by watching the village fields in the summer, to make a decent living. Others, another stove-maker for example, shoe repairers, and a cave digger combined their speciality with working their land, and some did odd jobs for neighbours rather as a favour. Similarly one man in Sakaltutan, who was an expert glass-cutter, did odd carpentry jobs, while another welded rubber shoes.
These craftsmen then range from the man who happens to have a reputation for performing some particular service, and will do it if asked, to full-time skilled craftsmen who live by their craft. Where skills overlap those of migrant labourers, for example masons and carpenters, a man may live mainly by migrant labour and practice his craft in the village in only a desultory way.
Traditionally skills were learned by a period of apprenticeship: çirak, p. 56) boys lived with and worked for a craftsman, picking up the trade from him. Others recently have learned skills in the army, and now the government runs special shorttermmobile schools in selected villages for boys to learn the elements of woodwork and metalwork. One such course came to Elbashï in the autumn of I951. Otherwise skills are passed from father to son or sometimes taught to other close kin.
One new skill is popular among the young men: shöför or lorry driver.
A Turkish driver needs to be able to do his own running repairs without help from
roadside garages and without a supply of standard spare parts, so this skill is not
easily mastered. Although it is common for a driver to work on a lorry that
passes through or is owned in his own village, these driver-mechanics are perhaps more properly classed as migrant labourers.
The villagers are visited by travelling craftsmen of various types: tinsmiths, sawyers who make planks from baulks of timber for the carpenters, smiths who specialise in shoeing oxen, and so on.
On one occasion, a troop of Abdaller, a wandering ethnic group rather like gypsies, came to Sakaltutan and camped on the meadow for about three days, selling and repairing sieves -which are much used by villagers for a variety of purposes.
Even the traditional economy of the village was far from self-sufficient. Cloth, iron, timber, string and thread, utensils and tools, tea, coffee, sugar and its substitute, pekmez, (boiled down grape juice), were always imported, and probably other odds and ends, including local fruits and vegetables in season. Now the volume and the variety of retail goods are much greater and they are supplied by three main sources: shops in the villages, itinerant traders, and merchants and shopkeepers in the towns.
Elbashï was blessed with a number of general shops. Of these about four seemed to be permanent businesses and another half a dozen to be intermittent. A man who happens to have or manages to obtain credit may buy a small stock of retail goods and sell them off, spending the money as he goes along. At the end of the period he has no means of replacing the stock, and the shop closes. These short-lived enterprises may sell only a few lines; fruit in season is common. The more permanent shops stock salt, sugar, sweets, soap, matches, cigarettes, paraffin (kerosene), notebooks, cloth, especially white cloth for making shrouds for the dead, sewing cotton, buttons, combs and so - on the typical stock of a village shop. Much of the business is done for grain, and much of it on credit. It is the difficulty of refusing a neighbour credit in the first place, and of collecting debts in the second, which sinks many intermittent shops.
When I first went to live in Sakaltutan it had no shop at all, though one or two
had existed. One man borrowed the capital from me to buy a small stock of apples
and helva, a sweet made
of nut and honey, but this enterprise was very short-lived. In January 1950 a stranger, a son-in-law of a villager, set up a temporary shop for the winter months only, and the following year Haci Osman (K) established a permanent shop (p. 7)
The rapid rise in national income from I950 to I953, combined with the beginning of serious inflation, brought much more money and some increase in real income to the villagers, with a resulting increase in the demand both for manufactured goods and a wider diet. The number of shops in the area was steadily increasing.
I found it difficult to assess how profitable the shops were. Their prices were higher than town prices, because apart from the costs of transport, they worked on a higher profit margin on a lower turnover - though I am not sure that village shopkeepers could buy wholesale as cheaply as town retailers. The acceptance of payment in kind further increased the shopkeeper's margin because he priced grain below what he would sell it for. Against this the impossibility of refusing credit and the difficulty of collecting debts made it a doubtful means of earning a living. The more temporary shops were usually run by poor men, but several of the permanent shops were sidelines run by the better-off. Full-time shopkeeping seemed to provide no more than a modest standard of living.
Small retail trade was also carried on by numerous pedlars. These varied considerably. In Sakaltutan two of the poorest villagers used to bring donkey-loads of fruit or vegetables in season, combs and other cheap odds and ends to Sakaltutan and other villages, exchanging them for eggs and grain. Pedlars of this type are mostly villagers. Even this enterprise required a minimum capital or credit with a merchant, and some degree of judgement of the market.
Besides these, more specialised pedlars and travelling salesmen would arrive, from towns or from more prosperous villages nearer Kayseri. Some sold earthenware pots; others, more prosperous, sold cloth, usually carried by horse; others traded in oxen. This last was a more complex business, involving long-term credit. Oxen cost even then from T.L.200 to T.L.800 a pair, (,£25-£100, $7o to $280), and the payments were usually spaced over three years.
Anything imported into the village can be bought more
cheaply in town. Most household heads have occasion to go to town from time to time, and bring back supplies with them. The lorries and buses which run in from the villages will carry more or less any load at a fairly modest charge, and the household income comes in large bursts. It is therefore possible for even a fairly poor household to lay in considerable stocks. Indeed, it is essential in Sakaltutan to find money for winter supplies after the harvest since the road to town is usually blocked completely to wheeled traffic for up to three months.
Trading in town is not entirely simple. Villagers are suspicious, perhaps rightly, of traders, and in spite of the arrangement of the market by which most of the streets are devoted to a single type of shop with full-scale competition, villagers normally have their known friends to whom they always go. These may allow them credit. One village or one set of kin and neighbours tends to concentrate on the same merchant so that he has a good deal to lose by failing one of them. People use the town merchants mainly for large orders and major purchases. Before a wedding, for example all the necessary cloth, clothes and extra food are bought on an expedition to town. When I gave a feast to the village to mark my departure, I was taken into town to buy rice and other necessaries.
One major village export is labour. Villages vary greatly in the numbers who migrate and in their degree of skill.
One extreme is represented by a band of villages nearer Kayseri with an established tradition of building labour. In one of these I was told that all but six households lived by migrant labour, all the adults being skilled migrants who were away from home from April to December. The Kayseri region has a national reputation for skill in building. One of the villages near Talas produced Mimar Sinan, architect of the great mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul.
Elbashï stands at the other extreme. With as much land as its working population could comfortably cultivate, it had only a small trickle of migrants, and many of these were only away for short periods between the busy seasons.
The villages around Sakaltutan fell between these two types.
Land shortage here is fairly recent and, combined with the opening of communication, has led to the spread of the Kayseri tradition to these villages but on a smaller and less systematic scale. From Table 5 (p. 55) it is clear that the two main categories of migrants are building trade craftsmen and unskilled labourers. In this list, which is made up only from my notes of comings and goings during my stay, those listed under main occupation include both household heads who have little or no alternative source of income, and those who either own land which is let to share-croppers, or are members of land owning joint households to which they contribute cash and in which they have full rights to support. The first are likely to stay away from the village for nine months each year, the second may well return to help with, and in some cases also to watch over their share of, the harvest. Those who combine agriculture and migration are even more unpredictable in their comings and goings. Indeed, every adult male is a potential migrant if misfortune or special needs drive him to earn outside the village.
Thirty-nine men were skilled building trade operatives. Plasterers predominated, I was told, because this was the easiest skill to pick up. The first plasterer in Sakaltutan, Hasan (V), had learned his trade ten years before from a friend, and had then taught his kin, and thus the skill had spread through the village. Almost all the plasterers were young men and recent recruits to the trade.
Labour for building is apparently recruited by a hierarchical system of contracting and subcontracting, so that there are often several levels between the contractor who undertakes to build a building and the workman who puts the bricks and plaster together. Thus, finding regular work depends on establishing and maintaining contacts with people in the next level above oneself. At least two men in Sakaltutan were one level up from the bottom in this system; they took on large amounts of work from contractors and then subcontracted part of it to their friends. A position at this level gave a man much greater continuity of work, higher profit, and the power to dispense employment to his neighbours and friends.
The ordinary skilled men also worked on contract. They claimed to be able to earn
from T.L.7 to T.L.12 a day (17s. 6d. to £l 10s., $2.40 to $4.20); the standard
answer was T.L.10.
This is more than three times the earning of an unskilled labourer, and twice the earning of a craftsman in the villages. (By 1955 these earnings had doubled.) In theory, then, by working every day a man could earn T.L.300 a month. Against this, living expenses were estimated at about T.L.40 a month. But work it seems was almost always intermittent and undisciplined. The men had, or took, many free days when they were not merely not earning but spending. But they did send or bring money home, and T.L.100 a month (£12 10s., $35) seemed to be about the expected savings of a skilled man.
The other large category of migrant labourers were the unskilled. Amele, the normal word in use in the village, distinguished these sharply from the craftsmen, usta. The rewards were comparatively puny - T.L.3 a day (7s. 6d., $I .00). Men away as labourers lived harder and spent less, and generally seemed to save at the rate of about T.L.50 a month. Many of those listed as unskilled migrants were casual labourers in the building trade, often boys, with one eye firmly on becoming an usta. Only a few, too old to learn a skill, or too stupid, were compelled to try to keep a household largely by unskilled labouring alone.
Climatic differences in agricultural seasons have led to traditional seasonal migrations of agricultural labour in many different parts of Turkey, quite apart from migration to the towns (de Planhol (1958) p. 172). In 1950 to 1952 some people from Sakaltutan, Elbashï and the surrounding villages went down to the Kayseri plain, to work there on the earlier harvest. Some even went as far as the Adana plain south of the Taurus Mountains. Probably this type of migration was formerly more important and has declined with the increase in the population of the plains, the increase in alternative possibilities for migrant labour, and the beginnings of mechanisation (Faculty of Political Science, Ankara I952). For those few who still go, this shortlived and well paid migration is worth while, coinciding as it does with the lull in work in the upland villages before their own harvest begins, and requiring only skills that every villager is bred to.
Five other villagers had established other occupations for themselves. Two were
porters in Kayseri. Turkish towns are full of porters who will carry more or less
They are organised, and only recognised members are permitted to ply for hire in the streets. But though better than casual labouring, it is lowly, chancy, and not normally a lucrative occupation. More interesting were the two men who had worked their way as stallholders into the marketing of vegetables in the fashionable part of Ankara. This is also a closed group, entered presumably by personal contact and perhaps a period of apprenticeship. Apparently it was the source of a variable but on balance highly satisfactory income. Both men had switched to this occupation from that of migrant craftsman. One other had recently returned to the village after two years away as a cook, at a salary said to be T.L. 150 a month.
Under the first Turkish five-year plan, 1934 to 1939 (Herschlag (1960) pp. 104-5) factories had been deliberately sited in the hinterland in order to spread the social effects of industry as widely as possible. In I950 the Russian-built textile mill at Kayseri was still the largest in Turkey, though larger ones were by then under construction. The factory employed about three thousand workers. Wages increased with length of service and included a number of special benefits: childrens' allowances, marriage bounties, barracks for village men who had left their families behind, and free medical services and amusements. Five men worked in this factory. The wages paid were much less than those of casual skilled work, but the steady income year in and year out made it attractive. The men normally returned to the village on Saturday and left again on Sunday evening or Monday morning. The discipline and the severe limitation of family life were the main drawbacks. Wages varied from about T.L.60 a month for a floor sweeper, barely a living wage even for a villager, to T.L.150 for a machine operator with long service.
This external income had several effects on the village economy. Primarily it
injected a large quantity of cash. People said that money had formerly been rare
in the villages, and most economic exchange was carried on in kind. Now a considerable
number of households prefer to meet their obligations with cash. Secondly, some of
the money earned outside is spent in the village on employing labour for housing,
or buying food from neighbours. Thirdly, it may in some instances provide capital
for new types of enterprise (p. 70). Fourthly, the
migrant craftsmen return to the village with urban accoutrements: suits, shoes, watches, pens. They tended to furnish their homes with more comfort and modern gadgets. Sooner or later this is bound to stimulate the general level of village demand, though apart from improvements in housing, this process had hardly begun in 1952.
In Elbashï, the range of jobs was similar. Apart from several building trade craftsmen, there was a man who had been a clerk in Istanbul, a member of the locally recruited Kayseri Watch (a body which assisted the state urban police), a Kayseri carter, and one or two porters. Others went off casually as unskilled labourers, though in Elbashï casual jobs inside the village were more readily available.
Recruiting is partly a matter of messages reaching the village through established channels, and partly a matter of casual decision. The better known and more skilled regulars sometimes receive explicit invitations from friends. The rest rely on rumour and general gossip about the possibilities in various parts of the country, or simply go off to search. The general election of 1950, for example, slowed down construction work, and people returned to the village saying there were no jobs. On the other hand the building of an airfield by foreign contractors at Adana in 1952 stimulated a minor exodus of hopefuls.
Permanent migration to town was rare in both villages. In Sakaltutan the only cases were those of men who married town women. Even those who were most at ease in the town economic system kept their wives and families in the village. The advantages were partly economic. A roomy village house costs little to build (p. 90), and almost nothing to keep up, whereas a town dwelling of any kind would involve rent, and probably squalor as well. A village family with land would be usefully occupied and provide many of its own needs, and even one without land could earn staple foods by working for neighbours, especially at the harvest, and buy more cheaply than in town.
Social factors were clearly important in keeping people rooted in the village.
Most of them, even the young ones, preferred to return where they belonged, among
a set of people they had known from birth, permanent neighbours, brothers and sisters,
cousins and affines, with all the restraints and conflicts involved. Young men accepted
the village system of marriage; and
marriage brought them additional ties to the village and a dependent wife exceedingly unwilling to move to town, where she would be almost totally lacking in the skills and social training necessary to running a home and maintaining neighbourly relations.
The villagers are bound to the village by strong social ties, and there is no economic advantage in breaking these. But as village population grows the numbers dependent on cash from outside also grows. I divided the households of Sakaltutan up into four groups:
49 depended entirely on their land, or used other sources only to a minor degree
16 derived the main part of their income from work outside the village;
22 normally used both these sources;
and 13 derived their income largely or wholly from work inside the village.
The boundaries between these divisions are not clearly cut, and the classification depends solely on my own estimate. It is obvious from these figures that the village relied heavily on outside income for survival.
Economically the present system of migrant labour has great advantages. It does not diminish agricultural production, because most households with even a modest holding of land see to it that it is well used, at least by village standards. On the other hand the fact that many of the village men are both farmers and migrant labourers gives the village economy a flexibility which acts as a two-way insurance. When the harvest is poor, more men migrate for work outside. When the work is in short supply, workers survive by returning to village homes stocked up with food in the traditional fashion. Even when a bad harvest and a mild national recession coincided in the summer of 1949 the flexibility still had advantages. Some of the regular migrants with a fair amount of land returned to live off their land, but at the same time some of the poorer farmers succeeded in bridging a serious gap by finding unskilled jobs away.
However, although skilled rates of pay produce good incomes by village standards,
and although the village is now economically dependent on outside income, skilled
migrant labour is neither liked by those who do it, nor admired by those who do
not. Within the village it is ownership of land which counts, and agricultural income which matters. Money, they say, is soon spent, and who knows if work will always be available? But land is an assurance of food, come what may. The trappings of sophistication - suits, watches and fountain pens - have some appeal, but a scruffy old man who has land and works it well carries much more weight in the village than an elegant young usta. Young men enjoy the liberties of the city and the feel of cash in their pockets, but the older men almost unanimously declare that they would far rather stay at home with their families and farm their land if only they had enough of it to be worth farming. Even if some say this only because they feel they are expected to, this response to expectation is in itself significant. For all its glitter even mIgrant labour is only an expedient to meet the shortage of land, and not desirable in itself, nor seen as a permanent part of a new way of life.
Most villagers conceive of the economic order as fixed, and have no thought of permanent changes. Nevertheless in most, if not all villages, a small number of men are endowed with the necessary resources for, and capable of, trying out new ideas.
The most obvious type of experiment is a shop. The permanent shops in Elbashï were fairly new enterprises and, as I have said (p. 62) intermittent shops were common. Probably at least some of these were intended to be permanent, but the entrepreneur lacked the necessary skill and experience. Elbashï contained one café, also a new enterprise, where a few men played cards, back gammon and dominoes and drank tea and coffee.
On a much larger scale was investment in lorries. I was told that, when the road
from Tomarza through Sakaltutan to Kayseri was opened in 1947, the first men of Tomarza
to put lorries into service had made fabulous profits. The idea caught on rapidly;
the number of lorries increased and the fares and freight charges fell. By 1951 some
operators were already arguing that, in the long run, charges were too low to cover
depreciation. The roads were appalling, and the level of preventive maintenance as
low as the level of mechanical ingenuity in keeping vehicles on the road was high.
One other form of enterprise was developing at the time of my fieldwork: diesel-powered flour mills. Traditional mills had been water powered, and the nearest to Sakaltutan was about four hours' walk away in a village blessed with enough water to run seven mills. Just before my arrival a diesel-powered mill had been set up in Tomarza. In I950 a number of men of Süleymanli, Sakaltutan's nearest neighbour, had combined to put up the capital for one in their village. While I was in Sakaltutan another was built there and was in operation in I951. By I952 a man returned from the Argentine had invested his savings in yet another in a village between Sakaltutan and Elbashï.
The details of capital and running costs and the income from these mills varied greatly every time I tried to get information. The Süleymanli mill was financed by nine shares, but some of these in turn were divided among two or more partners; the total capital cost of the mills seems to have been about T.L.20,000 (£2,500, $7,000). The shareholders originally tried to run the mill entirely by their own labour, dividing responsibility into nine, like the shares; three men on duty, six off. Since the mills ran all day and all night after the harvest, it is not surprising that they found this very hard work and rather unsatisfactory.
The main mover in the Sakaltutan mill seems to have been Haci Osman (H). He admitted to disappointment in 1952 and again in I955, because the running costs and repairs had been more than he had expected, but he said by I955 that most of the debt had been cleared, and he looked forward to an income of about T.L.500 per annum as his share. I never obtained a reliable statement of the shares but a considerable part of the capital came from Kayseri. Haci Osman's wife's brother, head of a leading village household, also held a share. Haci Osman ran a shop by the mill, profiting by the throng of people. It is plain that the mills were a fairly satisfactory investment.
The traditional mills used to charge one-twentieth (five per cent) of wheat and
rye milled, and one-fifteenth (6 2/3 per cent) of barley. The mills began by charging
the same, but by I955 they were charging six per cent for wheat and rye, and nine
per cent for barley. People said the new mills produced finer flour, and of course
they saved those who lived near them hours of carting, journeying and waiting.
In the past, Kara Osman (Ax), the large landowner, had run a tractor and a combine harvester. He had not only used them locally, but had taken them every year to Adana south of the Taurus to hire out. They were still lying derelict in the village. By 1955 another villager had bought himself a tractor and a set of farming tools with government credit and he used them not only on his own land but, for a rent, on his co-villagers' land.
The headman in Elbashï and one or two of the wealthier villagers in the next village had shares in a hotel in Ankara; and in another village near Sakaltutan the leading households, two brothers, had inherited a small hotel in Kayseri from their father. One of the itinerant carpenters and his plumber brother talked of setting up a workshop in Sakaltutan and actually began excavations, but did not pursue the matter. There was also talk of a small textile mill. Köse Mehmet in Elbashï had made, so he claimed, a success of sheep breeding, and discussed establishing with his savings a `scientific-modern' grocery shop in Kayseri, or alternatively, a poultry farm. But he knew that he lacked the necessary knowledge to make either thrive.
It is often said at many different levels that, like other so-called under-developed low-income countries, Turkey lacks capital. Yet the rate of economic development in these villages was restricted far more by inexperience and technical ignorance than by shortage of capital, and also perhaps by fear of regulation and bureaucratic interference. If there had been clear opportunities for profit, in enterprises in which villagers felt they had the necessary experience, then a much higher rate of investment would have been forthcoming. On the other hand their expectations of profit are high. People do not think in terms of investing money and drawing a modest percentage as a permanent income. They expect to recover invested capital, and reckon as profit any surplus over and above this which eventually accrues. A probable rate of return of less than thirty-three per cent gross is unlikely to attract investment.
It seems highly probable that, before about 1925, little was sold or bought for
cash by any but the most prosperous and powerful
villagers. with more land per household, supplies per head of staple grains and milk and meat products must normally have formed a larger part of a less varied diet. More clothes were produced in rural areas. Bride price was paid in gold and silver currency, and wealth was stored in gold coins worn as ornaments by the women. On the whole, most villagers marketed little direct, and most of what they did market was bartered with visiting traders for various necessities; or sold to the tax collectors; or to village leaders who could organise expeditions large enough to be safe.
Nowadays, money is a regular part of life in the village, and every household has urgent cash needs. It is simple for any villager to market his goods direct, so everyone sells as much as he can. By far the greatest part of the exports is grain, which is transported safely by lorry and sold direct to the government Office of Soil Products, Toprak Mahsulleri Ofisi, known in the village as Ofis.
Following a disastrous world fall in wheat prices in 1930, the government authorised the Agricultural Bank to buy cereals at a price to be decided by the cabinet, and to store and mill them. In 1937 these functions were transferred to a new organisation, the Office of Soil Products. During the Second World War the Office expanded its activities enormously both in range and quantity. After the war, it reverted more or less to its former functions, but has since been expanding its organisation steadily, taking each year an increasing percentage of the marketed cereal crop.
Each year, as the harvesting ends, the village lorries run a flat-out service to the nearest depot of this agency; villagers vie with each other to get their sacks of grain on to the lorries, and day and night the village is full of argument and bustle. At the depot, officials examine each sack for quality and dampness, and eternal wrangles go on over the grading, which determines the price. In spite of these disputes, and although the grading appears to depend on the officials' personal judgement, I never heard of any villagers complaining of corruption.
This major annual marketing apart, there is a constant stream of minor exports
from the villages, mainly during the summer months. From Sakaltutan potatoes, onions
and ground peas (nohut), for example were taken to Kayseri and sold privately in
Livestock also provided a number of commodities for sale. The sheep provided wool, marketed direct in Kayseri. Finished carpets, rugs and bags were also sold in Kayseri direct to the retail shops. Cheese was sold, and people in Elbashï sold sheep's -milk to itinerant collectors while the ewes were in milk after the lambing season. Lambs, mainly the male yearlings, were sold for meat. No household breeds cattle deliberately for market, but calves surplus to needs are sold, sometimes to neighbours, sometimes to dealers, sometimes direct in Kayseri. Eggs are mostly bartered in the village, but a man going to town often takes eggs and a chicken or two to sell. The system is flexible, since the household can consume more or less, and is free to time the sale of livestock and their products to suit its needs and interests. Animals represent a sort of bank balance.
No one in the village runs a regular business as a dealer in major supplies such as seed - this is either part of last year's crop, or obtained direct from the local branch of the Ministry of Agriculture - or fertiliser, which is not used. One or two men, however, traded intermittently in animals. Ziya (S) the carpenter occasionally went off on a village trip to buy sheep and cattle in small numbers and ship them by lorry to Kayseri for sale. Another man in Suleymanli village told me of expeditions some years before by train to Istanbul with cattle he had bought up in the villages. Clearly, however, trade of this kind was a very minor part of the village economy.
Although the village still produces much of what it consumes and officials appear to play only a small part in the lives of the people, in fact the village economy is dependent on the national economy and is largely shaped by government policy. The government decides taxes, cereal prices and credit policies, and directly or indirectly determines the prices of consumer goods.
Under the Ottoman Empire, tax collecting had been auctioned to contractors, who
had been entitled to a fixed proportion of everyone's crop. The possibilities of
extortion and of evasion under such a system are obvious, but what the villagers
complained of most bitterly was the deterioration of the crops while waiting for
the collector to arrive. The Republic finally
abolished this system in 1925 (Lewis (1961) p. 461) and eventually replaced it by the collection by salaried officials of fixed cash sums. Land tax was paid on whatever land a villager had registered with the tax authorities,which was classified into grades and taxed accordingly. In 1949-55 the real value of this tax had declined since the last assessment in 1939, because of steep inflation, and was negligible. In any case, it did not correspond with the actual amounts of land to which villagers exercised de facto rights of ownership. Animals were also taxed per lead, and in addition the village men paid a poll tax, the road tax, of T.L.12 (about £l 10s., or $4.20). This last tax was particularly unpopular, and fell very heavily on the poorest members of the community. I saw property seized by the tax collector from the homes of defaulters. The Democrat Party government in I950 abolished the animal tax and the road tax, and left the economists to argue for the next decade that the agricultural section of the Turkish economy was grossly undertaxed.
State agricultural credit in Turkey has an old and honourable history. The Agricultural Bank was established in 1888 and survived as a semi-private Bank until 1936 when it became State-owned. Credit was steadily expanded, especially after the Second World War until, in I950, T.L.400,000,000 (£50 million) credit was extended at a standard rate of six per cent (Robinson (1949) Letter 23).
When I arrived, Elbashï was already the headquarters of a Credit Co-operative
which served a number of villages. This was not in fact a co-operative in any normal
sense, but a local branch of the Agricultural Bank with special rules, run by an
official of the Bank who lived in Elbashï. Members were compelled to offer mutual
guarantees, and to contribute a small percentage of their loans, part to a fund to
meet defaulting and part to establish their own share in the Co-operative. Members
had the right to elect a committee, but all decisions lay in fact with the official.
The villagers did not see the point of all this and regarded the small percentages
as an imposition, tolerable because the Credit Co-operative, with its mutual guarantees,
and its office in the village, was more generous than the old town branch of the
Agricultural Bank had been. Yet in 1951-52, only I 20 households took loans, and
many of these did not take all
they were entitled to borrow. Many of the remaining ninety households were entitled to loans but did not take them.
In Sakaltutan, in 1949-50, the villagers still drew their loans direct from the Agricultural Bank in Kayseri, though by 1955 they too were members of a Credit Co-operative. In 1950 I had the impression that most households which qualified had taken loans.
Normally, loans are collected by the Bank immediately after the harvest, and then within a short period fresh loans are made for the next season. The villagers in Sakaltutan told me that if any one villager defaulted the Bank would make no fresh loans to that village. In fact, it does seem that the debtors were grouped in mutually responsible groups, usually by villages.
The effect of the loans was not in any way to encourage capital improvements. Money from any source was used in any way the household needed to use it, and loans at low interest were naturally welcome. The first time a household received a loan it was thus a kind of shot in the arm for current expenses, but thereafter the year-to-year position was no different from what it had always been - the comparatively large sum from the harvest simply went into the bank and out again, and-was then used for the usual purposes
Nevertheless the system had advantages. The loan acted as a cushion. In good years, some households reduced their government loans, thus putting themselves in a position to borrow more than they had to pay back in a bad year or an expensive one.
The loans did not, however, help to meet the villagers' most serious problem:
a year with no harvest. If the crops were below a certain percentage of average,
the Bank declared a moratorium on all debts. The villager was then in the same position
as he would have been without the Agricultural Bank. He had no crops to sell, no
income to buy the annual necessities, and probably not even enough food to last until
the next harvest. Because he owed the Bank one debt, he could not borrow again from
this source. Some villagers have ways round this difficulty. The loans are personal,
so that if a man's son or his wife can be declared a landowner, and if the headman
will ratify the application, a fresh loan can be obtained. This kind of thing is
more difficult once a Credit Co-operative has arrived in the
village, because the local manager has local knowledge. But neighbours and kin may still be able to arrange to help each other out. In Elbashï, I came across one case of a man who had not used his own rights to credit, borrowing on behalf of another; and there were probably similar instances.
The Bank also makes special loans, for example it helps with the purchase of machinery. One or two villagers in Elbashï had used this service by I955. In the summer of I950, people in Sakaltutan received special supplementary loans, in bureaucratic theory to pay for the expense of harvesting, but in practice to buy food to last till the harvest came in.
Apart from the Bank, the Department of Agriculture made cleaned seed available on credit to the villagers each year. Not all villagers wanted the government type of seed, but most people accepted some of it. Once again, the rules for issuing were bureaucratically complex, but the requirements were easily met provided the headman was prepared to sign. At least one landless villager obtained and ate an allotment of seed.
In Elbashï, the government veterinary service had introduced another form of government aid. Annually they brought two stallions, one of French farm stock and one Arab, to the village to serve the mares. The villagers appreciated this service. They did not keep the foals in the village but sold them for good prices (p. 83). In 1951, government officials also brought merino rams to cross with the karamanli village ewes. The villagers were dubious about the ability of the progeny to survive their winter, but said that in any case they had already put the rams to the flocks.
In a much more immediate sense, the government affects the village economy through
its control of prices. The prices offered year to year by the Office of Soil Products
(p. 73) is decided by the Cabinet itself. These
have been above world price for every year except one since the Office was founded.
The Democrat Party government made its decisions at least partly on political grounds.
This guaranteed price is perhaps the greatest single benefit that the government
has conferred on Turkish village agriculture. It destroyed the traditional situation
in which prices drop to nothing in times and areas of glut, when the working household
has a surplus, and rise to fantastic heights in times and areas of shortage, when
the working house-
hold is hungry. The old system discourages production for market; the new system encourages it greatly.
Consumer prices are also determined, if less directly, by government policy. The government control of import duties and quotas largely decided the price of almost all manufactured goods. Through the State monopolies, the government decides the price of sugar, matches and cigarettes. The State-owned factories, held by the State Banks, decide the price of their products by bureaucratic expediency rather than by the economic pressures of the market. In particular, cloth and clothing were expensive during my stay. In 1950 and 1952, national shortages of petrol, tyres and spare parts limited lorry transport and put up village transport costs.
The villagers live only partly in the national money economy. In so far as they consume directly what they produce they are outside the effects of inflation and government price control. But a large and rapidly increasing part of their economy is within the national economy. In this sector, in general, they receive artificially high prices for their goods, but are forced to pay also artificially high prices for what they consume. This system has disadvantages both for them and for the national economy. But the guarantee of a stable and rewarding price for grain is an overwhelming advantage, and has provided the major stimulus to increased production.
Steady and striking economic changes had clearly been taking place in both these villages in the last ten or fifteen years before my field work. Traditionally, the economy of villages like Sakaltutan, and to a lesser degree Elbashï also, was a near subsistence economy, (cf. Yasa (1957) pp. 26-28, 177). A high proportion of what the villages consumed they produced for themselves, and except for relatively few essentials, what the village did not produce it went without. For considerable periods, the villages could survive without the towns.
They still supply a large part of what they consume. All cereals, milk products,
meat and eggs, and some at least of the fruit and vegetables consumed are produced
in the village. The villages also supply their own fuel from straw, dung and scrub,
build their own houses with local stone (though timber and other materials have to be imported), breed most of their own draught animals, and satisfy their own needs for kilims, bags and sacks. Some of these needs are met by a small amount of trade between villages, but in most of these items each village, and to some extent each household is self-sufficient. The villagers exaggerated this self-sufficiency, and liked to emphasise their independence; in their still traditional view of the world, the land gave an assurance of survival which such unreliable sources of income as a government salary did not.
The village also processes, through its own resident craftsmen, some imported raw materials to meet some of its needs for tools and utensils. These craftsmen are however far from able to supply all the needs, each serving not a single village but an area. Their services are supplemented by visiting craftsmen, and by the purchase of ready-made goods direct from the towns. Similarly, the village provides itself with shops for retail goods, but also purchases much of its needs direct from urban shops.
The factors which determine whether a consumer favours local shops or local craftsmen, or prefers to make use of outsiders, are complex, and special to each case. So too are those which determine what kind of enterprise a villager attempts, and at which he is successful. The purely economic factors are fairly obvious. A pedlar or itinerant craftsman, for example, has smaller overheads than a shopkeeper or resident craftsman, and a larger potential market. But he must transport his stock or the tools of his trade, and, seeking custom among strangers, he can rely less on kinship and neighbourhood ties. Again, the village consumer can buy village products more cheaply in the village, village imports more cheaply in the town. Personal services and crafts involving labour are cheaper in the village. But besides these economic factors, the network of social relationships plays an extremely important part in determining who uses whose services, and people may well prefer the use of familiar or friendly or traditional ways of satisfying their needs, even if these cost more.
Village imports nowadays are considerable. Essentials are all imported in increasing
quantity - building for example has greatly expanded - and in addition, fruit and
vegetables, especially cabbage and beet, which can be stored and eaten
during the winter, tea and coffee, helva and sweets, some ready made clothes, shoes and bedding, winter feed for animals to supplement village straw, paraffin (kerosene) for lighting, and such luxury as flash-lights, bicycles, radios, pressure lanterns,watches and fountain pens, fancy cups and glasses, mirrors, and so on; and very recently, and rarely, lorries, flour mill machinery, fuel and spare parts.
To pay for all this, the villages have been growing as much grain for market as possible, and also exporting their traditional products; cheese, milk, wool, livestock, kilims and woven bags. -Elbashï, by great expansion of the area under cultivation, has managed more or less to balance its trade, but like most villages, Sakaltutan has been forced to export labour on a large scale as well.
In spite of the rise in consumption and in earnings by both villages, there is little investment in agriculture. Very few of the village imports are directed to agricultural production, unless we count the materials for making the primitive tools. Recently, people have been buying steel ploughs, and one man in Elbashï by 1955 had bought on credit a tractor and a set of agricultural equipment. But no one even thought about the means of raising the very low yields per dönüm.
The villages are homogeneous in production, and economic relations between them consist mainly of reciprocal exchanges and small loans, the use of craftsmen, advice on health and medicines for people and animals, religious and magical consultations, and sales of animals. The vast bulk of village buying and selling is with the towns. In spite of the village illusions that land makes a farmer independent in a way that mere earners of cash are not, the village is in fact directly and completely tied into the national economy.
In theory economic dependence is a two-way relationship. If the villages depend on the towns for their survival, so also do the towns depend on the villages for food and labour. But in fact even in purely economic terms, the townsmen with their greater concentration of wealth are always stronger in specific instances than the villagers, who are normally too near to serious want to take risks, and too numerous and divided to use the weapon of cutting off urban food supplies, or withholding labour.
It is a commonplace that the economic System of relatively
closed small-scale societies are part of the social system. Economic behaviour takes place between people who already have established social relations, in a social context where both parties are known and share the values and mutual expectations of the society to which they belong. In this situation economic behaviour often fails to respond to purely economic stimuli.
The village society is still a closed small-scale society but one with strong links and a growing intimacy with the more impersonal large-scale society of the nation and the cities. For example, the marketing of the main crop is conducted with officials, impersonally and impartially. On the other hand, other relations with town merchants, though they may also be purely economic, are usually more complex. A particular shopkeeper will be known to and trusted by men of a particular village or lineage. This established relation gives the villager more confidence, since the merchant has now something to lose by cheating. A man of this kind may act not only as a retailer but as a postal service, money-lender and general friend and adviser to his clients. The villagers, though often forced into relations with complete strangers, do not like such relations and constantly seek to turn the impersonal single-stranded tie into a multiple personal loyalty.
Membership of a relatively closed society affects economic behaviour in another
and even more important way. For most villagers, what primarily concerns them is
their place, not in the nation, but in their village. They are concerned with improving
or at least maintaining their standing among the neighbours and kin where they were
born and grew up. A few leave altogether, accepting a new scale of social importance
in a new environment; and a larger minority live in two scales, an urban, migrant
worker's world, and the village. But for most, the village is the only social arena
that really matters. Hence economic activities are subordinate to this end. So long
as the household can fulfil honourably enough its obligations and needs, that is,
so long as it can marry off its children decently and house its married sons, then
there is no pressing need to accumulate further wealth. Except for some of the very
young men, people prefer to stay in the village if no urgent need drives them away.
Hence the common phenomenon of the unreliability of migrant workers, and the oft-reported
for people to work less if they are paid more. Moreover, behaviour which is likely to arouse criticism or ridicule is not safe. Unless one is absolutely sure of success, innovation is to be avoided.
If village social organisation inhibits experiment, so does village culture, - `culture' in the sense of a stock of inherited and acquired knowledge and experience. In 1955, there were still only two forms of new enterprise established. One, motor transport - obvious, profitable (at least at first), and a development of a traditional activity; the other, flour milling - even closer to traditional rural business enterprise. Neither required much specialist knowledge. But talk of poultry farms and small textile mills or workshops remained talk, because people lacked the knowledge and experience to be sure of success. It is lack of a tradition and of experience rather than of capital that inhibits spontaneous enterprise.
The strength of village society, and the fact that villagers see their personal future in terms of the village and not of the nation, accounts for the strong attachment to farming, and the almost unanimous dislike which migrant labourers, even the most highly skilled, expressed for their occupation. Prestige and power in the village were tied with landowning and with permanent residence, not with wandering about the country, however profitable this might be.
If village social organisation limits and shapes economic behaviour, the changing
economy has great effects on traditional social organisation. Some details of these
changes will form part of later chapters. But in general, the main change is the
multiplication, for most adult male villagers, of a new private set of more or less
impersonal social relations with employers, fellow-workers, officials, and buyers
and sellers, different for each individual, all leading out of the village into the
national society. A generation ago, such external relations were the prerogative
of village leaders, and even for them were far fewer and less impersonal. This change
inevitably opens the structure of village society, and lessens the authority of its