Ethnographics Gallery University of Kent

Turkish Village

Copyright 1965, 1994 Paul Stirling. All rights reserved.

Paul Stirling


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Page 52

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 gve 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 proportion to their total holdings.

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