|apprx. 3 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Islam (Sunnism, Alevism)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Turkish people and other Turkic peoples|
The Yörüks, also Yuruks or Yorouks (Turkish: Yörükler; Greek: ?, Youroúkoi; Bulgarian: ; Macedonian: , Juruci), are a Turkish ethnic subgroup of Oghuz descent, some of whom are nomadic, primarily inhabiting the mountains of Anatolia, and partly in the Balkan peninsula. On the Balkans Yörüks are distributed over a wide area from southern Serbia, parts of Bulgaria, north to Larissa in Thessaly and southern Thrace. Their name derives from the Turkish verb yürü- (yürümek in infinitive), which means "to walk", with the word yörük or yürük designating "those who walk on the hindlegs, walkers". The Yörüks were under the Yörük Sanjak, (Turkish: Yörük Sanca) which was not a territorial unit like the other sanjaks, but a separate organisational unit of the Ottoman Empire.
According to some, those tribes residing in the east of the K?z?l?rmak river are called Turkmen and those in the west Yörük. Both terms were used together in Ottoman sources for Dulkadirli Turkmens living in Mara? and its surroundings. The ethnohistorical terms Turcoman and Turkmen are used synonymously in literature to designate Yörük ancestry.
Historians and ethnologists often use the additional appellative 'Yörük Turcoman' or 'Turkmens' to describe the Yörüks of Anatolia. In Turkey's general parlance today, the terms "Türkmen" and "Yörük" indicate the gradual degrees of preserved attachment with the former semi-nomadic lifestyle of the populations concerned, with the "Turkmen" now leading a fully sedentary life, while keeping parts of their heritage through folklore and traditions, in arts like carpet-weaving, with the continued habit of keeping a yayla house for the summers, sometimes in relation to the Alevi community etc. and with Yörüks maintaining a stronger association with nomadism. These names ultimately hint to their Oghuz Turkish roots. The remaining "true" Yörüks of today's Anatolia traditionally use horses as a means of transportation, though these are steadily being replaced by trucks.
The Yörüks are divided in a large number of named endogamous patrilineal tribes (a?iret). Among recent tribes mentioned in the literature are Aksigirli, Ali Efendi, Bahs?s, Cakallar, Co?lu, Qekli, Gacar, Güzelbeyli, Horzum, Karaevli, Karahac?l?, Karakoyunlu, Karakayal?, Karalar, Karakeçili, Manavl?, Melemenci, San Agal?, Sanhac?l?, Sar?keçili, Tekeli and Yeni Osmanl?. The tribes are splittered in clans or lineages, i.e. kabile, sülale or oba.
The Sar?keçili tribes (turk. "yellow goat") are the last Yörüks (Turkish nomads) maintaining the nomadic way of life. They mainly live in the Mersin province, in the central-eastern parts of Turkish Mediterranean coast, and consist of about 200 families. Their winter camp is in Silifke, Gülnar and Anamur coasts. In summer they live in the districts of Beysehir and Seydisehir of the Konya province. Their nomad tents can be seen throughout the Mediterranean coastal sides of Turkey. This is a very common practice among old Turkic tribes in central Asia even nowadays. Throat playing tradition, known as "Bo?az Havas?" or "Bo?az Çalma", has an important aspect in the culture of the Sar?keçili Yörüks, it is performed by pressing the throat with a finger while singing with a sound.
In the past centuries, many Sar?keçili tribes also resided in these areas: ?çel, Ayd?n, Konya, Karahisâr-? Sahib, Ak?ehir, Saruhan, Do?anhisar?, Antalya, E?ridir, Isparta, Burdur, Dazk?r?, Uluborlu, Tav?anl?, Kütahya. Most Sar?keçili tribes living in these areas have already accepted the sedentary way of life. The Sar?keçili around Antalya and Mersin are the last representatives of Yörük nomadism. They are considered 'the only group representing the Turkish migration from Central Asia'.
French historian and Turkologist Jean-Paul Roux visited the Anatolian Yörüks in the late 1950s and found that the majority of them were practicing Sunni Muslims. The tribes he visited were led by elected officials called muhtars, or village headmen, rather than hereditary chiefs, although he did note that village elders maintained some social authority based on their age. For the majority of the year, they lived in dark wool tents called kara fadir. During the summer, they went up to the mountains, and in the winter they came down to the coastal plains. They kept a variety of animals, including goats, sheep, camels, and sometimes cattle.
The focus of each tribe was the family unit. Young men would move directly from their family's tent to their own upon marriage. The Yörüks married endogamously; that is, they married strictly within their own tribe. Children were raised by the tribe as a whole, who told Roux "we are all parents." Although the Yörüks had acquired a reputation for being deliberately resistant to formal education, Roux found that a full quarter of Yörük children he encountered were attending school, despite the difficulties of living a nomadic lifestyle in remote locations with limited access.
In 1911, the Yörük were a distinct segment of the population of Macedonia and Thrace, where they settled as early as the 14th century. An earlier offshoot of the Yörüks, the Kailar or Kay?lar Turks, were among the first settlements in Europe.
In 1900 the Rumelian Turkish population in the Balkans was estimated at about seven million. Shortly after the independence of the new Bulgarian state, they formed the majority in the country. Several migrations led to a decline of the Rumelian Turkish population, leaving about 1.5 million people by 1925. Many Rumelian Turks in Greece are not counted in census because they are registered as Christians to escape discrimination. Due to religious, linguistic and social differences, most part of Rumelian Turks did not intermarry or mix with the native populations of the Balkans.
As late as 1971, Rumelian Turks still formed a distinct ethnos of former nomads (known as Yorukluk). Originally, these Yörük nomads were taken from West Anatolia (Saruhan, Menemen) to colonize parts of Rumelia, such as Thessaly and Rhodope in the Greek-Bulgarian-Macedonian borderland, or Plovdiv and Yambol in Bulgaria. After decimating the last resistance of Skanderbeg in the Albanian mountain regions, formerly irregular Turkmen troops settled down and now form the basis of the Muslim Albanian population.
In 1993, the Yörük population of Bulgaria is estimated at apprx. 418 thousand people, mainly divided into Surguch (7,000 without children) and Yörük (320,000 without children). They live mainly in the European part of Turkey, in Dulovo and the Deliorman area in Bulgaria and in the Kumanovo and Bitola areas of North Macedonia. Dialects include Gajal, Gerlovo Turk, Karamanli, Kyzylbash, Surguch, Tozluk Turk, Yuruk (Konyar, Yoruk), Prizren and Macedonian Gagauz. Current estimates of 2019 assume that in the entire Balkan region approx. 1.5 to 2.3 million people of Yörük Turkish descent live.
The Kailar Turks formerly inhabited parts of Thessaly and Macedonia (especially near the town of Kozani and modern Ptolemaida). Before 1360, large numbers of nomad shepherds, or Yörüks, from the district of Konya, in Asia Minor, had settled in the country. Further immigration from this region took place from time to time up to the middle of the 18th century. After the establishment of the feudal system in 1397 many of the Seljuk noble families came over from Asia Minor; some of the beys or Muslim landowners in southern Macedonia before the Balkan Wars may have been their descendants.
Clans closely related to the Yörüks are scattered throughout the Anatolian Peninsula and beyond it, particularly around the chain of Taurus Mountains and further east around the shores of the Caspian sea. Of the Turkmens of Iran, the Yomuts come the closest to the definition of the Yörüks. An interesting offshoot of the Yörük mass are the Tahtac? of the mountainous regions of Western Anatolia who, as their name implies, have been occupied with forestry work and wood craftsmanship for centuries. Despite this, they share similar traditions (with markedly matriarchal tones in their society structure) with their other Yörük cousins. The Qashqai people of southern Iran are also worthy of mention due to their shared characteristics.[clarification needed]