Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/199

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187
AN ETHNOLOGIC STUDY OF THE YURUKS.

Sipylus to the Tmolus Mountains are named "Kizil-Bach." Their tribe is the most important and the most numerous; they comprise nearly two thirds of the Yuruk element. In the ethnologic point of view their study presents the most interest.

The Kizil-Bach, as, in fact, all the Yuruks, are the followers of Ali, whom they consider as their prophet. Therefore, Mohammed has no worshipers among them, and this explains why they do not observe the precepts of the Koran.

A curious thing to notice is also a slight mixture of paganism in their creed. For instance, in the spring and fall of every year they set large tents in a remote place, and when night comes men and women gather to celebrate religious banquets and mysterious ceremonies, followed by songs and dances.

Their principal poems express veneration for Ali. They also possess remarkably exalted hymns to chant their adoration to the Supreme Being and their love for their brethren. The dance, performed only by the women, has an original and Asiatic character; its rhythm is grave and slow, the gestures and motions of the dancers show kindness and amiability for their guests. Only those initiated in their mysteries are allowed to attend the above ceremonies, while vigilant and unmerciful guardians, posted in the surroundings, prevent the approach of strangers on pain of immediate death.

Besides these banquets and nocturnal ceremonies, which recall the Saturnalia of the Romans in the time of Tiberius, another fact leads me to believe that the Yuruks have preserved pre-Islamitic doctrines that we can also trace in the darkest paganism. For instance, their belief in metempsychosis. The Yuruks, indeed, assert that human souls return into the bodies of animals, and that the spirits of the latter take also a human form and apjjear at determined epochs. This is certainly the reason why they are so kind to animals. M. Elisée Reclus says that a Yuruk loves his horse as much as his family. The horses have their place under the tent, and it is not uncommon to see them warmly wrapped in a magnificent robe when the Yuruk and his children are covered with rags. Some other customs attest also a pagan origin; in the Orient everybody knows that the Yuruks worship certain trees and rocks. These facts yield sufficient evidence that monotheism is by no means the essential dogma of their religion.

Among the qualities possessed by the Yuruk, hospitality is, no doubt, prominent. Deprived, by the very influence of his adventurous life, of all the fierce instincts which characterize the Turkomans; restricted, because of his occupations, to the woods, the plains, or the mountains; constantly exposed to the inclemency of the seasons, to dangers and enemies of all kinds, the Yuruk has conceived a generous and noble idea of hospitality, and he prac-