Daughters of Anatolia

Documenting the journey of a nomadic goat herding family in central Turkey

About the film

A modern journey and an ancient nomadic tradition

A note from Halé Sofia Schatz, Producer and Director

The documentary Daughters of Anatolia began from a personal interest in traditional nomadic people who travel with goat herds and make yogurt and cheese. During my teaching and travels in the mountains of Turkey a few years ago, I landed in Saliha Gök’s tent and stayed for tea. After four years and five trips (2011-2013) of traveling and filming with them, we came out with more than just documentation of traditional yogurt and cheese making. We found lifestyles that are ancient in their connection to the earth, to the mountains, to animals and to each other. I have been humbled and extremely grateful to have been welcomed into their lives.

Daughters of Anatolia follows the Gök family, a group of nomadic goat herders, as they travel on the “Göҫ,” or seasonal migration, from the temperate winters along the Mediterranean Sea to the cool summers in the Taurus Mountains, and back again. It is a route their ancestors pursued for a thousand years in order to provide forage for the animals throughout the year. The family relies on their 350 goats for their sustenance and livelihood: They make, eat and sell cheese and yogurt from the milk. They shear, spin, weave, and sell goat wool. They butcher the animals for their own meat consumption.

Saliha and Meryem Gök are married to two brothers, Ali and Hüseyin. Ali and Saliha have three daughters, Melek, Hürü, Nazlı, as well as a son, Mehmet. They all travel together, along with Ali and Hüseyin’s father. In addition to the goats, the family owns 24 sheep, eight camels, two horses and four guard dogs.

The Gök family is part of the Sarıkeçili Yörük community in Anatolia — 175 families who have maintained their nomadic rhythms since the 12th century. The family stays at their summer mountain pasture, “Yayla,” where they milk the goats and sell homemade cheeses in a nearby village. “Yayla” is also where they shear their animals, taking some wool to market, while saving the majority to spin and weave into material for their tents. Before leaving Yayla at the end of the summer, they sell 40 to 50 goats.

During the fall and spring, the Gök family makes a four-to-six-week-long seasonal migration by foot and camel, (and, in the last period of time, with the aid of a tractor-trailer).

In recent years, their traditional nomadic routes have been impacted by land and water use restrictions that increasingly have made it difficult for them to follow their way of life. Although they purchased a tractor-trailer in hopes of facilitating travel, it is not clear whether this actually has helped or whether it rather has generated greater complications, such as due to the expense of gasoline and maintenance.

The family spends winter in the Mersin/Silifke region by the sea, called “Sehil”. Here, the four children go to school and all the new goats are born.

During these cooler, sometimes rainy, winter months, the women spin wool as well as weave panels for the tent they live in. Due to wear and tear, the tent continually needs to be repaired or replaced.

Although the rainy season makes it difficult for gathering wood and maintaining fires needed for daily cooking, Saliha and Meryem always cook two to three meals a day. They make all their own bread, yogurt, cheese and butter. In the towns they go through, they buy flour, salt, sugar, tea and fresh vegetables. However, because of recent restrictions on water rights, many families in the community have been obliged to purchase water tanks they take with them.

Where are they now? In 2014, the Gök family sold all their camels. Grandfather Gök also passed away. As of 2015, the family is planning on settling in central Turkey near their summer pasture, “Yayla,” so that the children regularly can attend school. Their future, however, is uncertain. They and their ancestors always have been nomads; they have few marketable skills besides herding animals. Saliha and Meryem are considering raising a small herd of Angora goats for wool, meat and milk.

Halé Sofia SchatzAs an author, filmmaker and international educator with Turkish roots, Halé Sofia Schatz focuses on exploring the interconnections between food, culture, spirituality and empowerment. She keeps a small goat herd near Boston, Massachusetts. View film credits.

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Film Trailer

^^ The above map loosely indicates the area across which the Gök family has herded their goats and the main towns they come near in the process.

Extras

Spinning wool

Saliha is never idle. While walking with the camels during the Göҫ (seasonal migration), she spins goats’ wool to be used for tent repair at their future winter location.

Sharing a meal

The women prepare a simple meal for the family to share: bulgur pilav, yogurt with cucumbers, and fresh bread.

Bread Making

Saliha and Meryem make bread regularly. Bread is eaten with their three meals a day, as well as used for börek, which is stuffed with either fresh or aged goat cheese, depending on the season. Sprinkling with water keeps the bread moist.

Setting up the tent

During the spring and fall Göç (seasonal migration), the Gök family set up and take down their tent almost daily. The tent is woven from the wool of their goats and takes approximately two years to weave.

Nomadic Neighbors

Saliha and her daughters interact with their nomad neighbors, sharing labor, laughter and play.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

The family’s dogs are shown at work, at rest, being fed, and in conflict with neighboring dogs.

Ali Herding

In the mountains, Ali calls and herds the goats.

Hüseyin Building

Hüseyin builds a shelter to protect the newborn goat kids from the winter rains.

Saliha Chopping Wood

Wood needs to be chopped daily for the family’s fire.

Saliha Singing

Saliha sings a Turkish folk song while the herd is on the move.

Tea

The family enjoys tea throughout the day.

Post-Screening Discussion

Halé Sofia Schatz at the Harvard film screening on November 4, 2015.

Project News,
film screenings and press

 

“A gorgeous ethnographic film. So moving… awe inspiring.”
— Cindy Kleine, Director, “Phyllis and Harold” and “Before and After Dinner”

“I found the film lyrical, touching and full of humanity. Congrats, Halé on your extraordinary paean to this vanishing way of life.” — Sabine Hrechdakian, Writer and Restaurateur

Contact us

DVDs now available!

For home viewing, please purchase from our sister site, heartofnourishment.com.
For institutional purchase or sale, please see: grasshopperfilm.com

Address:
Daughters of Anatolia
c/o Heart of Nourishment
P.O. Box 504
Lexington, MA 02420
USA

Email:
goatnomads@gmail.com

Contact:
Halé Sofia Schatz

.
Pre-production Consultants:
Florence DelSanto
Anne Wickham Smith

Post-production Consultant:
Jonathan Schwartz

Sound Design and Audio Mix:
Raul Rosa

Post Finishing Facility:
Modulus Studios

Color Correction:
Erich Gilbride

Finishing Supervisors:
Kristen Clifford
Eric Masunaga

.
Music composed and
performed by:
Teke Trio
Ali Bedel
Emre Dayıoğlu
Uğur Önür

Translation:
Atıl Ulaş Cüce
Sevinç Gerçekoğlu
Hüseyin Hoşça
Mine Oyal Hoşça
Halé Sofia Schatz

Cultural Liaison:
Atıl Ulaş Cüce
Middle Earth Travel

With Special Gratitude:

  • Meryem and Hüseyin Gök
  • Saliha and Ali Gök
  • Melek, Hürü, Nazlı and Mehmet Gök
  • Grandfather Gök
  • Bulut family
  • Pervin Çoban and the Sarıkeçili Community

Also thanks...

  • Sevdim Anıl
  • Avena Botanicals
  • Ahmet Fiz Baycu
  • Valihe and Orhan Bayçu
  • Ulaş Bayraktar
  • Michael Bondaryk
  • Alijah Case
  • Jessie Chang
  • Austin de Besche
  • Hüseyin Hoşça
  • Mine Oyal Hoşça
  • Timothy Kenny
  • Joan Klagsbrun
  • LexMedia
  • Melissa Hoffer
  • Liz Linder
  • Julian Miller
  • Uraz Nehir
  • Emily Overton
  • Valerie Overton
  • Özgür Özmete
  • Janet Pelletier
  • Micah Schatz
  • Rekha Methratta Schatz
  • Josef Schatz
  • Steven Schatz
  • Yasemin Schatz
  • Ayşe Taşkıran
  • Sarah Wolf
  • Ryan Yoder