Many Alevis in Turkey migrated from rural villages to the big cities during the 1970s. Among this minority religious community are Tahtacı Alevis, who have been described as ‘Alevi nomads.’ They have been living mainly in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey.
Literally translated as “Woodworker Alevis,” Tahtacı Alevis have historically been known to have engaged in woodworking since Ottoman times. A group of researchers, having spent considerable effort and time examining Tahtacı Alevi culture, have staged exhibitions in three museums in Balıkesir, İzmir and Mersin exhibiting artefacts reflecting their culture.
”They were nomads. They learned woodworking [tahtacılık] in the Taurus Mountains. And while they were living as nomads, the Ottoman Empire started to put pressure on their beliefs,” said Celal Necati Üçyıldız, a cultural researcher who participated in the opening ceremonies of the exhibitions.
Necati explained that, as Tahtacı Alevis were subjected to repression for their beliefs, they migrated into the mountains. “They left cities and went to the mountains. In the mountains, they engaged in woodwork and freely exercised their beliefs.”