01. Ikiyaka village, formerly known as Sat koyu, is a small village of 80 houses in the wild borderlands of Turkey, Iraq and Iran deep in the northern Zagros Mountains. The village lies in Turkey but just a kilometre from the Iragi border.
02.Ikiyaka village lies on the south side of Samdi Dag, 3811m, one of the major massifs in the Cilo Sat range in Hakkari province in SE Turkey. Just to the south of the village is Iraq. On the north side of the mountain is the army post at Varegös on the track between Yuksekova and Oramar
03. Half way along the road from Yuksekova to Oramar (Daglica) is the army post at Varegös. This was also where the semi-nomadic villagers of Ikiyaka traded their pastoral produce for flour. This is me and the mule I hired to take up everything I thought I needed for a month in the mountains.
04. Leaving Varegös and heading up the Rubarisin stream into the Sat mountains. The path went to the left of the rocky ridge ahead and then crossed the stream and climbed up over the same ridge into the valley straight ahead before climbing out of the picture’s right and into the Hanging Valley.
05. Hussein Donat was one of the first to greet me when I arrived at the Hanging Valley zozan. He had a large black woven goat hair tent here and invited me in for tea and to enquire what I wanted to do up in the mountains. He was to become one of my patrons.
06. The zozan at the Hanging Valley zozan had 13 tents, or households, at it. Half were traditional woven goat hair tents, as pictured to the left, and the other half were more modern canvas ones., Ibrahim, on the mule, was taking dairy produce from his household down to Varegos to trade.
07. Abdul, another guest, and Sabri in my tent at the Hanging Valley zozan after I had just arrived in 1985. Abdul, on the left, was driving his household’s mules from Ikiyaya Village to Varegös taking pastoral products to trade and Sabri, on the right, was on leave from the Turkish military.
08. Guri making butter in the goatskin in the early morning. The butter fat was naturally separated in the large cauldrons and then scooped off in the morning and put into the goatskins where it was churned until it formed butter and whey. In the foreground is the kapanak felt cloak I bought.
09.The shepherd Islam Dugran, Namen’s younger brother, and Aril Donat, Hussein’s son, watching the sheep in the hanging valley pasture. The automatic rifle Aziz is holding belongs to one of the village guards and is supplied by the Turkish Military to patrol the Turkey-Iraq border at the village.
10. Me in my typical Kurdish jacket and shalwar trousers and a pushi or Kurdish headscarf with the shepherds. The rifle was an ancient hunting rifle which the shepherds always had handy in case they needed to defend the sheep.
11. Idris Donat was the head shepherd for this herding unit. His father owned half of the sheep and goats which were in the entire herd. He was always on shepherding duty, while the other households in the herding unit provided shepherds on a rota basis.
12. Idris Donat had been the main shepherd for the herding unit his household belonged to for a few years. He knew the family tree of all the 400 sheep in the herd, half owned by his household and half owned by the other12 households.
13. Each herd of sheep and goats had a few large mastiff dogs embedded amongst the animals. The dogs would grow up with the herds and spend their entire time with them, always on the lookout. The fearless dogs would attack bear, wolf, lynx or human if they perceived a risk.
14. Above the Hanging Valley was a large basin, called the Sergera Basin, surrounded by jagged peaks, On the floor of the basin were some 5 lakes with Buyuk Golu being the largest. The path to Ikiyaka village went across the basin and up over the ridge under the cloud.
15. Sabri and Idris, the shepherds, chatting to Sabri’s father, Hajji, who was going to Varegös from Ikiyaka village. We all sat on the lush grass beside the largest of the lakes in the Sergera basin. At the far end of the lake was the location for Gaveruk zozan which remained vacant until mid summer.
16. From the pass to the south of the Sergera basin there was a long near 1000m descent down the south side of the mountain to Ikikaya village. A kilometre beyond the lower end of the village was the Iraqi border and most of the land above the centre line of the photo is in Iraq.
17. Milking the sheep near the Hanging Valley zozan. This was the orderly way of milking the sheep where they lined up and Idris, the head shepherd, passed each sheep to the individual owners who milked their own sheep. There was usually one lady, but sometimes 2 or 3, from each household.
18. The view from one of the easier peaks to the east of the Sergera basin looking east towards Samdi Dag, 3811m, the highest peak in the area. The path centre left is another way up from Ikiyaka village over the range at the visible pass and then down past zozans to Varegös
19. The view from one of the easier peaks to the east of the Sergera basin, below, looking west. The mountain in the far distance is Resko, the highest in the whole Cilo-Sat range at 4134m. Gaveruk zozan is between the lakes bottom right and Sergera zozan middle right near the barely visible lake.
20. Some of the children and ladies from the Hanging Valley zozan. The ladies were the mainstay of the zozan and were responsible for all the dairy tasks. They also cooked and looked after the children. The lady on the right with the infant is Fatima.
21.The path between the hanging Valley zozan and the Sergera basin was a few km. To leave the hanging valley the path climbed up the steep slopes to the right and over the lip of the basin. There were often children running errands who went between the camp and the sheep in the pasture.
22.The children in the camp at the zozan were quite an unruly mob. There were perhaps 30 of them and they got up to all sorts of games, but also mischief. I was occasionally the target of their mischief until I grabbed hold of the ringleaders here and reprimanded them.
23. One of Hussein’s younger sons was responsible for turning the feta cheese sacks as they dried in the grass beside the brook and also for loading them onto the mules. Whey dribbled out of them as they were man-handled and often onto the clothes of the young lads who stunk of feta.
24.Two shepherds from Varegös in their felt cloaks. These felt cloaks were homemade from sheep and goats wool and were very warm. At night they tucked their head into one of the shoulders, lay on the floor and wrapped themselves in it. I bought one like this from Hussein.
25. Islam Dugran was a regular shepherd and was often with the herd of sheep. He was one of the rota shepherds who helped Idris Donat. At night they slept near the sheep in a small coral of stones while the dogs watched the sheep. Before they went to sleep the shepherds always brewed tea
26. Islam Dugran with the sheep and his nephew, Namen’s eldest son. Islam had occasional epilepsy but I never saw it so he was seldom left alone and was unmarried. He was a gentle man and reminded me of a typical shepherd from an illustrated edition of the Old Testament.
27. In the centre right of the picture is the Sergera basin with its 5 lakes and two zozan, Sergera and Gaveruk. The herding units who ended the summer here came from the Hanging Valley zozan and one in the valley to the east of it respectively. The black lines are the paths from Ikiyaka to Varegös..
28. Namen Dugran and some of the children at Sergera zozan beside the higher lake. His herding unit of 13 tents moved here from the lower zozan in the Hanging Valley in August each year. One of the black tents behind them is the traditional woven goat hair tent of Hussein Donat.
29.The sheep grazing the new pastures in August between Sergera lake and Buyuk Golu lake, seen in the picture. Another herding unit from Ikiyaka village arrived about the same time each year at their zozan at the east end of Buyuk Golu lake (far end) which was called Gaveruk zozan.
30. Sergera zozan was the camp and herding unit I spent most of my time with. They moved here from the Hanging Valley each August and I moved with them. Just above Sergera was a lake which remained ice covered through the year. Beyond the far ridge is the steep descent to Ikiyaka village.
31. Yusuf Donat was an occasional visitor to the zozans but spent most of the time in the village with his elderly father. His brother Hussein Donat was the leader of the herding unit when they were in the mountains. In the near distance, just before the band of cliffs is Gaveruk zozan.
32. After I had swum in the lake to retrieve some ducks which were shot by the old shepherd’s rifle Hussein persuaded me to teach some of the boys how to swim. Despite the freezing temperatures they managed to stay afloat with a simple breaststroke after a week’s worth of lessons.
33. Hussein with Hodgir. Hodgir was the village teacher and Iman and was quite political. His household had a tent in the herding unit where his wife and children spent the summer doing the dairy tasks. He always dressed in like a peshmerga.
34. Hodgir with his son at the Hanging Valley zozan. There were many people from Ikiyaka and in the surrounding villages with blue eyes or blonde hair and Hodgir’s son had both.
35. Hodgir with Namen’s son. Beside them is one of the village guards, possibly Sadi Aykut, who was visiting Sergera. Sadi was associated with the largest herding unit along with the Muktah’s household beyond the ridge some 3-4 hours from here. I did not visit and knew little about them.
36. Hussein with one of the other men, Mustafa, who was visiting his household’s tent at the zozan. Mustafa spent most of the time in the village while his wife and children stayed at the zozan. On this occasion Mustafa was going down to Varegös to negotiate trading his dairy produce for flour.
37. Namen and Ibrahim and some of the swarm of children at the zozan. Namen spent most of the time at the zozan, while Ibrahim was an occasional visitor either passing through to trade at Varegös or doing a stint of the shepherding rota which his household had to occasionally perform.
38. Namen and Ismail at the Hanging Valley zozan in 1985 with my conical tent behind Namen. Ismail was killed in a grazing dispute when he took some sheep onto the pastures of a herding unit from another village called Gürkavak, which was another village of the Oraman Kurds.
39. Namen brewing tea on a mule dung fire while looking after the goats. Namen had 2 young youth with him to run around the hillside and try and keep the goats together. Tea played a big part in the shepherd life and was drunk with sugar cubes, In fact the tea almost washed the sugar cubes down.
40. Samdi Dag, 3811m from the west at the point I turned around. There was no way I could cross the canyon at the bottom of the picture easily and make it to the final plateau before the glacier and return to the zozan before nightfall.
41.Idris’s wife, Guri, (left) and Hussein’s wife, Huri (right) were always busy. Just after this photo Huri spotted a hole in my sock and without taking the sock off pulled it from my foot and sewed up the hole using the thread she was spinning here.
42. A herding unit arriving at Gaveruk from their previous camp down the mountain, It only took a few hours to unload the mules and put the tents up. Here are the wooden poles to hold the black goat hair tents up. By midday the place had transformed from deserted pasture to bustling zozan.
43. By the afternoon the whole of the Gaveruk zozan was established beside the small stream between two smaller lakes and all the tents had been put up and the women had gone off to milk the sheep which were on their way to the zozan from the previous camp.
44.The colourful ladies at the Gaveruk zozan in their traditional costumes. The sleeves from the dresses were very long, at least a metre, and they were usually tied together behind their backs. On top of these flamboyant dresses they wore a bright blouse, which contrasted with their dress.
45.Yusuf Donat was Hussein’s elder brother and made the occasional visit to the zozans from the village. Beside him is Namen’s eldest son. They are both wearing the traditional Kurdish shalwar trousers which are loose and hard wearing.
46. Namen and Hussein, far right and Sabri, middle left and waving, from Sergera zozan visiting some of the men at Gaveruk zozan on the occasion one of the dogs followed from Sergera and was badly savaged by the dogs at Gaveruk.
47. Gaveruk zozan was beautifully placed beside the stream between two smaller lakes which then flowed into the larger Buyuk Golu lake. The pastures around the zozan were enough so the sheep could graze quite locally and the women did not have to travel far to milk them.
48. Milking the sheep at Gaveruk zozan in the evening. Sometimes the sheep were not milked in an orderly manner and their owners had to chase round after them and grab them before they could milk them. Often the children were used to run after the sheep and grab them.
49. Usually the shepherds at Gaveruk herded the sheep into a line and the sheep queued up quietly passing through two rows of milkers with the main shepherd distributing the sheep to the various individual owners as they came past. Easy sheep would produce a litre of milk in the summer.
50. Namen was popular at Gaveruk zozan also where he had some relations. Whenever he arrived here the children would rush to meet him. Aziz in the yellow and red striped jersey was his nephew but I could not work out the link.
51. The children at Gaveruk zozan. They were like the children of Sergera in so much as they were an untamed feral gang but they did not get up to so much mischief with me and often played in the shallows of the small lake.
52. Sergera zozan (middle left) seen from the path to Ikiyaka village near the pass over the main ridge. It was beside Sergera lake and a little below the ice covered lake just out of the picture to the right. The west end of Buyuk Golu lake can just be seen and the Hanging Valley is below it.
53. Salim was an Iranian Kurd who had been a refugee in Yuksekova and had somehow ended up marrying Namen’s sister, Kurdi. He was the only man I knew of in Ikiyaka who was staying with his wife’s family and they had 2 boys, who would eventually strengthen the weak Dugran family.
54.The Durgan family tree. Namen’s father Megid was the household head but his wife had died. Namen, his brother Islam, and their brother-in-law Salim also lived in the house with a small collection of Megid’s grandchildren.
55. Aziz was Namens’s nephew, albeit once or twice removed, but his parents belonged to the other herding unit at Gaveruk rather than Namens herding unit at Sergera. Although only 6 he had some authority with the other children and I am sure would grow up to be a leader.
56.The large Donat family under the household head of Haggi. He had the descendants of 4 sons living in his household with numerous grandsons and a burgeoning collection of grandchildren. His daughter and most of his granddaughters had married and were living with their husbands family.
57. Abdul Donat was Hussein’s eldest son and around my age, so we became friends . He was the muleteer for the Donat household taking all the dairy produce down to Varegös to trade and then bringing up all the sacks of flour to sustain the household with nan flatbread through the winter.
58. The terraced fields of Ikiyaka village were irrigated by a stream which came out of a cave in the mountain. It was largely vegetables which were grown in them with some cereals. Beyond are the large walnut trees of the village, under which the houses were built in their cool shade.
59. The women of Gaveruk zozan milking the sheep in the morning before they went off to graze on the pastures around the head of the basin. They would return in the evening for another milk. The goats would also be milked here twice a day, but not always in such an orderly fashion.
60. Idris, Myself and Isalm after a night spent looking after the sheep in a coral not far from Sergera zozan. I spent many nights sleeping with these shepherds beside the sheep curled up under my felt kapanak cloak which kept the near zero temperatures out better than my sleeping bag.
61. Leaving Sergera zozan for the last time with Namen, my patron and guardian, escorting me down to Varegös with his mule in tow. Behind Namen is Sergera lake and the tents and just beyond is the ice covered lake near the snow drift.
62. A shepherd’s life in the summer in the beautiful Cilo-Sat mountains was nearly idyllic. It was an eternal lifestyle which had not changed since Abraham of the Old Testament some 250 generations ago. It is our cultural DNA, which is just under the surface;- even in the most developed of cultures.