Saturday, September 12, 2009

People I met

I am carrying out a rapid survey of agriculture in the area surrounding the city of Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, in Iraq. I have posted earlier about Erbil, its agriculture and its food traditions (see here, here and here), and will do more soon. But this post is about some very interesting people I have met during my work today.

Those who know me and who have been following this blog will know that I am carrying out research on a Bedouin community in Lebanon, the Abu Eid, a branch of the `Anezeh tribe. So when I saw a Beduin tent and lots of sheep and some goats, I just had to go and check it out. I met Ali, below, who took me to his family.

Ali's family is from the Shummar tribe, and they come from the area around Mosul. They seem to be established around Erbil, where it is much safer. They have about 300 heads of sheep, although there could be more grazing elsewhere. They also had a couple of pickup trucks and a huge 6 wheels truch to move the sheep. They told me they were doing fine financially, and they sell the milk and the meat to the Erbil market.

I used the three words of Bedouin dialect I know, and they invited me into the tent. I saw these very nice quilts, very similar to the ones I have seen in the houses and the tents of the Lebanese Bedouin.

I asked these two Bedouin women if I could take their pictures. They both have beautiful face and hand tatoos, very fine, typical of the Iraqi Bedouin tatoos. Unfortunately, as I used my phone to take photos, they don't show very well.

Very close to the Bedouin camp, I met another Arab family from Mosul. There are many Arab farm workers around Erbil, and, according to one of the Kurdish land owners, they are the main source of farm labor in the area. I talked to the men, who are working as wage laborers on the lands of one of the Kurdish village sheikh's. They agreed to let me take their pictures.

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