Kurds - Economy

The nomadic pastoralists raise sheep and goats and trade wool, meat, and dairy products for grain, tea, sugar, and other consumer products available through the local markets. Other domesticated animals include cattle, donkeys, mules, and horses.

In the agricultural villages, wheat, barley, and lentils are the staple crops. Tobacco is raised as a cash crop, and walnuts, fruits, and vegetables are cultivated according to local conditions. Most agriculturists also have livestock.

Domestic industry consists of spinning, weaving, plaiting ropes, and the production of unglazed clay storage vessels.

The distribution of labor is based on the distinction between male and female tasks and that between peasants and aristocratic landowners. Women are responsible for milking and the processing of butter and cultured milk. In addition to preparing food, housekeeping, and child care, they collect firewood and manure for use as fuel, fetch water, clean grain, spin, weave, make cigarettes, harvest tobacco, carry the harvest to the threshing floor, and may help with plowing. Aristocratic women perform tasks within the home but have servants to do the work away from home, such as milking and fetching fuel.

Men plow, sow, and harvest, transport surplus grain to the town market, and make whatever purchases are needed at the market. Usually one shepard is employed to herd the flocks for the entire village. Traditionally, the agha (lineage, clan, or village leader), was responsible for the upkeep of a guest house in which visitors to the village were lodged and entertained and where village men met to discuss recent events. In return for this service, the agha was paid a tribute of approximately 10 percent of the villagers' harvest. Village guest houses are no longer as important as they once were. As the village leaders have moved away to the larger towns, the village guest houses have begun to disappear, and the men socialize instead at local tea houses.

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