Meskhetians - Economy

Much of traditional Meskhetian material culture was lost as a result of the forced resettlement. The loss was especially marked in regard to agricultural practices, food, clothing, and architecture. The Turks, finding themselves in new ethnic and economic situations and lacking the experience necessary to cope with them, resorted to borrowing from their neighbors the basic components needed for daily life. Among these were the systems of agriculture and animal husbandry and the basic forms of the contemporary dwelling. Even as they maintained several symbols of their traditional culture (festival costumes, several characteristic types of headgear, food ingredients, festival cuisine), the Meskhetians borrowed other cultural elements from the Central Asians (some aspects of traditional dress, cuisine, and the interior layout of the home). There were in essence two types of borrowing: (1) those necessary to cope with the needs of daily life and (2) borrowings that functioned as communicative signs in the realm of interethnic contact. The loss of their traditional agricultural practices, in the context of the further disruption of their traditional way of life, has compelled the Meskhetians to adopt new techniques compatible with their new circumstances. For the most part, this has been within the framework of village agriculture and gardening on the private plots allotted to collective farmers. The produce is sold at the market. It must be noted that until their expulsion from the Caucasus, the Meskhetians practically saturated the markets of Georgia with high-quality agricultural products. Today the goal of the Meskhetian population is to rebuild their ruined villages and cultivate once again their abandoned fields.

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