Kurdish farmers’ tradition of collective harvesting with sickles and song stands the test of time

This report was published by Medya News on 29 June, 2021

Kurdish Farmers in Şırnak follow tradition and sing ‘stran’ in chorus and harvest in harmony.

In the rough terrain around Turkey’s eastern city of Şırnak (Şirnex), where combine harvesters cannot go, villagers harvest their crops collectively by hand using sickles.

To be able to harvest crops efficiently, this old farming tradition requires much physical strength, but more importantly, harmony of movement among the workers. This last is ensured by the workers utilising another, tuneful tradition, to make their difficult job easier.

Farmers harvesting wheat line up side by side and set to with their sickles. They keep the rhythm with the iron bars they use to protect their hands from stems and thorns.

As they gather the bunches of wheat and lie them on the ground, they chant in unison: “May it be plentiful!”

Osman İrmaz is a farmer who leads the wheat harvesting chorus in the traditional Kurdish songs known as ‘stran’ as he works in the fields.

He has worked in the fields for over 30 years. He told MA that the workers find it easier to perform the hard task at hand when they sing in unison, and they do not understand where the time goes.

“I did some work alone the other day, and I did not get much done. But when my friends come and we sing stran all together, we harvest the crops faster and it is much easier.”