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Bread from the Lion's Mouth

Bread from the Lion's Mouth: Artisans Struggling for a Livelihood in Ottoman Cities

Edited by Suraiya Faroqhi
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    Bread from the Lion's Mouth
    Book Description:

    The newly awakened interest in the lives of craftspeople in Turkey is highlighted in this collection, which uses archival documents to follow Ottoman artisans from the late 15th century to the beginning of the 20th. The authors examine historical changes in the lives of artisans, focusing on the craft organizations (or guilds) that underwent substantial changes over the centuries. The guilds transformed and eventually dissolved as they were increasingly co-opted by modernization and state-building projects, and by the movement of manufacturing to the countryside. In consequence by the 20th century, many artisans had to confront the forces of capitalism and world trade without significant protection, just as the Ottoman Empire was itself in the process of dissolution.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-559-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures/Maps/Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Timeline
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  6. Map
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. Introduction: Once Again, Ottoman Artisans
    (pp. 1-48)
    Suraiya Faroqhi

    Who would have believed it thirty or forty years ago: with the beginning of the new millennium, the crafts and craftspeople of the Ottoman lands have become a popular topic; and while otherwise the present fashion for Ottoman history current in today’s Turkey highlights the 1800s and early 1900s, in the case of artisans the pre-Tanzimat period (late fifteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries) has also come in for its share of attention. We may speculate about the reasons: nostalgia for a defunct empire must be one of them, because in the mega-city of Istanbul, the media and the public are fond...

  8. Part I: Artisans over the Course of Time

    • Chapter 1 Tracing Esnaf in Late Fifteenth-Century Bursa Court Records
      (pp. 51-69)
      İklil Selçuk

      This chapter addresses a fundamental question concerning Ottoman artisan production: when and through what kinds of processes did formal, hierarchically organized guilds appear in Ottoman towns? Whether or not such organizations existed before the late sixteenth century is to some extent a ‘loaded’ question; for it relates to discussions, once quite heated among historians and sociologists concerned with the comparison between European and Islamic societies. Among other matters these discussions revolved around the question whether there was an ‘Islamic City’ that could historically and physically be distinguished from other urban types; in this context scholars debated whether professional guilds and...

    • Chapter 2 History, Meet Archaeology: The Potter’s Craft in Ottoman Hungary
      (pp. 70-87)
      Géza Dávid and Ibolya Gerelyes

      In this chapter, the craft of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ottoman potters whose works have been found on Hungarian soil will help us to envisage the relevance of material culture for the study of social history.¹ We are thus concerned with the meeting of two disciplines with different methodologies, namely history and archaeology. For it is when dealing with the Hungarian provinces that Ottomanist historians must face the incontrovertible fact that only physical remains can answer at least some of the questions that a social historian may ask. What did people’s houses and vegetable gardens look like, what sorts of food...

    • Chapter 3 Damascene Artisans around 1700
      (pp. 88-107)
      Colette Establet

      Damascus used to be known for its considerable wealth of Ottoman documentation: it remains to be seen how much of it has survived the current civil war. Compared to the northern metropolis of Aleppo, the city of Damascus was less involved in Iranian and/or European commerce; and the city always projected an image that was emphatically Islamic.

      But local trade within Syria was important for the inhabitants; and a number of caravansaries or khans were built in the Ottoman period. By the eighteenth century the courts of these buildings had often been roofed over, giving them the appearance of covered...

    • Chapter 4 Mapping Istanbul’s Hammams of 1752 and their Employees
      (pp. 108-135)
      Nina Ergin

      Following the Patrona Halil Revolt, which ended on 2 October 1730 with the deposition of Sultan Ahmed III, the Ottoman administration became especially concerned about the great number of Patrona Halil’s fellow countrymen – that is, Albanians – who crowded into Istanbul in search of employment. In the view of Istanbul bureaucrats these men constituted a dangerous ‘mob’.¹ Of particular interest to officialdom were the many Albaniantellâksandnâtirsstaffing Istanbul’s bathhouses, since Patrona Halil himself had been a bath attendant.² Moreover the latter’s ability to mobilize a rebellious crowd was based not only on ethnic solidarity (or being...

    • Chapter 5 Surviving in Difficult Times: The Cotton and Silk Trades in Bursa around 1800
      (pp. 136-156)
      Suraiya Faroqhi

      In this chapter we will mainly deal with the work of artisans who produced textiles with a significant share of cotton fibre, and with the business of merchants who made the relevant products available to a larger clientele. We will focus on Bursa in north-western Anatolia. Despite serious competition from Izmir, this city in the late 1700s was still an economic metropolis and in addition the ‘workshop’ of Istanbul.¹ Raw cotton must have come from the Aegean seaboard, then as now a major producer. Moreover, since the 1600s, the countryside surrounding Bursa was a source of raw silk, a fact...

    • Chapter 6 The Shoe Guilds of Istanbul in the Early Nineteenth Century: A Case Study
      (pp. 157-172)
      Nalan Turna

      The shoe guilds of early nineteenth-century Istanbul provide a vivid illustration of the changing nature of urban economic activity during that crisis-ridden period.¹ Beginning with a brief profile of the guilds in question, this chapter turns to a consideration of how the posts of guild wardens/headmen changed hands, followed by an account of the dissolution of guild monopolies – the latter phenomenon demonstrating just how active and fluid the shoe market was. To evaluate the tendencies towards a less monopolistic economy, the chapter also discusses guild disputes, and concludes with a brief survey of the changing relationship between guilds and...

  9. Part II: Intra-guild Problems

    • Chapter 7 Blurred Boundaries between Soldiers and Civilians: Artisan Janissaries in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul
      (pp. 175-193)
      Gülay Yılmaz Diko

      From the Ottoman chronicler Naima (1655–1716) we learn that when, in 1651, Istanbul artisans mass-petitioned the palace against the tyranny and the high taxes exacted by the janissary commanders (aghas), the guards of the latter threatened to kill the complainants. In the events which followed, the aghas rebelled. Yet they could not obtain the support of the heads of the hierarchy of judges cum religious scholars (müftü, kadıasker,and the chief judge of Istanbul), and nor did the city folk support them. On the contrary, people poured into the palace court and the open spaces around Haghia Sophia and...

    • Chapter 8 Rich Artisans and Poor Merchants? A Critical Look at the Supposed Egalitarianism in Ottoman Guilds
      (pp. 194-216)
      Eunjeong Yi

      It has been generally assumed that Ottoman guildsmen were immersed insufı-futuwwamentality.¹ Certainly there were many complaints about greedy and dishonest artisans who did not live up to thefutuwwaideal.² But even so,futuwwahas been considered a vital principle for guildsmen at least on the basic, organizational level. Artisans were reportedly not only against pursuing profit for its own sake but also against competition between colleagues that would favour the strong at the expense of the weak.³ For artisans, religious morality was supposedly more important than worldly wealth. Our overall impression of Ottoman guilds, therefore, is one...

    • Chapter 9 Gedik: What’s in a Name?
      (pp. 217-236)
      Seven Ağır and Onur Yıldırım

      The rules determining the ownership of capital assets are crucial to understanding the ways in which society distributes the returns to commercial activity. In this chapter, we will explore how these rules were defined and contested in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Istanbul.

      With this aim in mind, we intend to closely examine an eighteenth-century institutional innovation, namely thegedik, a term whose dictionary meaning is ‘gap, slot, or opening’. Given the multitude of meanings and functions ascribed to this term, it is rather ambiguous and thus ‘a concept too many’.¹ Various authors have explored the eighteenth century emergence and...

    • Chapter 10 Punishment, Repression and Violence in the Marketplace: Istanbul, 1730–1840
      (pp. 237-256)
      Engin Deniz Akarlı

      Maintaining a degree of harmony and predictability in the fluctuating labyrinth of human interactions, with minimal recourse to coercion and violence, has been a challenge for any given polity in human history. Some of the best minds in all ages and places have addressed the challenge and helped to develop means of dealing with it as effectively as possible. All responses have been obviously imperfect, and historically as well as spatially contingent. Yet, we can learn from the experience of different times and cultures to better understand the problems of maintaining relatively peaceful relations in a given society. If the...

  10. Part III: Artisans Confronting the Modernizing State

    • Chapter 11 Some Observations on Istanbul’s Artisans during the Reign of Selim III (1789–1808)
      (pp. 259-277)
      Betül Başaran and Cengiz Kırlı

      During the reign of Sultan Selim III (1789–1807) the Ottoman central administration began a periodic registration of certain segments of Istanbul’s inhabitants, partly out of the growing fear of an urban population that members of the state apparatus perceived to be potentially unruly. These inspection registers or survey records, which we have been the first to study, provide us with invaluable information about the composition of the city’s population and their occupations.

      In a recent study, Betul Başaran suggests that the estimated population for late eighteenth-century Greater Istanbul was slightly above 400,000.¹ Based on a census in 1829, contemporary...

    • Chapter 12 Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire: Protest, the State, and the End of the Guilds in Egypt
      (pp. 278-292)
      John Chalcraft

      The decline and disappearance of the Egyptian guilds in the period 1800–1914 is often still seen as a top-down affair, in which decaying and passive traditional trades and guilds were, on the one hand, destroyed by imports and world economic integration, and on the other abolished by official decree linked to the reforming projects of modernizing elites.¹ My research has attempted to revise this top-down picture by recovering grassroots histories of guilds, crafts and service-workers.² Against the received wisdom, I contend that crafts and service-workers were not passive bystanders in the demise of their guilds, but through adaptation and...

  11. Glossary
    (pp. 293-305)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 306-334)
  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 335-339)
  14. Index
    (pp. 340-350)