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The Global Material Culture of Everyday Living: Ottoman Consumption in a Comparative Perspective

Istanbul Bilgi University, 15-16 September 2011

* This is the second meeting of the AHRC Global Commodities Network *


How did the global exchange of commodities impact on the everyday living of people and change rituals of social interactions? The focus of this meeting is on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumption and material culture, drawing on economics and art history. The event focuses specifically on the role of Ottoman material culture.

 

Programme

Abstracts

 










PROGRAMME

 

Thursday 15 September 2011

09.45-10.00 Introduction by Suraiya Faroqhi


10.00-11.30 Session 1. Men, Women and Inventories

Chair: Anne Gerritsen ( University of Warwick )


Suraiya Faroqhi (Istanbul Bilgi University)

Bursa women and their textiles in the 1730s


Hülya Canbakal ( Sabanci University )

Consumption in Ottoman Manastir ( Bitola ) and Manisa: a Long Term Perspective


Pınar Ceylan ( Sabancı University )

Tracing a 'middle class': an inquiry on the ottoman city of Kayseri , 17th and 18th centuries

 

11.45-12.45 Session 2. Buildings, Houses and Households

Chair: Rebecca Earle ( University of Warwick )


Giorgio Riello ( University of Warwick )

‘Things Seen and Unseen’: Inventories and the Representation of Domestic Interiors in Early Modern Europe


Maximilian Hartmuth ( Sabancı University , Istanbul )

Second-hand Iznik tiles: a commodity by 1600?

 

14.00-15.30 Session 2. Elite Consumption.

Chair: Karina Corrigan ( Peabody Essex Museum )

 

Aykut Mustak ( Sabancı University )

Gifts for the Pasha


Yan Yun ( University of Oxford )

The Daily Life of Official-Elite Families in Eighteenth-Century China: A Case Study of Property-Confiscation


Selim Karahasanoğlu ( Pamukkale University , Denizli)

A Profile of Consumer Behavior in the Early Eighteenth Century of the Ottoman Empire: The Case of Nevşehirli Damad İbrahim Pasha and his Household

 

16.00-17.00 Session 3. Exotic and Foreign

Chair: Dana Leibsohn ( Smith College )

 

Tülay Artan ( Sabancı University )

Consumerism, ‘tuhafiye’ and the perils of long-distance luxury trade


Colette Establet (University of Aix-Marseille)

Consumption ‘a little bit exotic’ in Damascus around 1700

 

17.00-18.00 Session 4. Food

Chair: Suraiya Faroqhi ( Istanbul Bilgi University )

 

Rebecca Earle ( University of Warwick )

Eating the New World


Özge Samancı ( Yeditepe University )

Food Consumption Patterns in Istanbul according to the Reports of French Chamber of Commerce (1894-1911)


Friday 16 September 2011

 

09.00-11.00 Session 5. Luxury

Chair: Giorgio Riello ( University of Wawick )

 

Luca Molà (European University Institute)

New Luxury Goods in Sixteenth-Century Venice


Dana Leibsohn ( Smith College )

If I Were a Rich Man: Luxurious Objects and the Implications of Consumption in Seventeenth-Century Mexico


Dana Sajidi ( Boston College )

Fountains, Tiles and Tea: Elite Houses and Sociability Eighteenth-Century Damascus


Elif Akçetin ( Durham University )

Objects on the Move: Gifts, Commodities and Corrupt objects in the Qianlong reign (1736-1795)


11.30-12.30 Session 6. Clothing

Chair: Luca Molà (European University Institute)


Aliye F. Mataracı

Clothing the Ottomans: Deciding What (not) to Import on the Eve of World War I


Kate Creasey ( Istanbul Bilgi University )

The Sovereign and the the Camera: The Photographic Albums of Sultan Abdülhamid II and the Reimagination of Ottoman Sovereignty


12.30-13.00 Round table

 

14.30-17.00 Visit to the Sadbeck Hanim Museum


 


 


ABSTRACTS


Elif Akçetin ( Durham University )

Objects on the Move: Gifts, Commodities and Corrupt objects in the Qianlong reign (1736-1795)

During the reign of the Qianlong emperor in China, material objects became more visible in comparison to the previous reigns. Trade of commodities such as jade and silks between China proper and Inner Asia flourished as the empire expanded into Xinjiang. Moreover, from the mid-1750s on, there was a noticeable increase in the amount and frequency of tribute (gong) presented by provincial officials to the emperor. The Qianlong emperor’s craze for material things was replicated by the members of the provincial bureaucracy. Sources on corruption indictment cases reveal, for instance, that provincial officials often converted the silver they embezzled from the local treasuries into valuable items which they then offered as gifts/bribes (kuisong) to their superiors. They also show how corrupt officials’ possessions were expropriated (ruguan) by the emperor’s Imperial Household Department, some distributed as gifts (shang) to imperial princes and princesses while others were sold to merchants and converted into silver (bianjia). As these examples suggest, material objects were in constant movement, and acquired various meanings as they circulated in local (i.e. patron-client networks in the provinces) and regional (i.e. inter-provincial trade) circuits of exchange. This paper looks at how material artifacts conveyed certain messages as well as how they can be used as clues to wider social and political processes in the Qing dynasty in second half of the 18th century.


Tülay Artan ( Sabancı University )

Consumerism, “tuhafiye” and the perils of long-distance luxury trade

Contributions of Ottoman historians to Consumption Studies, which began rather belatedly in the past decade, have come to focus on Istanbul in the 18th century. While it is no surprise that the courtly passions of the Ottoman capital, and sultans' conspicuous spending on items ranging from hunting weapons to illustrated manuscripts, best exemplify the aesthetics and the economic capital invested in consumption, the dating of a boom in consumerism to the early 18th century is questionable. Furthermore, in some crucial respects, setting up a standard of living (or of material culture) for the Ottoman elite in Istanbul is going to be very different from their peers in London or Paris or Vienna or Berlin or Rome : any comparable continuity of wealth is simply not available for representation. Also missing so far from the explorations of the Ottoman elite’s consumption habits is any real discussion of the luxury and art market; that is to say, the operations of the dealers and the mechanisms of the trade that provided objects of conspicuous consumption for collectors. It is in this context that I propose to address the sources and suppliers and the perils of long-distance luxury trade in the light of documentation pertaining to the import of tuhafiye to Istanbul from the late 18th to the early 19th century.


Hülya Canbakal ( Sabanci University )

Consumption in Ottoman Manastir: a Long Term Perspective

This paper provides an indirect perspective on the changes in patterns of consumption in Manastir and Manisa from the 17th century to the 19th century. More specifically, it traces ownership of some luxury items (books and watches) and the relative share of personal belongings (personalty) and household items in probate inventories from the period. Preliminary examination of about three thousand inventories from the two cities suggests that while social polarization increased, so did the real wealth of the larger part of the population. Moreover, more people came to own luxury items although the price of the respective goods did not necessarily decline. This may indicate a change in consumption preferences, perhaps, facilitated by a decline in the price of other goods. At the same time, it calls for a consideration of the question of the ‘industrious revolution’ in the Ottoman context. The paper discusses these findings in relation to different wealth and social groups.


Pınar Ceylan ( Sabancı University )

Tracing a 'middle class': an inquiry on the ottoman city of Kayseri , 17th and 18th centuries

The objective of the study presented here, was to develop a definition of an early modern 'Ottoman middle class' in the context of Kayseri through an examination of the changing consumption patterns. Whether the 'middling sort' constituted a distinctive social group in regards to their consumption habits and material well-being, and whether class boundaries can be defined in the basis of the amount of personal consumption goods possessed, are the main questions dealt with. The data examined in this study come from three sets of probate inventories taken from 33 registers. The three sets cover the periods 1660-1680, 1700-1720, and 1780-1800. It is argued that compared to wealth, stocks of personal and household belongings is a better indicator of living standards. The results indicate that from the mid-seventeenth to the late eighteenth century, personal wealth in Kayseri fluctuated in tandem with the ups and downs of the overall economy: rising from the late seventeenth century onwards, and then falling in the late eighteenth century. During the period, the 'middle class', defined through wealth brackets, considerably expanded, whereas the 'middle class', identified on the basis of stocks of consumer durables, expanded in the late seventeenth, and than shrank in the late eighteenth century. Despite the decline in personal wealth and the mean value of consumer durables observed in the inventories belonging to the 'middle class', an analysis of the composition of consumer durables, through an index of amenities, demonstrate signs of improving material standards of living from 1700-1720 to 1780-1800. Furthermore, 'middle class' presented distinguishing consumption patterns, justifying the assumption that classes can also be identified on the basis of consumption habits. The decision to acquire more of the goods mentioned in the index shows a significant shift in tastes of the inhabitants of Kayseri belonging to middle class, who by the end of the eighteenth century, moved beyond the level of sufficiency and owned a range of luxury goods besides the ordinary amenities.

 

Kate Creasey ( Istanbul Bilgi University )

The Sovereign and the Camera: The Photographic Albums of Sultan Abdülhamid II and the Reimagination of Ottoman Sovereignty

This paper is about the photographic albums of Sultan Abdülhamid II. In 1893 the albums were given as gifts to the governments of the United States of America and Great Britain. They contain images from around the Ottoman empire of historical monuments, urban landscapes, military and naval establishments, as well as educational institutions. In the context of this paper I will examine a series of photographs from the albums that depict young elementary school girls, classes of cadets, and portraits of students from the Mekteb-i Aşiret or Tribal School . Different kinds of clothing and material objects were used to denote ethnic and religious differences in the photographs, yet in some instances the models used remained the same. Drawing on the growing literature of Ottoman consumption studies, this paper will look at how costumes, cultural artifacts, and photographic technology were used in the construction of ethnic difference and refashioning of the late Ottoman imperial project.

 

Rebecca Earle ( University of Warwick )

Eating the New World

Tomatoes, chiles, chocolate, maize and a host of other new world ingredients bear daily witness to the transformation of global eating habits that followed European colonisation of the Americas. Nonetheless, we know surprisingly little about the processes whereby these foods were naturalised into the cultural universes of their adoptive lands. How did individual eaters respond to the new foods that curious travellers and sailors brought with them from the Indies? How does the unfamiliar become familiar? This paper examines the historiography on adoption of new world foodstuffs in early modern Europe, and critiques a number of the existing assumptions about how Europeans responded to new world foods.


Colette Establet (University of Aix-Marseille)

Consumption ‘a little bit exotic’ in Damascus around 1700

Ours data are probate inventories which do not contain exactly what was consumed during the life time but what was left by the deceased just after their death. We examined the entire group of the population, reaya and askar, men and women. Consumption is usually very low; in the largest group of society, only from 70 to 100 items. What’s more, the main adjective used to qualify the objects is köhne, that is to say «used». But some of the houses of the upper class of merchants, great families and of askar can exceed 500 different objects. Of course in this unique group we can find the mark of things out of the ordinary, of «exotism»: coffee, dishes and cups from China, clothes made of Indian textiles and lined with Nordic furs, different textile furnishings made from Indian textiles. Practically no European imports: Orient and chiefly India are the principal parts of the world whose production arrives in Damascus .

 

Suraiya Faroqhi (Istanbul Bilgi University)

Women and Textiles in 1730s Bursa

The present paper deals with the possibilities of inheritance inventories for the study of Ottoman females. We will here investigate a group consisting of 80 females that died between 1147/1734-35 and 1149/1736-37; their estate inventories are on record in the Bursa qadi’s register interspersed among the more numerous records concerning males who died during those same years. All the inventories belonging to women that date from this short period and have been read with some confidence will figure in our analysis. But since the inventories are in no way representative of Bursa female population, we cannot claim that the texts discussed represent anybody except the people that they actually cover. In certain context we have attempted to interpret the data from the 1730s by confronting them with information culled from estate inventories from the 1490s. But since so many “unknowns” are involved, this enterprise cannot be termed a systematic comparison. Even so, we can still formulate some working hypotheses. Apparently both the fifteenth-century group and its counterpart from the 1730s were inclined to invest quite heavily in their domestic interiors. Both the 1490s and the 1730s cohort possessed significant numbers of velvet cushions, in addition to the non-silk items which also were sometimes of significant value. If we added on the many curtains, floor covering and other items of whose material we remain ignorant, it seems reasonable to suppose that in 1730s the better-off inhabitants of Bursa lived in homes that were at least as well-appointed as those in which their ancestors had resided during the reign of Bayezid II; and the least certain privileged women owned a significant part of these textile furnishings. Perhaps Bursa women with some money at their disposal often spent it on their homes; this tendency was more marked in the 1490s but had certainly not disappeared in the 1970s. In addition in the mid-1700 women seem to have left many more garments than had been customary in the 1490s. These findings do point to an at least moderate increase in consumption among Bursa’s well –to-to families during the comparatively prosperous mid-eighteenth century.


Maximilian Hartmuth ( Sabancı University , Istanbul )

Second-hand Iznik tiles: a commodity by 1600?

My paper addresses the curious case of a mosque in the Aegean hinterland distinguished not by its architecture, which is generic, but by its adornment with unexpectedly sophisticated Iznik tiles and wood-painted elements. Constituting rare (preserved) examples of this kind in the provinces, we see on them designs and motifs characteristic of the “court style” of the second half of the sixteenth century. While the attractiveness of these elements is acknowledged in the sparse literature on this surprisingly little-known monument, scholarship has not noticed what I maintain to be a gap between the mosque’s date of construction and the production date of the tiles. In contrast to the assumption that monument and tiles date to the same period, I shall argue on that the mosque was built around two decades after the production of the tiles at Iznik. This gap and other odd features diagnosable in situ suggests that the building’s patron, a well-known Ottoman statesman at the time, purchased these costly tiles for re-use in one of the several monuments sponsored by him in his native region. My paper will try to reconstruct their itinerary and ruminate about their meaning to the patron/“conspicuous consumer” and the audience for which they were intended.

 

Selim Karahasanoglu ( Pamukkale University , Denizli)

A Profile of Consumer Behavior in the Early Eighteenth Century of the Ottoman Empire: The Case of Nevşehirli Damad İbrahim Pasha and his Household

This paper aims to trace the consumption patterns of Nevşehirli Damad İbrahim Pasha and his household in early eighteenth century Istanbul . Analyzing the norms of consumption, I focus on the items consumed, along with a quantitative and qualitative discussion of the material. The changing patterns of consumption in the time period from 1718 to 1730 shows striking features, namely that the consumer norms within 1718-30 do not show an increase in comparison to the previous periods. Following a discussion of the sources, this paper describes the consumption patterns of İbrahim and his household and seeks ways to compare these patterns with his coequals’. I compare the consumption of İbrahim’s household with that of his predecessor, grand vizier Şehid Ali Pasha, r. April 17 13-August 1716. This comparison provides rich tools for an elaboration of the concepts of luxury, pageantry and extravagance and lays the groundwork for breaking the stereotypes of the tulip age paradigm as an era of ‘extreme’ consumption. It is this assumption about ‘extreme’ behavioral patterns which resulted in the historiographical treatment of the elites of the age as morally corrupt and the rebellion as a result of extreme consumption. Thus, the issue of consumption in its wider meaning (consumption of goods, food and pleasures) provides us with the potential to cover 1718-30 from several angles. It gives us the tools to think about modesty and extravagance, the well-being of Ottoman society in general, and its possible relation to the 1730 rebellion. In dealing with all these questions and assumptions in a critical manner through an analysis of directly related untapped sources, this paper proves that the perception of the period as one of great extravagance that triggered the 1730 rebellion are distortions of historical writing and only loosely connected to historical reality.

 

Dana Leibsohn ( Smith College )

If I Were a Rich Man: Luxurious Objects and the Implications of Consumption in Seventeenth-Century Mexico

This presentation focuses on consumption, both as historical practice and site of theoretical work from the perspective of early modern Spanish America. Working from a set of inventories from early 17th-century, many of which describe objects imported from afar, I ask how the ‘foreign’ took on meaning in urban settings in Mexico at this time. Traditional scholarship on the early modern period stresses either the ‘colonial outpost’ status of the urban centre or its spectacular taste for display and consumption. Are these the only options? And what are the implications of privileging one of these lenses over the other? One aim of this presentation, then, lies in exploring attitudes towards, and habits of using imported objects in the past (as evidenced from Mexican inventories). A second aim is to explore frameworks for understanding colonial consumption—in the Americas, but also elsewhere. As a comparative contribution to this seminar, my work seeks to both illuminate lived experiences in Spanish America, and raise questions relevant to the mobility of desired objects in other geographic and temporal settings.


Aliye F. Mataracı

Clothing the Ottomans: Deciding What (not) to Import on the Eve of World War I

This paper focuses on the decision-making process behind textile imports from Manchester to Anatolia via Istanbul on the eve of World War I, mainly based on the evidence provided by three Muslim brothers, who were working as trans-regional import and export commission agents at the end of the Ottoman Empire. As intermediaries between demand and supply, the brothers had to take certain decisions to enter as late-comers into a well-established, non-Muslim dominated textiles import market. In this integration process, they exploited the assets they possessed, including their Muslim identity. Their integration strategies also were reflected in the choice of the textiles that they decided to import. This work analyzes the commercial decisions of an Ottoman Muslim commission house right before the beginning of World War I at the crossroads of market rules, the political agenda of the era and individual choices.

 

Luca Molà (European University Institute)

New Luxury Goods in Sixteenth-Century Venice

The paper will explore the interplay between the production and consumption of new types of luxury goods in sixteenth-century Venice . During that century the Venetian industrial structure experienced a considerable growth, which concentrated mostly on the manufacturing of high-quality products. Artisans and entrepreneurs devised ever changing luxury items (from textiles to furniture, from books to musical instruments) that appealed to a widening group of consumers, and employed new marketing strategies to advertise their output. Particular attention will be given to the creation of new glass objects and the diffusion of glass mirrors, which became a hallmark of Venetian craftmanship in Europe and beyond during the early modern period.


Aykut Mustak ( Sabancı University )

Gifts for the Pasha

Having recognized the provenance of redistribution and the items acquired in order to give away, gifts constitute “an appreciable factor of total consumption.” (Faroqhi 2002: 38) Hence, similar to the estate inventories, gift logbooks provide clues for the material composition of the world of consumers. Yet, the locality and timing of consumption do not come into the picture, unless we take heed of the testimony of gifts. By an analysis of BOA MAD d, nos. 1279 and 4973, I’d like to make a case for the temporal and spatial parameters of consumption in the specific form of gifts. So, we shall ask what happens to the items that were presented as gifts, where and when; as well as, when one does the (holiday) shopping to buy presents. In this manner, the case at hand is a preliminary statement on the temporal and spatial dimensions of the acts of consumption, in our case gifting, in order to have a motion picture rather than a still frame of the world of consumer goods.

 

Giorgio Riello ( University of Warwick )

‘Things Seen and Unseen’: Inventories and the Representation of Domestic Interiors in Early Modern Europe

Inventories are neither exact records of an objective reality, nor simple linguistic manifestations. They are the result of ‘strategies’ of representation that are influenced by multiple layers of social, cultural and material circumstances. Conditioned in between language and reality, inventories belong to a specific genre of representation that is the result of defined time-embedded practices and mentalitées dans la longue durée. My paper reflects on the ways in which inventories have been used to understand material possession and the type of research they have inspired. It focuses in particular on the process of creating inventories: the action of ‘inventorying’. This allows us to move from mere lists of objects to the estate, the household, the appraisers, and lastly the owner of the goods. My paper argues that inventories are more than ‘snapshots of reality’ and reflects on the strategies, biases and purposes of the representation provided by an inventory in early modern Europe.


Dana Sajdi ( Boston College )

Fountains, Tiles and Tea: Elite Houses and Sociability in the Eighteenth-Century Damascus

One of the little studied-aspects of the rise of provincial notable households in the Ottoman 18th century is the actual physical locus of their power: their houses. This paper is an overview of the changing patterns in the construction of elite houses in Damascus . Through narrative sources, extant examples of houses in situ, and “period rooms” in international museums, the paper aims to explore various aspects of new elite residences, such as the increase in consumption of palatial architecture and the resultant changes in the urban topography, and the preference for luxury in domestic décor. These changes in the construction and “consumption” of elite homes betray not only new wealth and international connections but also different uses of domestic spaces. It is hoped that the integration of household architecture and decoration to the study of the social and urban history will result in a better understanding of the phenomenon of “provincial notables” and the constitution of the “ Old City ” of Damascus .

 

Özge Samancı ( Yeditepe University )

"Food Consumption Patterns in Istanbul according to the Reports of French Chamber of Commerce (1894-1911)"

La Revue Commerciale  du Levant, the bulletin of the French Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul which was started to be published during the last decade of the 19th century constitutes the primary sources exploited in this study. The reports made by French Chamber of Commerce aimed to give a general panorama of Istanbul ’s economic and social life to the French entrepreneurs who wished to enter to the Ottoman market. These reports include very rich and detailed information about the foodstuff and beverage available in Istanbul at that time. The aim of this paper is to give through these reports an inclusive list of food, food products and beverages that were present in Ottoman capital during the last decades of the empire. This study enables also to find out the exportation and importation activities in food and beverage sector in Istanbul of the time. The entry of new and exotic food products to the Ottoman market and the general food consumption patterns of Istanbul inhabitants constitute key themes in this study.


Yan Yun ( University of Oxford )

The Daily Life of Official-Elite Families in Eighteenth-Century China: A Case Study of Property-Confiscation

Confiscation of household property was a significant political phenomenon in the Qing Dynasty. As a punitive measure, it was not unique to the Qing. But its frequency and severity made it almost a distinctive feature of the Qing period. What is more, it has left us a great deal of data which can be found in Imperial Household Accounts, Secret Palace Memorials and Grand Council Archives etc, all from the Palace Archives. Those records, with their complete coverage, impressive size, and degree of precision, allow researchers today to gain insights into the contemporary material life of the official-elite stratum in the Qing. Especially, during the Qianlong Emperor’s reign (1735-1796), when confiscations happened even more frequently, officials who had engaged in or were suspected of having engaged in corruption, embezzlement of public funds, malpractice, negligence or some other transgressions (such as possessing disrespectful writings) would be confined and interrogated, with all their property being searched for (from their hometowns as well as from their official districts), sealed up and registered for confiscation. The report on their property, generally in the form of inventories, would be submitted to the court. In this paper, a typical confiscation case in 1782 on Chen Huizu, a Qing official, will be singled out for detailed study, with objects listed in the inventories being visualized as far as possible, aiming to enter into and reconstruct the daily life of a Qing official-elite family.

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