Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 41, No.

2, 193 – 200, March 2005

The Ottoman Ceremony of the Royal Purse
SYED TANVIR WASTI
Unlike more utilitarian systems of government, empires possess a panoply of pomp and ceremony, and various observances, stemming often from simple events, which may crystallize over the centuries into highly meaningful and honoured traditions.1 The Ottoman Empire officially spanned a period of over 600 years and, spread as it was over the heartlands of Islam, possessed, adopted, created and celebrated, in addition to the religious festivals of the faith, more socially and politically oriented rites and usages as part of its paternalistic and generous approach towards its citizenry. Information on many of these ceremonies may be found in specialized sources on Ottoman history, such as Pakalın2 and Abdulaziz Bey.3 The weekly ¨ selaˆmlık4 ceremony, especially during the long reign of the sultan Abdulhamid II, ¨ used to attract crowds of guests as well as visitors from within Turkey and elsewhere.5 In the month of Ramadan, the ceremony of the Hırka – yı Saadet6 was a typical example of a devotional festival and this ceremony continues today. Among other feasts frequently referred to in Ottoman accounts may be included the Kılıc ¸ Alayı7 and also the Baklava Alayı.8 The Surre Alayı,9 which is the subject of the present article, was an annual colourful procession centred round the transportation of the surre – the large leather purse or pouch containing gifts of gold in coin and bullion from the Ottoman sultan to the Emirate of Mecca and, as such, was considered an important event in the official calendar. In addition to the gold, it was customary for the Sultan (and his household members) to send gifts such as handwritten copies of the Qur’an, silk carpets, furs and velvet, chandeliers, silverware, prayer beads, incense burners, articles of dress embroidered with pearls and precious stones and even parcels of comestibles. The surre caravan thus formed the official and most prominent component of the vast numbers of other caravans that transported pilgrims on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Hijaz. The Ottoman Sultan who, since 1517, also held the title of Caliph, sent the surre in his capacity as the Servitor of the Haremeyn.10 According to historical accounts, the tradition of sending the surre to Mecca and Medina commenced in Baghdad during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Mehdi. Subsequent Caliphs continued with the practice, which was occasionally interrupted by war. In later years, the Fatimids and the Ayyubids also sent cash, presents and even loads of grain to the Hijaz as part of the surre. Turkish sultans began to send caravans carrying presents to the Hijaz starting with Celebi Sultan Mehmet.11 Here it ¸ may also be mentioned that Farooqi12 has a comprehensive chapter mentioning the financial patronage accorded over centuries to the Sharifs of Mecca by Muslim
ISSN 0026-3206 Print/1743-7881 Online/05/020193-08 # 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd DOI: 10.1080/00263200500035116

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Indian rulers not only from the Mughal dynasty but also from among the Bahmani sultans of the Deccan and the Muzaffarids of Gujerat. Accounts indicate that, as a pious duty, the last of the Great Mughals, Aurengzebe, sent copies of the Qur’an handwritten by himself to the sacred sites in Mecca and Medina. The surre procession should not be confused with the Mahmil13 procession, another ceremony dating back several centuries. A comprehensive account of the institution of the surre has been compiled by Atalar.14 In addition to historical details, Atalar has given a compendium of terms and titles pertaining directly to the surre. He mentions that information relating to the surre was included by D’Ohsson15 in his several volume treatise16 on the Ottoman empire. After the Ottoman capital was moved to Istanbul in 1453, the surre procession along with the caravans of Hajj pilgrims would leave the city customarily on the 12th of the month of Recep.17 The heavy cloth covering of the Ka‘ba18 used to be woven and embroidered in Cairo and sent separately from Egypt to Mecca as part of the Egyptian Mahmil, but after the invasion of Egypt in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the practice was discontinued and the covering began to be woven in Istanbul by specialized weavers in the courtyard of the Sultanahmet mosque.19 However, the embroidery of the Quranic calligraphy that formed and still forms part of the Ka‘ba covering was, by tradition, carried out in Cairo and so during the Ottoman Empire this cover was sent to Mecca every year by way of Cairo.20 The year old Ka‘ba covering was brought back to Istanbul and delivered to the Mabeyn,21 after which it was cut up into small pieces of cloth and distributed to palace visitors, pilgrims and others. These pious souvenirs were recycled by their owners into containers for the Qur’an, used as prayer mats, for covering sarcophagi22 or even as objets d’art. The silver and gold calligraphy that once hung on the walls of the house23 of Allah now graces the tiled wall of many an Istanbul mosque. The Surre Alayı also formed an integral part of the many pious entertainments of the Ottoman sultan’s household. Ays¸ e Osmanoglu, the daughter of the sultan ˘ Abdulhamid, recalls this event in her memoirs:24 ¨ A special feature of the Berat Kandili25 was the arrival and departure of the camel litter carrying the annual gifts in gold and kind from the Sultan to Mecca and Medina. The Chief Eunuch with his staff of gold and ivory with his retinue would bring the camel litter into the garden of the Harem with devotional songs and cries of Allahu¨ Ekber.26 All the ladies of the harem would visit the litter and contribute cloth for the covering of the litter, which was prepared by a couple of women skilled in sewing and embroidery. The next day the Surre Alayı, or Procession of the Royal Purse, would be organized. The womenfolk of the palace also contributed money and presents in leather pouches to be sent to families in Mecca and Medina as charity. These pouches would be sealed with a special seal bearing the inscription ‘come and go in safety’. . . The Surre Emini27 would prepare the procession and camel caravan, the Sultan would emerge surrounded by pashas at the windows of the Yıldız palace, and we too would watch the procession leave, preceded by hakkaˆms28 who beat large drums and performed folk dances. As soon as ¨ the news of the caravan having crossed to Uskudar29 arrived, cannon were ¨ fired by way of farewell.

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From the Yıldız palace, the surre caravan would congregate near the Dolmabahce ¸ mosque, and then move towards the sea front of the Topkapı palace at Sirkeci for ¨ the crossing to Uskudar. The jetty on the Asian end receiving the caravan was called ¨ the Harem pier as there was an uninterrupted stretch of land under Ottoman suzerainty between the Asian shores of the Bosphorus and the ‘Haremeyn’ – the ¨ cities of Mecca and Medina. Uskudar also possesses as a landmark the famous ¨ Parting Fountain.30 The main traditional Hajj caravan routes used to bifurcate shortly after arrival at ¨ ¨ Uskudar, with one set of caravans following the itinerary Uskudar–Eskis¸ ehir– ¨ ¨ Aks¸ ehir–Konya–Adana–Antakya–Halep (Aleppo) – Sam (Damascus), and another ¸ ¨ via Uskudar–Gebze–Iznik–Sapanca–Geyve–Hendek–Ayas¸ –Duzce–Bolu–Merzifon– ¨ ¨ Amasya–Turhal–Tokat–Sivas–Malatya–Diyarbakır–Sam (Damascus). Thus it was ¸ customary for all the Hajj caravans, including those that came from other parts of the Ottoman dominions, to team up at Damascus, celebrate the feast of Seker ¸ Bayramı and then move on for the 60-day camel journey between Damascus and Mecca. This was conducted under the supervision of the Pasha of Damascus, with either the Pasha himself or one of his colleagues being appointed as the Hac Emini31 for that year. It was the responsibility of this high-placed official to ensure that the pilgrimage took place in safe and uneventful fashion. The administrative workings of a large empire like the Ottoman had, perforce, to be kept under constant supervision. Annual registers for the surre were compiled, giving details of the donors as well as recipients of all charitable items. It was possible for the recipients of surre largesse to opt out of the system if they were no longer needy, and other persons were chosen in their place. Apart from the gold and costly presents that had Mecca and Medina as their destination, there were also gold liras, gifts and parcels to be distributed to needy and not so needy persons over the hundreds of kilometres en route. Particularly in the desert regions, the Bedouin who catered for the food and water needs of the pilgrims had to be compensated. Spreading the wealth of a prosperous Islamic empire was one of the obligations of the rulers and the aristocracy, and the surre was one of many methods by which this could be achieved. Be that as it may, the Ottomans were scrupulous managers, and the Turkish State Archives hold today apparently all the original Surre Registers for the years 1600–1909, excluding some five or six years when the processions for the Hajj and the surre were interrupted by some force majeure. The caravans for the pilgrimage, as well as the procession for the surre, were comprised of camels, horses and mules till 1864, when an alternative route came into operation. This consisted of a sea trip from Istanbul to Beirut, followed by joining the caravan at Damascus. After the operation of the Hijaz Railway,32 the surre and pilgrim caravans would cross from Sirkeci directly to the Haydarpas¸ a terminus of the railway. The progress of the surre procession overland along with the Hajj caravans in the nineteenth century (as also in earlier eras) posed several logistical and security problems. Although the Ottomans and earlier rulers like the Mamelukes of Egypt had built a whole succession of forts along the route to the Hijaz, occasional disruptions were encountered. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, the Wahhabi rebellions33 posed a threat to both the surre caravan and the Hajj pilgrims. There was even an instance of bandits making off with the money and offerings of

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the Sultan Mustafa IV,34 who was deeply grieved by this untoward incident, as narrated in a sad poem of the time.35 Usually, however, the surre and Hajj caravans would, after breaking journey in Medina for a visit to the tomb of the Prophet, reach Mecca after a long but uneventful journey. The Surre Emiri would transfer the surre with the money and presents to the Emir of Mecca along with the Royal Letter in ceremonial fashion. The Emir would kiss the Sultan’s letter and touch his forehead with it, and then proclaim its public recital from Mina.36 After the contents of the surre had reached their chosen recipients, the Emir of Mecca would send a letter of gratitude and prayers for the Sultan through a special messenger who would return with the Hajj caravans. This return of the Hajj and surre caravans to Istanbul was timed so that their arrival in Istanbul would coincide with the Mevlid Kandili.37 With meticulous detail, the administrative, economic and security aspects of the pilgrimage, along with the concomitant subsidies (including the surre) are treated by Faroqhi.38 She writes: For the most part, the safety of the pilgrimage was assured by official subsidies to the Beduins living along the hajj route (su¨rre). In Ottoman government circles, these payments were interpreted as a counterpart to the food and water which the Beduins delivered to the caravan. But when the payments were not made on time or did not satisfy the recipients in terms of quantity or quality, the Beduins felt justified in attacking the pilgrims and thus securing their subsidies manu militari. Therefore the su¨rre should be regarded not as a mere payment for services rendered, but as a means of protecting the caravan from Beduin attack. No doubt, for long periods after the assumption of the Caliphate by the Ottoman sultan Yavuz Selim in 1517, the distribution of the surre funds did much to keep any local discontent muted and to ensure the smooth progress of the Hajj processions through the desert. It would be somewhat limiting, however, to interpret the surre primarily as an overall economic sweetener or subsidy to facilitate the safety and security of the Hajj pilgrimage. Like the Hajj itself, the time honoured practice of the surre possessed a distinctly spiritual content. Atalar points out that sums of money sent to the Bedouin to ensure the safety of the route of the Hajj caravans were treated differently and filed under separate dossiers with the title of Urbaˆn surresi.39 To return to Faroqhi:40 . . . the failure of a pilgrimage caravan to reach Mecca and return home safely constituted a severe liability to the Sultan . . . occupying the Ottoman throne. Indeed, the Sultan, with his title of the Servitor of the Two Holy Places, naturally had the right and the obligation, as well as the power, to protect the pilgrimage. Furthermore, the construction of a grand building or the endowment of a pious foundation within the Haremeyn was an honour that ennobled the donor when the eyes of pilgrims from the far corners of the Islamic world fell on the structure that embodied that munificence. It is worth mentioning that because of the constraints of distance and the necessity of leaving their capitals for several months with the

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concomitant problems that this might entail, very few reigning Muslim monarchs whether in Istanbul or Agra or elsewhere could actually consider proceeding for the Hajj pilgrimage. The surre and similar tributes were not substitutes, but annual occasions that afforded Muslim rulers the opportunity at least to send caravans of charity to the holy places of Islam. Descriptions of the surre are frequent in Turkish literary memoirs and other sociohistorical writings. Ercument Ekrem Talu,41 a well-known author, is quoted by ¨ Atalar42 as follows: The surre comprised one of the most curious, spectacular and impressive ceremonies of the Istanbul of old. Not only the palace, but the citizenry attached great importance to the ceremony. In addition to the royal purse, pouches could be despatched by any Muslim to the holy places by earlier application to the Ministry of Pious Foundations. These special pouches carried the names of the donors and the recipients. Donors usually inserted cash and the gratitude of the recipients was usually expressed by the sending of presents in return such as the water from the well of Zemzem,43 henna, dates, rings with mounted agates, etc. . . . The annual departure of the surre caravan provided an occasion for charitable feasts, incense burning in the palace gardens and invocations like Allahu¨ Ekber.44 A racy description of the Surre ceremony as it took place during his tenure as First Secretary to the sultan Mehmed V45 has been given by Halid Ziya Us¸ aklıgil.46 He claims that not many young people possess any information about the ceremony, and goes on: The Sultan and Caliph also held the title of ‘Servant of the Haremeyn’ and this is why money was sent to the Hijaz every year. The Hijaz was a province, and Mecca an emirate, and though in order to defray the expenses of the civil servants and the military garrison stationed there it might have been considered as a first option that taxes would be collected locally, the Ottoman government not only supplied all the budget for the province of the Hijaz but, furthermore, subscribed to the tradition of sending to the emirate annually a large sum of money known as the Surre or Royal Purse. How was this money spent? In addition to meeting the expenses of the local administration, the emirate used to distribute a substantial portion of this payment to the clan chiefs and tribal sheikhs, thus ensuring that the pilgrim caravans arriving for the Hajj would remain immune from attack or harassment by the local Bedouin. This is why the Surre procession had to be organized well before the arrival of the season for the Hajj pilgrimage.47 What about the ceremonies? A long time before the departure of the procession, the Ministry of Pious Foundations, after sifting through numerous applications and recommendations would select the person to take responsibility as the Surre Emini, or Trustee of the Purse. The gold and silver to be despatched would then be filled into strong pouches, knotted and sealed and then loaded on to a camel – who might be considered the main actor of the ceremony. Naturally, a well developed and even imposing camel was chosen and colourfully caparisoned.48

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The sultan especially came down from the Yıldız palace to the Dolmabahce ¸ palace for the ceremony; the procession of the decorated camel, the Surre Emini and his retinue, accompanying officials and servants would commence the slow walk down the palace gardens, the camel bells tinkling, first going round three times in a circle. The sultan, his ministers, and the harem ladies on the terraces, as well as a large crowd of spectators would spend an hour to watch the camel’s swaying gait and hear the ear-splitting peals of the bells. With everybody happy, the long journey began. With the revolt in 1916 against the Ottomans by Sherif Huseyin and the Arabs ¨ supporting him, the surre tradition received the coup de graˆce. The surre was sent by the Ottomans to Medina with difficulty in 1916, but the surre caravan could not proceed beyond Damascus in 1917 and 1918 and the gifts were dispensed with there.49 In spite of all travails, the embroidered covering of the Ka‘ba sent from Istanbul reached Medina for the last time50 on 26 September 1917 and was transferred to Mecca, though the Emir was no longer faithful to the Caliph. After centuries of fulfilling a charitable duty, the surre procession could not be assembled in the year 1919. However, the Sultan Vahideddin51 still sent a large sum of money to Mecca in 1920 for distribution to the needy in his position as Caliph. As the Hijaz was no longer under Ottoman control, the surre ceremony became a part of history. Notes
1. The Knighthood of the Garter could be considered a suitable example. 2. M. Zeki Pakalın, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri So ¨zlu¨g˘u¨ [Dictionary of Ottoman Historical Expressions and Terms], (Istanbul: Millıˆ Egitim Bakanlıgı Yayınları, 3 vols, 1993). ˘ ˘ 3. Abdulaziz Bey, in K. Arısan & D.A. Gunay (eds.), Osmanlı Adet, Merasim ve Tabirleri [Ottoman ¨ ¨ Customs, Ceremonies and Terms], (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yayınları, 2002), 612 pp. ˆmlık was the colourful official procession of the Sultan along with high-ranking officials for 4. The sela the Friday congregational prayers. On important occasions, the mosque of Eyup was chosen by the ¨ sultan as the venue for this weekly prayer. This mosque and a large cemetery surround the venerated tomb of Abu Ayyub b. Zayd al-Ansari, a Companion of the Prophet, who died while on one of the first military missions (in the late 7th century) to capture Constantinople. 5. Several descriptive accounts of the selaˆmlık ceremony may be found in the travel diaries of visitors to Istanbul from South Asia. Among them may be mentioned the book in Urdu: Sir Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Maqam-e-Khilafat [The Seat of the Caliphate], subtitled Safar-e-Istanbul ke Halat [Account of the journey to Istanbul], (Delhi: Makhzan Press, n.d.), 274 pp. See also S.T. Wasti, ‘Two Muslim Travelogues: To and From Istanbul’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.27, No.3 (1991), pp.457–76. 6. The Hırka-yı Saadet [the Cloak of Happiness]is a cloak belonging to the prophet Muhammed and was brought to Istanbul by the sultan Yavuz Selim (often referred to in European sources as Selim the Grim) when he assumed the title of Caliph. It has been the custom ever since to exhibit the cloak (in a sealed glass container) to visitors in special precincts in the Topkapı Palace for several days starting in the middle of Ramadan. Halid Ziya Us¸ aklıgil, q.v., writes that the sight of the cloak of the Prophet whose name had been proclaimed for centuries from every minaret to millions in every Muslim country caused every visitor regardless of rank to tremble with spiritual emotion. 7. The ceremony of the kılıc alayı consisted of the girding of the sword (either that of the Prophet or of ¸ Osman, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty) in the mausoleum of Halid ibn-i Zeyd at Eyup, and it ¨ was one of the several ceremonies forming part of the coronation festivities for a sultan. 8. The baklava alayı or baklava procession involved the ceremonial offering by the sultan of a tray of baklava (a well-known Turkish dessert of flaky pastry interlaced with crushed pistachios and honey]

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9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14. 15. 16. 17.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

26. 27.

for every ten janissaries and coincided with the fifteenth day of Ramadan. This ceremony was discontinued after the disbanding of the janissaries by sultan Mahmud II. Surre literally means a purse of the traditional type closed by drawn strings; alay means regiment and in this context would be rendered more accurately as procession. The official designation of the observance was Surre–i Hu¨maˆyu the word hu ˆn; ¨maˆyuˆn, meaning auspicious, was added to most royal activities, letters, property, etc. Here it should also be noted that the word surre is frequently spelled (not entirely correctly) as su ¨rre. The Haremeyn is used for the two holy places of Islam, i.e. Mecca and Medina. The title Hadim ul ˆ ¨ Haremeyn [Servant or Servitor of the Haremeyn] goes back to the Ottoman sultan Yavuz Selim [Selim the Grim] (1467–1520) who was once addressed by a preacher as Master of the Haremeyn and immediately responded by calling himself ‘Hadim ul Haremeyn’. ˆ ¨ Celebi Sultan Mehmed reigned in the then Ottoman capital of Bursa during AD 1413–21. Other ¸ sources claim that it was the Sultan Yıldırım Bayazıt (reigned AD 1389–1403) who was the first Ottoman ruler to send the surre, or purse of 80,000 gold coins, from Edirne [Adrianople] to Mecca and Medina. N.R. Farooqi, Mughal–Ottoman Relations (a study of political & diplomatic relations between Mughal India and the Ottoman empire, 1556–1748), (Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Dilli, 1989), pp.107– 43. Mahmil (often written as Mahmel or Mahmal) is used for a palanquin or camel litter. Traditionally, a camel with a decorated litter was often sent to Mecca around the Hajj season by the head of a Muslim state to indicate his assumption of rule. The mahmil was therefore a symbol both of the sovereignty and legitimacy of the ruler. For the Ottoman surre procession, the mahmil was also used as a term for the vehicles or camel litters containing the surre and presents sent by the sultan. Munir Atalar, Osmanlı Devletinde Surre- i Hu¨maˆyuˆn ve Surre Alayları [The Royal Purse and Purse ¨ Processions in the Ottoman State], (Ankara: Diyanet Is¸ leri Bas¸ kanlıgı Yayınları, 1991), 377 pp. ˘ Ignatius Mouradgea D’Ohsson (1740–1807), referred to occasionally as Muradcan Tosunyan, was of Armenian origin and served for many years as a diplomat in the Swedish Embassy in Istanbul. Mouradgea D’Ohsson, Tableau Ge´ne´ral de l’Empire Othoman, (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1788–1824), 7 volumes. It has not been possible to access this reference. In order, the 12 months of the lunar Muslim calendar (in modern Turkish orthography) are as follows: Muharrem, Safer, Rebiulevvel, Rebiulahir, Cemaziulevvel, Cemaziulahir, Recep, Saban, Ramazan, ¸ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ Sevval, Zilkade and Zilhicce. Of these, Muharrem, Safer, Recep, Saban and Ramazan are often used ¸ ¸ as names for male children born in these months. ˆbe Called the kiswah [Ka kisvesi or Setre-i serif in Turkish], this gold-embroidered black silk curtain or ¸ covering of the Ka’ba has an interesting history over the centuries. Otherwise famous as the Blue Mosque, because of the exquisite light blue colouring of the tiles that decorate its interior. Mehmed Ali Pasha (1769–1849) as Pasha and Viceroy of Egypt also undertook to send the kiswah during his reign. The Royal Ottoman Secretariat. Atalar gives the names of many sultans, queens and princes whose graves even at this date have coverings made from the Ka’ba covering. See Atalar, p.122 (note 14). Beytullah, or House of Allah, is often used to refer to the Ka’ba. Ays¸ e Osmanoglu, Babam Sultan Abdu ˘ ¨lhamid (Hatıralar) [My father, the Sultan Abdulhamid ¨ (Memoirs)] (Istanbul: Selcuk Yayınları, 1984), pp.67–8. ¸ One of four important annual Muslim religious festivals in Turkey apart from the main feasts of ‘Id al Fitr [Seker Bayramı in Turkish]at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the ‘Id al Adha ¸ [Kurban Bayramı in Turkish]which is the feast commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham. The Berat Kandili which heralds the arrival of the fasting month of Ramadan falls on the night of 15 Saban in ¸ the lunar calendar. Literally, Allah is the Greatest. The expression forms part of the call to prayer and is also used as a pious exclamation. The Trustee of the Surre, or the Keeper of the Royal Purse. This was a privileged position, and among many illustrious holders was Ahmed Pasha of Manastır, father of Enver Pasha who became the Ottoman War Minister during the First World War.

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ˆm 28. A corruption of the word ‘akka meaning a camel driver, but also used for the ushers or drummers taking part in the surre ceremony. ¨ 29. A short distance across the Bosphorus, from the Dolmabahce palace (in Europe) to Uskudar (Scutari) ¸ ¨ on the Asian shore. 30. Ayrılık Ces¸ mesi (literally, the fountain of parting) was one of the main points (within the district of ¸ ¨ Uskudar, not far from the Haydarpas¸ a railway terminus) where friendly goodbyes were waved to the ¨ departing caravans that left Istanbul for the depths of Asia. Another such point was the nearby mosque of Ibrahim Aga, built in AD 1580. ˘ 31. The Trustee of the Hajj pilgrimage. 32. The construction of the Hijaz Railway began on orders of the Sultan Abdulhamid in May 1900 and ¨ the line reached Medina in 1908. For more details, see S.T. Wasti, ‘Muhammad Inshaullah and the Hijaz Railway’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.34, No.2 (1998), pp.60–72. 33. Militant followers of Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab (died 1792) temporarily occupied Mecca and Medina between 1801 and 1804. 34. Mustafa IV reigned for 14 months between 1807 and 1808. 35. The first quatrain of the poem composed by As¸ ık Necati reads:
The House of God we wished to see Near the Black Stone we asked to be To stand on plain of Arafat But Fortune did not grant us that.

36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

42. 43.

44. 45. 46.

47.

48. 49. 50. 51.

Beytullah, or the house of God, is commonly used for the Ka’ba, in one corner of which the hajarul aswad or Black Stone is encrusted like a jewel. The plain of Arafat is where pilgrims congregate as part of the Hajj ceremony. A location just outside Mecca. One of the four festivals referred to in Note 20, the Mevlid Kandili celebrates the birthday of the Prophet of Islam and falls on 12 Rebiul evvel. ¨ S. Faroqhi, Pilgrims and Sultans (The Hajj under the Ottomans, 1517–1683) (London: I.B. Tauris,1994), pp.54–5. Atalar, p.245. The expression literally means the Bedouin purse. Faroqhi, p.7. Ercument Ekrem Talu (1888–1956), a poet, novelist, critic, professor, diplomat and all-round man of ¨ letters. He was the son of Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem (1846–1913), also a famous civil servant and writer. See Atalar, pp.103–4. The well of Zamzam is located in Mecca, only a few metres east of the Ka’ba. The well, which is 35 metres deep and in continuous use, is also known as the well of Ismael, a son of the prophet Abraham. It has been suggested that the name is onomatopoeic, to imitate the sound of bubbling water. See note 26. Sultan Mehmed Res¸ ad (1844–1918), a mild and pious ruler who was the second last Ottoman sultan. Halid Ziya Us¸ aklıgil (1866–1945), man of letters and civil servant, belonged to a well-known Turkish family. His novels, which are still in print, include Askı Memnu’ [Forbidden Love] and Ma’i ve Siyah ¸ [Blue and Black]. His recollections of life at the Ottoman court were collected as one volume of his ¨ autobiographical reminiscences under the title Saray ve Otesi [The Palace and Beyond] (Istanbul: Inkılap ve Aka Kitabevleri Koll. Sirketi, 1981), 432 pp. For further information see S.T. Wasti, ‘The ¸ Last Chroniclers of the Mabeyn’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.32, No.2 (1996), pp.1–29. The date of the Hajj is the 10th of the month of Zil Hicce, which is the last month of the Islamic calendar. As this calendar is lunar resulting in a year of about 354 days, the Hajj feast moves through the seasons, returning to any stated time period roughly once every 33 years. Here Us¸ aklıgil mischievously recalls that in those days, women who wore much jewellery and gaudy make-up were often referred to as ‘surre camels’. See Atalar, p.244. See S.T. Wasti, ‘The Defence of Medina, 1916–19’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.27, No.4 (1991), pp.642–53. Sultan Mehmed Vahideddin (1861–1926) (1991), last Ottoman sultan, who reigned as Mehmed VI between 1918 and 1922. He died in exile in San Remo, Italy and lies buried in Damascus.

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