What is culture?
Culture comes from the Latin cultura.  It means to cultivate.  To cultivate means “to prepare and work on (land) in order to raise crops”.  When the concept of culture first emerged in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it connoted a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture.  In the nineteenth century, it began to be used for the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education.

Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, acquired by a group of people in the course of generations.  Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a large group of people.  Culture is communication, communication is culture.  Culture is cultivated behavior; that what a person learned, accumulated, experienced through social learning.  A culture is a way of life.

Looking from the perspective of culture
Culture is very important concept in history.  Cultural history is different from political history.  Cultural history is more comprehensive or inclusive.  It includes a wide range of topics such as slaves, women, trade, music, festivals etc.  Ottoman periodization: growth, rise, stagnation, decline and demise.  What is main parameter in this categorization?

Ottoman culture
Preparation of a specific website on Ottoman culture.  What are the main titles?
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Major topics of ottoman culture
Festivals and ceremonies  Public baths  mesires  Clothing  Food culture  Home design  Way of thinking

The end of ottoman culture and tradition
The Ottoman empire lasted until the twentieth century.  While historians like to talk about empires in terms of growth and decline,  The real end to the Ottoman culture came with the secularization of Turkey after World War II along European models of government.  The transition to a secular state was not an easy process.  Secularization represents the real break with the Ottoman tradition and heritage.


Religous identity
There was no municipal law in the Ottoman towns.  Religious identity was very important.  Ottomans defined themselves on the basis of religion.  Imams in neigborhood, tax collecting  Millet system  Lifestyle  clothing
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Urban identity
At the same time, there was a powerful urban identity.  What do you understand from “urban identity”?  Settlement to a city requires a special permission, especially for Istanbul.  Kefalet system for settlement to a new neigborhood.  Tax collecting was based on neighborhood.  Guild system was organized in the towns.  Matrakçı Nasuh depicted different cities with different characters in his miniatures.

Matrakçi Nasuh
He was a 16th century Ottoman mathematician, teacher, historian, geographer, cartographer, swordmaster, and miniaturist of Bosnian origin.  He was educated and taught at Enderun School.  He is very famous with his miniatures.  He created a naturalist style which focuses on panoramic views of landscapes and cities painted with the greatest detail.  His most famous work is the Istanbul landscape picture, shows almost every street and building of the city.
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-Matrakçı Nasuh'un İnönü - Bozüyük Minyatürü (1533 - 1536) Beyan'ı Menazil'i Sefer'i Irkeyn'i Sultan Süleyman Han











Basic Characteristics of Ottoman Quarters/neigborhoods
The neighborhood or mahalle was the basis of the urban fabric of the residential areas of the city.  Ottoman cities were divided as quarters  Mosques, churches or synagogues constituted the basis of a neighborhood and remained significant institutions in neighborhood life  There were different quarters in terms of size from five families to a hundred families.  Blind passageways  Division of labor and living areas  Solidarity  Narrow streets
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Markets as an integrating factor
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The local market was an important a part of urban life. There were small shops in the Ottoman quarters. There was a division of labor and living areas. But daily needs necessitated the existence of some shops inside the neighborhood. These shops were especially important for women, because women rarely went to the shops at the center of the city. The shopping was a good excuse for Ottoman women. Anaother excuses were as going to the bath and visiting the relatives. Ottoman women were not totaly free for going out from the house. However, while women’s going to bath was never totally forbidden but shopping by women often became the target of authorities.

A prohibition about women’s shopping

“Haslar ve tevabiinde vaki mahalatta sakin ehl-i İslamdan bazıları mahallelerinde olan cevami ve mesacide varmayıp taklil-i cemaata bais oldukları istima olunmakla imdi mahallatta sakin cemaat-ı müslimin cevami ve mesacide müdavemet ve vukat-ı hamsede eda-i salat-ı mefrüzeye muvazebet edip hatunlarına bed renk ferace giy­dirmeyip peçe ile vecihlerin dahi gereği gibi setr ve başların eğri bağlamayıp adet-i kadim üzere bağlatıp çarşı ve pazarda eğer müslim ve eğer kefere ve Yahudî dükkanlarında bey ve şira bahanesiyle oturtup meks etmelerine ruhsat vermeyip men’ olunmak üzere mahallat imamları ve esnaf kethüdaları getürtüp muhkem tenbîh ve tekîd ve dekakîn ashabına işae eyleyesiz. Emri maruf ve nehyi anilmünker vacibat-ı diniyyeden olmakla şöyleki hafiyyeten tecesüs olunur, hılafina hareket edenler ahz olundukta mahkem haklarından gelinmek mukarrerdir. Ana göre habir ve agah ve mazmun-i münîfin tefhim eyleyesiz

Open bazaars
In addition to small local shops, there were open bazaars. İstanbul was popular with its large number of open neighborhood bazaars. Almost every neighborhood has its own local bazaar .  They founded in certain days of the week and called with this name such as Salı pazarı between Galata and Tophane, Çarşamba pazarı in Fethiye and Perşembe pazarı in Karaköy.
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The public bath (hamam) was a complementary unit of spatial organization in Istanbul. There was at least one public bath in a neighborhood in accordance with its population. These baths were built within the structure of mosque complexes. They were serving in certain days and hours of the week for men and women. In Istanbul, most of the pubic baths in the market places were çifte hamam. Çifte hamams were designed to serve men and women at the same time but in different places. The door of the men’s bath was near the mosque, the door of women’s bath was mostly on a different side and did not look on the main street.

Woman visit to public bath with her slave


Mesires as one of the outing spaces like festivals had an important place in urban daily life of Istanbul.  As a term, mesire is not synonym with picnic Istanbul context.  In Ottoman sources, mesire was defined as a space [ism-i mekan of seyr], or mesiregah where people ride for amusement and excursion [tenezzüh and teferrüc are defined as acts related to mesire].
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the mesire and the picnic are different in nature.  Mesires were not escaping from noisy and polluted city life to the rural areas.  These were concepts of the modern era, and running away from urban life was supposed to be an act associated with the picnics of today.  Therefore, mesires were not physically separated from urban structure of Istanbul.

According to Evliya Çelebi, Istanbul has many mesires, park-like landscapes, such as as Atmeydanı, Ağa Çayırı in Silivrikapı, Yeni Bahçe in Topkapı, Baruthane in Haliç, Vefa and Fatih Mosque’s around, Beyazid Mosque’s square, and Sülaymaniye, Şehzade and Aya Sofya Mosque’s squares.  As it was seen, these mesires were mostly associated with the most important mosques of Istanbul.  Then, one can easily say that resting and entertaining could be connected with religious activities.
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For example, Eyüp was an important mesiregah as well as being a center of inner pilgrimage.  People from different mahalles of Istanbul had visited Eyüp Sultan’s tomb and mosque and afterwards spread out around the mosque to pass the time.  In modern urban life, it might seem controversial.  In traditional Ottoman society, religiosity and sacredness were not separated from the worldly.
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Kağithane mesiresi