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Ottoman History Writing



Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesinde Bulunan Bazı Kazasker Ruznamçeleri



Europe''s Muslim Capital



Changing Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire: The Early Centuries



Christians, Jews and Muslims in the OttomanEmpire: Lessons for Contemporary Coexistence



Islamızatıon In The Balkans As An Hıstorıographıcal Problem: The Southeast-European Perspectıve



The Guilds Of Jerusalem in Ottoman Period

 
  The Guilds Of Jerusalem in Ottoman Period


The town of Jerusalem under Ottoman rule may be viewed from a
variety of standpoints. There was, obviously, its religious-historical
importance: it was the first direction of prayer prescribed by the
Prophet, and the third holy place after Mecca and Medina (ula qıbleteyn wa thalitha'l-haramayn). This change of status from “first” to
“third’ is indicative of a more general trend that the status of
Jerusalem underwent in the course of later years of Muslim rule:
although no attempt was made to reduce its historical and religious
importance, politically and otherwise it lost much of its former
grandeur. In Mamluk times, for example, Palestine was divided into
two administrative sub-units (niy§ ba), neither of which was Jerusalem.
Although a certain military and political presence of the Mamluk
system was felt there, Jerusalem was then best known as a place of
exile for unruly officers. The Ottoman occupation brought about a
variety of changes in Palestine, one of which was a deliberate
upgrading of Jerusalem; it became equal in status to the towns of
Gaza and Safed, which formerly had ranked higher in administrative
terms. The new rulers undertook a series of actions that were meant
to augment both its political importance and its public image in the
wider Islamic context of the empire. In the years of Suleiman the
Magnificent an impressive wall was built around this town, its water
supply system was reconstructed and effectively operated, old and
dilapidated commercial structures were renovated and reactivated—
in short, it became a vibrant town and demographically the main
urban center of Palestine. 1
Jerusalem remained relevant, among other things, because of the
continuing pilgrimages of Muslim believers to the shrines of the
Temple Mount, as well as the daily readings there of sections of the
Koran, with prayers to the Almighty for the well-being and success
of the Ottoman sultan and state. Another perspective was the ad1
the guilds of jerusalem 11
ministrative one: Jerusalem was the official place of residence of a
district governor, a judge and several other high-ranking officers who
were regularly sent from Istanbul in order to conduct the affairs of
the entire district, reaching out to and occasionally involving the
neighboring sancaks as well. The plethora of official documents sent
from Istanbul to Jerusalem and preserved in the archives of both cities
manifest the central government’s paramount interest in the religious,
as well as the administrative, aspects of its rule.
Decrees to Jerusalem were routinely addressed to the provincial
rulers and religious leaders, as well as to other functionaries in Jerusalem,
who in turn sent their respective reports to the capital. Towards
the end of the often long list of officials and dignitaries to whom
such firmans were sent, one occasionally comes across less distinguished
addressees: Êsh erlerlrÊ. These “work[ ing] people” (also: “clever workmen”)
of the various professions, to whose attention the Sublime Porte
saw fit to bring major decrees involving, for example, tax collection,
nomination of a new governor or changes in the official exchange
rates of the various coins in circulation, 2 are the focus of this work.
They were definitely less prominent than the members of the ruling
institutions or the religious hierarchy, but must have constituted an
important additional prop on which the entire local society rested.
To highlight and then get to know and understand this rather neglected
side of Ottoman reality, we embarked on our search through
the proceedings of the Shari- i court in the hope of learning about,
then reconstructing, Jerusalem’s guild system.
This part of the general picture is relatively unknown, rather
eclipsed by the more conspicuous segments of the society— be they
the indigenous, local notables and the religious elite, or the members
of the ruling and administrative sector who had arrived from
out of town, and in most cases left it at the end of their term of office.
The attention both of contemporary chronicles and of later historians
was drawn first and foremost to rulers, judges, and their retinue.
More recent research focused on the local notables— the major
families that accumulated wealth and acquired political weight
in the course of the 17th century. Benefitting from the Ottoman
policies of the Köprülüs, whose centralization efforts brought about
the demise of local dynasties in different parts of Syria, a “cohesive


and determined group” of notables emerged in 17th-century Jerusalem.
Well entrenched and enjoying the support of the population,
they found themselves increasingly exposed to harsh and violent
policies of short-term governors sent from Istanbul. The revolt of
1703, led by Naqib al-Ashraf and supported by the local population,
was a manifestation of the gravity of the existing internal cleavage,
and when finally defeated by the newly arrived governor, a devastating
blow was dealt to the political and social importance of the
local notables of Jerusalem. 3
While Jerusalem was undergoing a long process of recuperation
from these events, new developments occurred in Palestine: new
political and administrative realities were emerging in its northern
parts. Daher al-#Umar, the head of a local family, gradually imposed
himself as the ruler of Acre and most of the country, followed in 1775
by a Bosniac officer, Jezzar Ahmet Pasha. Although Jerusalem rejected
all French attempts to have a consular agent appointed, 4 the
port of Acre— captured by the former and fortified by the latter—
opened up widely to European trade and enjoyed the profits and
many other changes it brought about. In the course of the 18th
century it became the largest town in Palestine, its commercial links
with France surpassing those of Sidon, formerly (and still formally)
higher in administrative rank, while Jerusalem (and its port of Jaffa)
lagged far behind demographically, economically and militarily. 5
Because the political and military ramifications of these developments
captured the attention of contemporary Ottoman politicians as well
as European generals, most public attention was directed to Acre
and away from Jerusalem. However, the opening up of central and
provincial archives enables the historian to try to do justice to the
non-political members of the local societies, shedding light on aspects
of life barely discussed in earlier years. As we proceed in describing
the different professions in Jerusalem, we shall come across
some references to the “big” events involving famous individuals and
to the generally important trends. Most of our attention, however,
will focus on the historically “silent majority”, specifically on the
the guilds of jerusalem 13
missing third element referred to above— that of the professional
guilds.
In Ottoman Jerusalem there were some 70 different professions,
organized in about 60 guilds (taifa / tawaif / sinif / asnaf / hirfa / hiraf ).
Although in a few cases (as will be seen below) certain internal relations
existed, close personal ties sometimes even developed between
guilds, and these generally prevailed for the entire period of the 16th18th
centuries. Each guild was an entity in itself, very keen on preserving
its independence and particularity. However, seen from our
modern vantage point and for the sake of a better appreciation of
the range of their activities, one may group them under several
common headings.
Food production and processing were by far the most prevalent
professions, and they can be divided into sub-categories: meat and
other animal derivatives (qassab , lahham , sallakh , dhabbağ , dabbagh
qirabi, saramiji , bawabiji qawwafi, iskafi); grain(tahhan, khabbaz, mughgharbil,
ka'kani, kayyal, hammal, allaf, tarraş (?)) ; oil (a'sarani , sayraji,
zayyat, sabban, attal); candies (halawani, qaãta'ifi); vegetables (khudari);
drinks (qahwaji, saqqa); metalworkers (sa'ig, haddad, nahhas,mubayyid, sakakini, suyufi);
garment workers (ha'ik, sha'ar, qattan, abawi, khayyat, sabbagh, qassar, gazzaz);
woodworkers (najjar); stonemasons
(haccar, bahha); potters (fawakhiri); candlemakers (shamma); bookbinders
and sellers (mujallidi’l-kutub, ba'i'i’l-kutub); entertainers (muzayyina,
muhtar); tourist industry (dalil, bai, masabih); public works (zabbal,
tarrab, makkari); public welfare (hallaq, hammami, tabib, jarrah baytari,
mughassil al-amwat, haffar, hammal al mawtai); merchants (dallal, samman,
baqqal, tajir, såqi, attar). In the course of this work these will all be
dealt with separately, although in a somewhat different order than
just presented.


Cohen, Amnon. Guilds of Ottoman Jerusalem.
Leiden, , NLD: Brill, N.H.E.J., N.V. Koninklijke, Boekhandel en Drukkerij, 2001. p 10-13.



1. See my Economic Life in Ottoman Jerusalem (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 110;
“The
Walls of Jerusalem” in C. E. Bosworth, Ch. Issawi, R. Savory & A. L. Udovitch
(eds.), The Islamic World (Princeton, 1989), pp. 467479;
M. Rosen-Ayalon, “Suleiman’s
Sabils in Jerusalem” op cit., pp. 589607.
See also: A. Cohen & B. Lewis, Population
and Revenue in the Towns of Palestine in the Sixteenth Century (Princeton, 1978), pp. 914,
81104.
2 Jerusalem sijill (henceforth: JS), vol. 214, p. 265; vol. 243, p. 77; vol. 285, p.
80; vol. 287, pp. 445;
vol. 309, p. 68.
3 See D. Ze" evi, An Ottoman Century: The District of Jerusalem in the 1600s (New
York, 1996), pp. 6385.
4 Archives de la Chambre de Commerce de Marseille (henceforth: ACCM),
lettres des consuls, Jerusalem, dated 16991702.
5 See my Palestine in the 18th Century: Patterns of Government and Administration
(Jerusalem, 1973), pp. 311328.






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