PEEPS AT MANY LANDS
BY JULIUS R. VAN MILLINGEN
WITH TWELVE FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
BY WARWICK GOBLE
ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
THE BRIDGE FROM GALATA TO STAMBOUL.
|I.||GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY||5|
|II.||ALBANIANS, POMAKS, TARTARS, AND BULGARIANS||11|
|III.||CIRCASSIANS, LAZES, AND KURDS||22|
|V.||GREEKS AND VLACHS||36|
|VIII.||SYRIANS, DRUSES, MARONITES, AND BEDOUINS||57|
|X.||THE FAITH OF ISLAM||72|
|XIII.||THE GALATA BRIDGE AND THE BAZAARS||90|
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
|THE BRIDGE FROM GALATA TO STAMBOUL||Frontispiece|
|ROUMELI HISSAR (BOSPHORUS)||9|
|A STAMBOUL BEGGAR||25|
|IN THE GRAND BAZAAR||32|
|A SHEKERDJI's SHOP||41|
|A CEMETERY BY THE BOSPHORUS||48|
|A TURKISH LADY IN OUTDOOR DRESS||64|
|INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN AHMED I.||73|
|A HOWLING DERVISH||80|
|A KAFEDJI||On the cover|
|Sketch-Map of Turkey||page iv|
SKETCH-MAP OF TURKEY.
GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY
The Empire of Turkey, through which I propose to conduct you, stretches over portions of Europe and Asia—the slender thread of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles being the division between the two continents. A rapid current rushes through these channels, but in some places they are so narrow that you can shout across from Europe to Asia, and it is no uncommon thing to hear the dogs barking from the other side.
Turkey in Europe spreads northwards from these points up to Bulgaria, and consists of a long strip of country extending from the Black Sea to the Adriatic.
Turkey in Asia is more extensive, and stretches from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf. Persia lies to its east, and the Red Sea and blue Mediterranean to its west.
Turkey holds sway over some of earth's fairest lands, the homes of its most ancient civilizations and lands familiar to us through Holy Writ and profane history, and the sources of Jewish, Christian, Moslem, and other beliefs.
The rulers of Turkey are the Turks, originally a nomadic tribe from Central Asia. Compelled to abandon their homes on account of the desiccation or drying up of large tracts of their country, which were converted into a desert, they swarmed into Armenia and Persia in quest of new pasture-lands for their flocks and cattle. Like the in-coming tide, they swept everything before them, and finally overwhelmed, not only Asia Minor, but also Egypt and Northern Africa.
Converted at an early stage of their history to the Mahomedan faith, they propagated it wherever they went, and, under the leadership of the Sultans of the Seljuk dynasty, they established themselves in Konia, and advanced their rule to the gates of the Byzantine Empire. But it was reserved for a kindred tribe under Ertogrul to be the successors of the Seljuks and establish the Ottoman dynasty which still holds sway over Turkey.
The events leading up to it were as follows: Ertogrul, with a band of 400 followers, was wandering about Asia Minor, and accidentally came across a conflicting Mongolian and Seljuk army in the neighbourhood of Angora. He dashed into the fray in support of the latter, and changed impending defeat into a brilliant victory. In reward for this timely assistance the Seljuk Sultan awarded to Ertogrul the district of Anatolia, which bounded the Greek or Byzantine Empire, the capital of which Empire was then Constantinople.
During the summer the new-comers drove their flocks to the mountains, and during the winter they withdrew them to the plains, but, growing bolder and more powerful, Ertogrul waged war against the Greeks. Success followed upon success, until at last, in 1326, under the leadership of Othman, the son of Ertogrul, Nicea, noted for its Council which drew up the Nicean Creed, fell to the sword of the Moslem. Brusa also was taken, and there Othman enthroned himself as Sultan of the dynasty thenceforth known as the Ottoman.
Before proceeding further it might be interesting to relate an incident which pictures the primitive character and frugality of the founders of this dynasty. When the mighty Othman died, the only possessions he left behind were a salt-bowl, the symbol of hospitality, a spoon, his sword and standards, his cloak and white turban, a pair of horses, a yoke of oxen, and his flock of sheep. His sword is still preserved in Constantinople, and each successive Sultan is invested with it on his coronation. The descendants of his flock of sheep are still the heritage of the reigning Sultan, and still browse on the ranges of Bithynian Olympus, and supply butter and cheeses for the royal household.
The victories of the Ottoman Turks were followed by the incorporation of the Seljuks, and drew into their ranks crowds of recruits thirsting for blood and plunder. The Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus were ravaged with sword and fire, and shortly afterward (in 1453) Constantinople was invested and stormed, and the last of the Byzantine Emperors slain.
Driving everything before them, the victorious Turks marched northwards into Europe, devastating, burning, plundering, slaying, and making captives of women and children, until at last they reached the walls of Vienna, and at one moment it looked as if all Europe would fall to their sway.
But this was the limit of their Northern conquests, and, like the tide which recedes after it has reached its fulness, so this assault on Vienna and its repulse marks the high tide and first ebb of Turkey's greatness.
One by one they lost their possessions in Europe, such as Hungary, Roumania, Greece, Servia, and Bulgaria, and now only a comparatively small strip of country remains to them in Europe. In Asia also large tracts of country have been wrenched from Turkey by Russia; and in Africa, Egypt and Tunis are Turkish only in name.
The splendid conquests of the Turks were due to the hardihood of a race brought up in frugality and nomadic pursuits. Their strength and courage were amazing, and their religious zeal made them reckless of their lives. Their early Sultans, too, were men of extraordinary energy and sagacity, and were the first among the Turks to organize regular soldiers. A famous corps was that of the Janissaries, who were selected from the strongest and most beautiful Christian youth forced away from their parents or captured in battle. Confined all their lives in barracks, and daily drilled in the arts of war, they grew to be as invincible as Cromwell's Ironsides.
But as discipline relaxed they became insubordinate, dethroning Sultans and nominating others, until one day, in 1826, Sultan Mahmoud IV. had them secretly surrounded in their barracks and annihilated. A venerable planetree may yet be seen in the old Palace grounds where the survivors were hanged. Its hollow trunk ultimately served as the shop of a shoemaker.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire was due to the corruption of the Turks that followed acquisition of wealth. They lost their hardihood, and their Sultans became profligate and luxurious. They filled their harems with wives and numberless slaves, and addicted themselves to pleasure instead of duty. They became tyrants, and their jealousies and fears of being supplanted made them so cruel that it became customary for a Sultan ascending the throne to kill all his brothers or near male relatives. This was usually done by strangling them with a bow-string, or sewing them in bags and drowning them in the Bosphorus, as one would an undesirable litter of puppies.
Recent Sultans, it is true, have not dared to commit such deeds openly in the face of growing public opinion, but, with few exceptions, they have been equally selfish and corrupt. Indeed, in the reign of the recent ex-Sultan Abdul Hamid, rightly styled "the Great Assassin" by Mr. Gladstone, corruption and villainy reached unheard-of enormity. He planned and carried out wholesale massacres against his Armenian subjects, and spirited away thousands of innocent Mussulmans and Christians at the instigation of the army of spies whom he employed, and who enriched themselves with the bribes he offered.
At last matters reached such a pitch that life in Turkey became unbearable, and in sheer desperation he was dethroned in 1908 by his army, led by patriotic officers who styled themselves Young Turks.
In his stead they appointed his brother, Murad V., to be Sultan, and proclaimed a Constitution; that is, a form of Government like our own, with a Parliament consisting of representatives of the people.
Turkey is now doing its best to reform itself, and we wish it all success, but naturally, after so many years of misrule and corruption, it will take time before the Turks can set their house in proper order.
For now more than twenty years Turkey has been connected with Western Europe by rail, trains starting from Vienna and crossing the Danube at Belgrade. Shortly after, the main line branches off and one portion proceeds through Bulgaria to Constantinople, while the other terminates at Salonica. The journey from London to Constantinople occupies three and a half days, but may be accelerated.
There is no railway bridge over the Bosphorus, but a railway line, of recent construction, runs from its Asiatic entrance into Asia Minor as far as Konia, the Iconium of Scripture. This line is now being extended to reach Bagdad in Mesopotamia, and will be prolonged thence to the Persian Gulf, and doubtless, ultimately, to India, and will perhaps enable us to visit our friends there within a week's journey from London.
Another railway crosses the Lebanon mountains from Beyrout, and proceeds to Damascus, and thence extends, keeping to the east of the Jordan, to Mecca, in Arabia, the Holy City of the Moslems. This line is called the Sacred or Pilgrim railway, because it conveys large numbers of pilgrims to their shrine. It was built nearly entirely out of the contributions of the faithful, both in money and in free labour.
ALBANIANS, POMAKS, TARTARS, AND BULGARIANS
Having briefly narrated the history of the rise and decline of the Ottoman Empire, it may be interesting to have a peep at the various races and nationalities which at present constitute it.
Beginning with Turkey in Europe, we have the Albanians, who occupy the mountainous country north of Greece, and also Albania and Epirus on the eastern shore of the Adriatic. They are a brave, haughty, liberty-loving, but turbulent people, whom some maintain to be the descendants of the ancient Pelasgi, who originally occupied Greece. They boast of having given Alexander the Great to the world. The Albanians were never properly conquered by the Turks, and, excepting those inhabiting the lowlands, they do very much what they please, and even at this moment they are defying the Turkish troops sent to disarm them, and bring them under subjection. Some are Mahomedans, others are Roman Catholics, and others belong to the Greek Church. They have a language of their own, but until quite recently they had no alphabet for it, and it was only within the last forty years that a Scotsman, the agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, endowed them with one, and printed the Scriptures in their tongue. It is this alphabet that the Turks are now trying to suppress by substituting the Arabic, and the Albanians are fighting to maintain. The national dress of the Albanians is a white kilted petticoat coming down to their knees, with a scarlet or purple embroidered vest, and a corresponding sleeveless jacket worn over a white shirt with wide sleeves. The waist is girded with a broad silken band folded many times round the body. Embroidered leggings, corresponding in colour with the jacket, protect the legs, and a red cap, called a fez, with a silken blue tassel, covers the head.
So attached are they to their national costume that an attempt made by Sultan Mahmoud to forbid it led to an insurrection in the same way that the edict in 1747 to do away with the kilts and tartans in the Scottish Highlands created the troubles which followed the rebellion. Naturally, the peasants cannot afford costly material, and their dress consists of a closely-woven, home-spun tweed called shayiak, which is very warm and enduring. They wear a skull-cap of the same material, shayiak knickers and leggings, and sandals instead of shoes. Over this girdle they wear a broad cartridge-belt, which bristles with old-fashioned pistols and formidable daggers.
The Albanians are a nation of clans, implacable in their hatred and constant in their friendships. Their covenant of friendship is cemented by tasting a drop of each other's blood, and from that moment they consider themselves blood kinsmen, and sworn to befriend, defend, or avenge each other.
Like the Israelites of old, the blood avenger pursues the murderer of his friend or clansman until he finds him, and if he should fail to do so during his lifetime, his children are bound to act on his behalf. You can thus understand that in accordance with this law of "vendetta," as they call it, whole families become sometimes exterminated.
Another peculiar method of establishing friendships is by securing the assent of an influential person to stand as godfather to children at baptism. It involves no spiritual obligations, as may be seen from the fact that these godfathers are frequently Mussulmans, but is recognized as a social rite whereby the two families become relations. Albania being a poor country, a large number of its Moslem population join the Turkish army as soldiers or officers, this vocation being congenial with their tastes. Others go to Constantinople or other large towns, and engage in an occupation very different from that of warriors—namely, that of manufacturing and selling cakes, called simits, and an Albanian speciality of confection called halva. It resembles nougat, and is prepared with walnuts or sesame seeds. These commodities are temptingly arranged on large circular trays, which they poise very adroitly on their heads by means of a small cushion resembling a quoit. You will see, under the heading of "Simitji," a picture of this kind of tray, and the tripod upon which it is rested. The seller in the picture is not, however, an Albanian, but a Turk from Anatolia.
These halvagis, as they are called, are great favourites of boys and girls, and of grown-up persons too, and are to be met with at every gathering of people. Albanians also go out as vegetable-gardeners and fruit-sellers, and deal in the remarkably beautiful apple which grows so splendidly in their native country.
The Turks call the Albanians Arnaouts, and many a village occupied by them has in consequence been named Arnaoutkioy, the village of the Albanian.
Another occupation in which they engage is that of shepherds, and among some of this craft I may mention those of the Sultan's flock of sheep on Mount Olympus, to which I have already alluded. They keep huge fierce dogs, which are a terror not only to wolves and bears, but also to human beings whom they may encounter. So daring and powerful are shepherd-dogs of this description that they have been known to tear riders down from the saddle. The writer might once have undergone this fate were it not for the powerful dog-whip which he carried on the occasion of an attack, and to the fact that his horse finally bolted with him until he was some miles from the field of danger.
To shoot one of these dogs is at the peril of your life, for the Albanian law of vendetta seems to extend to avenging their dogs. There is a strong suspicion that an Englishman, who made the ascent of Olympus some twenty years ago, was murdered by these shepherds for shooting one of these creatures in self-defence. On another occasion the captain of one of our ironclads, while shooting in that neighbourhood, had occasion to kill a dog which attacked him, whereupon he was himself felled to the ground by the axe of the shepherd.
Turkish shepherd-dogs, though savage and powerful, have none of the finer instincts of our collies; they will not bring round the sheep in accordance with the shepherd's directions; they are only fighters, and often turn and rend their masters.
It is interesting to watch, as I have done, the yearly migrations of the Albanian shepherds to and from Olympus. My home lay at the foot of the mountain, and one summer's night, when the moon was full, I was waked by the sound of sonorous voices, and the barking of dogs, and bleating of rams. Gradually the sounds became louder, and I could hear the tinkling of bells and finally the tramp of thousands of little feet pattering past my door. To the bleating of the rams was added the shriller cry of the ewes and the feebler notes of the lambs, and, rushing to the window, I could see the whole procession—sheep and shepherd—winding its way upwards. It was a weird sight, those shepherds in their heavy capotes of sheepskin, and their shadows reflected on the mountain, and gave one the impression of so many spectres gliding in the moonlight. The procession passed along, the bleating, the tinkling, the barking, the shouting became fainter, and finally the mountain returned to its silence primeval, and when I awoke in the morning I could not help wondering if it had not all been a dream.
Bordering on Albania and Epirus, and east of them, you will find a district marked on the map as Macedonia. It is inhabited principally by Tartars, Bulgarians, and Greeks, with a large sprinkling of Jews in its seaport towns, specially in Salonica, the Thessalonica of Scripture. The Bulgarians belong to the Slav family, and are mostly Christians. Some, however, have turned Moslems, and are generally known under the name of Pomaks. The Pomaks have intermarried and fused with Tartars, who migrated to Macedonia, as well as to other parts of Turkey, in large numbers when their native lands—the Crimea, Bessarabia, Roumania, and Bulgaria—passed under the sovereignty of Christian rulers. They have high cheekbones, broad flat faces, globular noses, and sunken eyes. They are fanatical, ignorant, and naturally embittered against Christians, and many, as the authors of the so-called Bulgarian atrocities, have fled to escape the punishment they deserved.
During the time of the Russo-Turkish War in 1879, I remember witnessing the wholesale flight of thousands of them to Constantinople. Many arrived in ox-drawn waggons laden with their families, their goods and chattels, and driving before them their cattle, which they disposed of for a mere song in the market. Others were conveyed in railway-trucks, packed close like sheep in a pen, and seemed as bewildered. A peculiar sight was a truck-load of children packed among sacks and bedding, from which they emerged on the arrival of the train, like ants issuing from an ant-hill. The city swarmed with these immigrants, the courts of the mosques were converted into refuge houses, and the utmost misery prevailed until Government had quartered them in different villages in Asiatic Turkey. There they still may be found, and their location recognized by their wretched wooden shanties and their squalor. But in many cases change of environment has not occasioned change of disposition, and I am assured that during the time of the Armenian massacres (1896) Pomaks quartered in Brusa sharpened their knives and armed themselves to a man to kill and plunder the Christians, and they were only prevented from carrying out this nefarious deed by the armed interposition of the humane Turkish Governor.
In dress Pomaks differ but little from the ordinary Turk; in habits they are perhaps more industrious, and it may be put down to their credit that they introduced into Constantinople and elsewhere a new and light form of carriage which is now extensively used for picnics and excursions into the country.
In addition to the half-caste Tartars of Macedonia there are the pure Tartars who for several centuries past have inhabited the highlands of Asia Minor, and who are credited with great trustworthiness. This quality, in addition to their capacity for long and rapid riding, has obtained for them the practical monopoly of the postal service in the interior of Turkey, and the word tartar has come to be synonymous with postillion, or mounted postman. There are relays of horses at stated intervals, but the same rider travels over the whole distance. His saddle is capacious, with broad stirrups in the form of an open shoe. The saddle has, moreover, a hump on which the rider can support his arms, and an arrangement for fixing a short rod, with a crescent-shaped top or cushion, on which the rider rests his chin and sleeps during night travelling. Letters and parcels are placed in saddle-bags, which are thrown astride the saddle in the same way as paniers are with us. They are made of leather, of carpet, or camel's-hair, and the opening is closed through a series of loops running into each other. There is usually great excitement at the arrival of the Tartar, and the letters, where no post office exists, are strewn on the floor of a room of the conak, or Governor's house, and applicants asked to pick out any addressed to them.
Money is also conveyed from province to province by these Tartars, when, if the amount is large, several horses are strung together, and are escorted by mounted police. The currency in the interior being silver coins of the size of our five-shilling pieces, the jolting and friction occasioned by the drive are likely to tear ordinary bags, so the latter are enclosed in a special rope-bag, which is neatly and compactly knitted over them. Gold coin is put up in leather, which is puckered up to form a bag, and tied and sealed on the top.
The Christian Bulgarians of Macedonia, having been brought up more or less under servitude, are of a much meeker character than the Pomaks, but, judging from the strides which have been made by the other Bulgarian races in Turkey since their independence from Turkish rule, we may infer that their Macedonian brethren are also capable of great development. On the whole they are poor, and live in thatched hovels, plastered both within and without with a mixture of clay, cow-dung, and straw. The interior is divided into three rooms—a public room, a family bedroom, and one for keeping provisions. The floor is of clay, beaten hard, and is covered with coarse rugs and cushions large enough to serve as beds. A small oil-lamp burns in a corner under the icon, or picture, of some grim patron saint. Outside the house is an oven, resembling an ant-hill, and accommodation for hens, pigs, and cattle, and the whole is enclosed with a wall and guarded by dogs.
The Bulgarians are frugal in their habits, and live principally on beans seasoned with vinegar and red pepper, and they have a great partiality for garlic. Their principal occupation is agriculture and sheep-farming.
The men's dress somewhat resembles the Albanian, but their vests and jackets are generally made from sheepskins, with the wool turned inwards, and they wear on their heads the calpak, or low cap, made from black lamb-skins, with the wool turned outwards. This calpak is as much the national characteristic of the Bulgarian as the fez is of the Turk. The women's dress is pleasing—green and red being very conspicuous—and when in gala dress their persons are weighted down with ponderous silver ornaments worn on the head, round the neck, waist, and wrists.
Their national music is the bagpipe, but the music is very primitive, and does not soar to the heights of the pibrochs of Scotland, and their dance is heavy and uncouth, and apparently modelled from the bear. Indeed, in one of these dances the principal dancer puts on a real bearskin, and, led about by a young girl, performs all sorts of antics, much to the enjoyment of the spectators, who at the close of the performance all join in hooting and pursuing the dancer.
Formerly large bands of Bulgarian dancers used to come to Constantinople during the Easter festivities, and march through the streets with inflated bagpipes, or resort to the field of sports. Their bear-dance ended, they would fling their caps heavily to the ground, then pick them up, and walk round with them to the crowd for the collection of coppers.
But the Bulgar is no longer popular, either with the Turk or the Greek, and they now seldom grace the festivals in the capital with their presence and their antics.
The Greek population of Macedonia is not large, but is inimical to the Bulgarian, both from feeling of racial antipathy and from religious discord. Both, it is true, belong to what is called the Greek or Orthodox Church, but a few years ago a dispute arose regarding the language in which services should be conducted in Bulgarian churches. The Patriarch and heads of the Greek Church insisted that it should be Greek, whereas the Bulgarians, who do not understand Greek, claimed that it should be Bulgarian, the language of the people. The dispute led to a disruption, and now the Bulgarian Church is governed by a Bulgarian Exarch, and the priests and language are Bulgarian, but the Greek Church considers them schismatics, and will have no ecclesiastical dealings with them.
Further reference to Greeks will be made in Chapter V.
CIRCASSIANS, LAZES, AND KURDS
Passing over to Asia Minor, we come across groups of a very interesting race called the Circassian.
Inhabiting originally the belt of lofty mountains which run from the Black Sea to the Caspian, they were conquered in 1864 by the Russians, after nearly a century of resistance, and no less than half a million were expelled, and received hospitality in Turkey.
This welcome was extended, not only because the exiles were Moslems, but also because that country, remarkable for the beauty of its women, had hitherto supplied the Turkish slave-market with wives for the Palace and the Grandees. The vendors were their own fathers or guardians, who by this method secured, not only a substantial profit for themselves, but also provided comfortable homes and even royalty for their daughters.
With so much Circassian blood in their veins, it was natural that the Turks should show themselves sympathetic toward these poor fugitives, and find settlements for them in various parts of their dominion. Moreover, in doing so they kept up the market for wives; for although slavery is officially abolished in Turkey, there is still an underhand commerce with the Circassian colonists for the disposal of their daughters as aforesaid. However revolting this transaction may appear to us, it is consistent with the customs prevalent in Circassia itself, where a suitor is expected to buy his intended from her father. But there, at least, he must further arrange to run away with her, an undertaking which is not so easy if the young lady does not consent.
The characteristics of Circassians are their small and beautifully shaped hands and feet, the grace and agility of their movements, and their clear complexion.
They are temperate in their habits, and frugal, their national meal consisting of millet boiled in mutton fat.
The Circassians are splendid horsemen, but are rather lax about their perception of what is mine or thine; indeed, their Tartar name, tcherkes, implies a "robber." They are entirely uneducated.
The following pretty Circassian custom came under my personal notice. It was an application made by one of their chiefs to my father for intervention on his behalf with Government for the extension of a grant of land. The letter in question was addressed to "Pasta Baba"—i.e., the father of bread—a name by which my father was known through distributing charitable subscriptions raised in Great Britain; it was sent by a special messenger, and was attached to the wings of a snow-white pigeon. A gift of a few geese of spotless purity accompanied it. The petition was duly transmitted to Government, and the request granted.
There is a Turkish saying that the Almighty assigned the sovereignty of the land to the Moslem, but that of the sea to the Giaours, or Infidels.
But among the subject races of Turkey there is one which has distinguished itself for its intrepidity on the water and the fearlessness with which it navigates the Black Sea—a sea well deserving its sinister epithet. The Lazes occupy the eastern and south-eastern shores of the Black Sea, and their sailing-boats and ships do the coasting trade between these regions and Constantinople. Like all mariners of olden days, they cease navigating the seas during the winter, and draw up their lighter boats on the beach, and anchor their heavier ones in harbours. The lighter boats are styled tchektermes, and are from 30 to 50 feet in length, with sharp, beaky prow and stern. They carry a long bowsprit, with one or two jib-sails hoisted from a short mast, placed nearer the bows than the stern. A long boom, attached obliquely to the mast, serves to support an enormous sail, which, when the boat is on the tack, bellies out to such a remarkable extent that it resembles the section of a balloon. Yet notwithstanding this departure from the principles of sailing, tchektermes can run close up to the eye of the wind, and are very swift in their movements. A faint idea of this sort of sail is given in the picture of the lighter in the illustration of "The Bridge from Galata" in the frontispiece.
A STAMBOUL BEGGAR.
The tchektermes are only partially decked, a covered stern and bow serving for cabins for the crew. The undecked sides are heightened by 2 or 3 feet, with a tarred awning, which protects from surf and spray.
The larger ships used by the Lazes are from 200 to 300 tons; they are very quaint, and resemble ancient galleons. There is very little discipline among the crew, and everyone has a say and advice to give to the captain, who is much on the same level as his men.
A large number of Lazes come to Constantinople, and engage in the shipping trade or as stevedores, but others form into guilds for digging and carrying on operations in connection with housebuilding, and are very industrious and hard-working. Their hours of labour often extend during the summer season from five in the morning till eight at night. They, in common with all labourers in the East, are not engaged by time, as with us, but, like those labourers mentioned in Scripture, at a fixed charge for the day.
Another people strongly resembling the Lazes in appearance, but inhabiting the mountainous regions to the south of them, all the way up to and into Persia, are the Kurds, of whom you have probably heard a good deal in connection with the Armenian massacres. Their country is called Kurdistan, and is drained by the tributaries of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Several of its mountains rise to the height of 6,000 to 7,000 feet. Kurds are also to be found in all the hilly districts of Armenia and Mesopotamia. They are a sinewy, dark, well-formed race, with a fierce look which betrays an equally ferocious character. They owe but slight allegiance to the Turkish Empire, and are under the rule of chiefs, more or less independent, who organize robber bands to plunder or blackmail caravans.
They possess remarkably fine horses, which are greatly in demand for the Turkish cavalry. The Kurds themselves are great riders, and with their long javelins, bows, or muskets, are a terror to their neighbours. They are also experts in the use of the sling. During the recent Armenian massacres they were allowed a free hand, and their cruelty and rapacity were such as to defy description. The ex-Sultan, Abdul Hamid, incorporated a number of them into a division of cavalry, commanded by their own officers, which constituted his bodyguard, and he paid them largely, and dressed them handsomely, but since his dethronement they have been disbanded as too insubordinate.
It is the boast of the Kurds that their country gave birth to the great Saladdin, who in the twelfth century fought against our Richard Cœur de Lion in the Holy Land.
Most of the Kurds are migratory in their habits, but others reside in villages, where they sow their fields with seed in spring-time, and then quit them in order to pasture their flocks in the mountains. In autumn they return to their villages, and reap their harvest. Those residing in the plains are of a more peaceful disposition, and exercise much ingenuity and show much taste in the manufacture of carpets. These are entirely of wool, and are of that light description known as kilims, used in this country for portières. Occasionally some of the women working at them weave in locks or tresses of their own hair, which is supposed to add to the value of the carpet. It certainly adds to its quaintness.
A peculiar product of the Kurdish forests is manna, a sweet exudation on the oak-leaf. These leaves are beaten down from the trees, and collected on sheets, and then pressed into lumps and eaten, either in their natural condition, or used as a sweetening ingredient. Manna has a sweet, pleasant taste, and is called by the Kurds the "divine sweetmeat." It is sold in the courts of the mosques in Constantinople during the sacred month of Ramazzan.
Lake Van, on the confines of Kurdistan, is about 70 miles long and 28 miles broad. Its waters are salt, but brackish near the streams, and when evaporated produce a kind of soap used in the country. The lake abounds in a peculiar kind of carp (Cyprinus Tarachi), locally known as Dareg, which is said to exist nowhere else, and which is dried and eaten extensively in the neighbourhood.
Adjoining Kurdistan lies Armenia, but it is difficult to determine where the one begins and the other ends, as during the time of the Armenian troubles the Sultan decreed that no such place as Armenia should exist, and vast stretches of country inhabited by Armenians were officially incorporated in the villayets, or provinces, of Kurdistan and others.
So determined was the Sultan to blot out the name he hated that the censors were ordered to prohibit or deface all books having reference to Armenia, and the writer of these lines had unpleasant experiences at the Custom-house where a number of his books were mutilated; Keith Johnston's book on "Geography," for instance, had ten pages torn out.
But in spite of Imperial edicts, Armenia still exists, and will continue to do so as long as Mount Ararat stands as a monument in the land to proclaim an antiquity claimed to be coeval with Noah.
The traditions of the Deluge are still cherished by the Armenians, who yearly celebrate the exit from the Ark, and symbolize it in their national pudding, called the anoosh aboor, or sweet pudding. This consists of as many varieties of dried fruits as they can collect, which they mix together and stew, in imitation, it is alleged, of Noah, who did the same with the remnants of the provisions he had stored in the Ark. On this occasion they also sprinkle water on each other's faces, to denote the flood, and liberate captive doves and make cakes to represent birds.
Tradition also maintains that it was in Armenia, on the southern slopes of Ararat, still rich in vines and olive-yards, that Noah planted the first vineyard. A withered root of one of the plants is still exhibited to show the result of the Divine malediction on the vine which occasioned his drunkenness.
Armenia has passed through a number of vicissitudes, and frequently changed masters, and, owing to its geographical position, has often been the highway for the passage of opposing armies. It was the first country that officially embraced Christianity, their Sovereign, Tigranes, having been converted at the end of the third century by Gregory the Illuminator, and the Armenian Church has since been called the Gregorian. Armenia fell under the sword of the Moslem powers, and many of its inhabitants were compelled to turn Mahomedans, but as a whole they bravely maintained their faith and worship, notwithstanding persecutions. They have a language and an alphabet of their own, the latter consisting of thirty-eight letters, and expressing so many sounds that it is often used with advantage in writing Turkish also. The language spoken by the people principally is Turkish, while that used in the Church services is Ancient Armenian, which is not understood by the illiterate, but efforts are now made to revive the use of Modern Armenian, and it is being taught in their schools, and spoken more extensively.
Armenia is to-day portioned between Russia, Persia, and Turkey, the latter ruling over the largest share. The population of the Turkish section is probably about 1,000,000, but about as many, if not more, are spread about other portions of the Empire, and Constantinople holds 150,000.
The Armenians are of medium height, but broad-shouldered and of powerful build; their complexion is swarthy, their hair black, and they can grow magnificent beards. Their eyes are black, and their nose aquiline, or eagle-beaked. This latter characteristic is very marked, and can be traced back to the coins of Tigranes, and of their earliest sovereigns. Their habits are indolent, and years of servitude have made them timid, and until quite recently they appeared so infatuated with their masters that their highest ambition seemed to be to ape them. They have been described as "having no high feeling, no emulation, no enthusiasm, no longing for a place among nations, no aspirations after the bright and the beautiful." But now all this has changed—at least with the educated people—and ecclesiastically, as well as socially, they have aspirations for an improvement in their condition. They have great business capacities, and show some aptitude in the arts, especially in weaving and embroidery, but have little initiative. They are naturally devout and kind-hearted, especially to animals, and ill-treatment of the latter is considered as deserving ecclesiastical censure, a case being on record where a priest imposed a fast of twenty years upon a woman for killing her cat.
Villagers and Armenians from the interior are remarkable for their honesty, and have been entrusted for generations with the guardianship of merchants' offices, banks, shops, and the surveillance of public establishments.
Their inducements to faithfulness are strengthened by their conviction that honesty is the best policy, for as a result of their proverbial trustworthiness their functions have come to be regarded as hereditary, and when one servant dies or returns to his family, he is replaced by his son, or brother, or near relative. There is thus solidarity between the members of a family, and even between the citizens of a town, for there are some towns—Mush, for instance—that hold the palm for the integrity of its inhabitants.
An occupation, akin to the previous one, held by Armenians, in common with Turks of Asia Minor, is that of porterage, an institution of the greatest importance, especially in Constantinople, where the narrowness or steepness of the streets often prevents wheeled conveyance.
These porters, known under the name of hamals, carry their burden on their back by means of a leather cushion, which is strapped over their shoulders, and called a semer, or saddle (see illustration, "In the Grand Bazaar," Chapter IV.), and it is extraordinary what weight and bulk they can carry. The object to be carried, if heavy, is lifted by one or two companions, and rested on the semer, while the wearer stoops forward to receive it.
Great care is necessary to poise and balance it properly, as the secret of lifting lies in the correct adjustment—an art which with the hamals seems instinctive. A short rope is then thrown over the burden, and the ends are held by the porter so as to prevent the burden from slipping as he proceeds on his way with heavy but steady steps. Should the road be steep, he will generally find resting-stones, which have been placed at regular intervals, where he can lean his burden without removing it, and obtain a brief repose. The placing of these resting-stones is considered a meritorious act among Moslems, and finds its equivalent in the Rest-and-be-Thankful Stones to be met with in many places in this country, where the weary traveller sits and blesses the donor.
It is an interesting study to watch the muscles of the hamal's legs distend and his veins dilate as, nearly bent in two, he treads leisurely along, groaning under a weight which it would take two ordinary men to carry.
Conveying a piano, for instance, is no unusual occurrence, and on one occasion the writer had coals conveyed to his house, situated on a hill, and about three miles from the ship, at the same price as they would have been conveyed by horses, each hamal carrying half a horseload. A hamal's carrying capacity may therefore be expressed, after this experience, as equal to a half horse-power.
IN THE GRAND BAZAAR.
If the object to be conveyed is a very heavy one, it is suspended on a long pole, and carried between two hamals, the rounded ends of the poles resting on their shoulders, with perhaps a leather pad between to protect the bone.
Should the weight be heavier still, say a large bale of merchandise or a pig of lead, four, six, or eight hamals combine, each pair carrying a separate pole. As they march swinging and staggering along, with their right hand resting on their neighbours' left shoulder, and occupying half the street, they shout Varda! which means "Make room!" and everybody has to clear out and rush to the sidewalk, or run the risk of being thrown over.
Hamals form themselves into Guilds, allotting themselves special spheres of work or districts, and are very jealous of interference by outsiders in what they consider their monopoly.
In addition to the porterage of goods they also undertake the hewing of wood, such as is used for warming purposes in the East. They begin by conveying it on their backs in lengths of 5 or 6 feet, in which it arrives from the forests, and, throwing it in a heap in front of your door, they proceed forthwith to chop it with their axes into lengths of 12 to 14 inches, and then store it. In the meanwhile half the street is occupied by the hewers, and chips fly right and left, endangering the eyes and faces of passers-by.
Up to the time of the Armenian massacres, Armenian hamals had nearly the entire monopoly of the Constantinople Custom-house porterage, but the majority were slaughtered in cold blood or had to flee, and Kurds (many of whom were their murderers) were engaged in their place.
But the latter had neither the experience, nor the skill, nor the obliging manners of the Armenians, and for a long time business was disorganized, and merchants were discontented.
Before dismissing the subject of the hamals, reference may be made to a peculiar contrivance they adopt for preventing water conveyed in open barrels from spilling, through the vibration. It simply consists in floating a disc of wood on the surface, and this seems as effectual as the sailors' device of throwing oil over the troubled waters. Anyone may try it and see the result.
It is difficult to depict the habits of a people in a country so widespread as Armenia, but I may briefly allude to the houses they inhabit in Erzerum, the principal town of Armenia, and one which, according to Armenian tradition, stands on the site of the Garden of Eden! In any case, the climate has changed since those blissful days, for owing to its high latitude of 5,000 feet above the sea, that district is bitterly cold during the winter and hot during the summer. Indeed, for six months of the year, and more, snow is said to lie in the streets of Erzerum. The houses are in consequence low and small, consisting generally of a ground-floor only, with a flat roof over it. They are built of stone against the sides of a hill, and each room stands with a separate roof. As these roofs or terraces are connected with steps, one can walk a very considerable way over them. During the summer they are overgrown with grass, and are the favourite resort of women and children, the latter taking with them their lambs to browse over the grass and flowers. Each room of these houses has a fireplace, where cow-dung fuel is consumed. The furniture is very simple, and consists of a raised divan round three sides of the room, on which the family sit during the day, and often sleep at night. Only few houses possess chairs and tables. Meals are served on a round tray placed on a stool, around which the family squat and partake from a common dish. The characteristic feature of the house is the stable for oxen, one portion of which has a raised platform, with divans and carpets, and is used as the men's reception-room. The breath of the cattle helps to keep it warm and cosy, and underneath the platform the dogs lie and sleep, while on the divan, resting along with the men, are lovely silken-haired cats, many of which have their tails dyed red with henna.
In winter the houses can hardly be distinguished under the snow, and the town is described as a great rabbit-warren, with the passages leading to the doors of the houses like so many burrows.
GREEKS AND VLACHS
In our account of the races ruled over by the Turks we must not forget the Greeks, those enterprising colonists who, long before the Christian era, settled along the coast of the Black Sea, and all along the sea-line which now fringes the Ottoman Empire, as well as in its islands, and who also founded commercial stations in the interior. In earliest times we find them connected with such expeditions as the Argonautic, in quest of the Golden Fleece, and returning, not only with rich trophies, but with wonderful legends regarding the lands they visited. I could entertain you at great length on their adventures in the countries I am describing, but this is not the object of this book, and my reference to the past must only be to show you that the present Greeks in Turkey are much the same people as their ancestors, with the same love for commerce, the same love for the beautiful and the same glowing imagination. Yet they differ in this respect, that they are now a subject instead of an independent people. They also differ in not calling themselves Hellenes, but Romei—i.e., Romans—an appellation which, strange to say, applies only to members of the Greek Church. Roman Catholics contemptuously refuse to be called Romei, and style themselves Latins.
Intermarriages have somewhat tainted the purity of their blood, and in many cases they have lost the use of their mother-tongue, and can only speak Turkish, but still they are Greeks to all intents and purposes, and mostly members of the Greek or Orthodox Church.
The Greek type of face is much the same as what we see in the statuary in our museums. The forehead is broad but rather low, the nose and profile straight, the eyes large, the lips full, the chin firm, and the neck rounded. They are tall and stately, and graceful in their movements, and have small hands and feet.
In character they are highly imaginative, superficial, and shrewd, but make excellent husbands and wives, and inspire their children with a love for home and respect for their parents.
In education the wealthier classes are advanced, but the peasantry are still backward. The Greek spoken by the latter is very corrupt, and has a large admixture of Turkish and Italian, but the efforts of School Boards and of the local newspapers are tending to purify and elevate it. At present even the New Testament Greek is above the average man's comprehension.
The Greeks, as of yore, have much of the heroic in their character, and their ballads are full of the noble deeds, both of men and of women, in their defence against their oppressors.
Their usual method of vindicating their rights and protecting themselves consisted in forming bands of Armatolæ, or Kleptæ, and occupying strongholds in the mountains, from which they would sweep down unexpectedly and avenge themselves, or carry away some wealthy Pacha as captive until he was ransomed.
These bands were looked up to by the people as heroes and deliverers—the Jephthas and Gideons of their captivity.
But unfortunately their exploits were not resorted to for the cause of freedom and justice alone, and have often degenerated into sheer acts of brigandage. A series of them were recently enacted in Macedonia, and on one occasion an Englishman was surprised, surrounded, and carried to the mountains. A messenger was sent down with a demand for his ransom, and with a threat that unless this was produced within a stated time, or if pursuit was made, his life would be forfeited. The sum fixed upon was the captives' weight in gold, and as he unfortunately happened to be a heavy man, the amount represented £12,000. The ransom was duly paid, but the money afterwards recovered from the Turkish Government.
As an instance of the strange mixture of superstition and depravity among some of these brigand bands, it is related that on one occasion a band plundered a church, and then, seizing the priest, the Kleptæ put a sword to his throat until he absolved them from the offence.
Acts of brigandage are not, however, limited to Greeks, though they are the chief offenders, but are shared with Albanians and Turks. Nor have Macedonia and Greece had the monopoly, but Smyrna and the hill-country near Constantinople have given scope for their activities. Their spies and agents in these towns supplied them with information, and the villagers and shepherds about their districts being in full sympathy, kept them in supplies and ammunition.
From the bandit it is pleasant to turn to the agricultural and pastoral life of the Greeks in Turkey, and describe the assistance that boys and girls give to their parents.
When the wheat or barley has been harvested, the sheaves are spread on the threshing-floor, which has previously been carefully prepared with clay and stones beaten down into a smooth surface. A broad wooden sledge is then provided, with sharp flint-stones firmly embedded into the under portion. One or two horses are attached to the sledge and a boy or girl, seated on a stool on the sledge, seizes the reins, and whip in hand, drives the horses at full gallop round and round the threshing-floor. The sharp flints, acting as knives, soon cut up the long stalks into straw, and separate the grain. Then a windy day is selected, and with long wooden forks the straw is tossed up into the air, the wind carrying the chaff and straw to a short distance, and leaving the heavier grain at the winnower's feet. The winnowed grain is then shovelled up into a heap, and there it must remain until the tax-gatherer has come and removed one-tenth on behalf of the Government. The harvest-festival follows, when, attired in their best clothes and with flowers on their heads and sheaves of golden grain in their hands, the harvesters proceed to the towns, and dance and sing before the doors of their patrons.
One of their favourite dances is the old classical syrto, or long-drawn dance, performed on the village green. The youths and maidens don their picturesque gala costumes, and prepare for the dance, while the elderly men group themselves round the coffee-house, smoking their pipes and sipping coffee, and the matrons, with little ones, sit under the trees and gossip. A musician, with fiddle, pipe, or viol, sits on a barrel, while each youth produces his coloured handkerchief, and, holding it by one corner, presents the other to the girl at his side. She in her turn presents her own to the dancer next to her; a long line or circle is formed, and the dance is proceeded with, the youths and maidens responding to each other in the words of a song.
The dress of the girls differs very much according to the locality where they reside. That of the villages near Constantinople consists of a loose, bright-coloured bodice, worn over a blouse open at the neck, and a coloured kerchief twisted round the head, from under the folds of which the hair hangs down the back in rich plaited tresses. The trousers are loose, baggy, and voluminous, and are fastened with a cord round the waist.
A SHEKERDJIS' SHOP.
Over the bodice a bright zouave is worn, richly embroidered in gold or silver, and strings of gold or silver coins hang round the head, or as a necklace round the throat, while on the wrists are heavy bracelets.
In other places it is described as consisting of "a skirt woven in stripes of silk and woollen, reaching to the ankles, with a tight-fitting bodice of the same, a cloth jacket braided or embroidered round the borders in gold thread and lined with fur, and in some districts a bright-coloured apron ornamented with needlework" (L. Garnett, "Women in Turkey").
The same writer reports that in the islands a favourite amusement on these occasions is for the girls to suspend a rope across a narrow street from the wall of their own house to that of a neighbour, and every youth who wishes to pass by must pay toll in the form of a small coin, and give one of the girls a swing, while he sings the following verse:
To which the maiden replies:
The Vlachs that inhabit Macedonia follow principally pastoral and agricultural pursuits. They spend the winter in their mountain villages, but during the summer they lead a nomadic life in quest of pastures, and move about, gipsy-like, in caravans.
The care of their father's flock is committed to the charge of the daughters, whose beauty has often been extolled in many an amorous folklore song. Their duties are to milk the sheep and goats, churn the milk into butter, or convert it into cheese, bleach and spin the wool, and weave garments for the use of the family. A loom occupies the corner of every dwelling, and every spare moment is given to twisting thread with a spindle.
There is considerable dislike among the Greeks to let their daughters go out to service, but this feeling is not shared by the inhabitants of the Greek islands. On the contrary, they supply the main stock of domestic servants, and recognized agents sail to and from the islands to find them occupation and attend to their interests. These Greek servants are generally very ignorant, can seldom write, and depend on the agent or some kind friend both for reading and writing their letters. They do not draw their pay monthly or quarterly, but prefer to allow it to accumulate with their masters, and withdraw it in a lump sum. After having stayed for some years in service, the girls are greatly in demand with their countrymen, and return to their islands and marry, but only to go back to service when their lazy husbands have expended their savings. Many of them return in the capacity of wet-nurses, a vocation greatly in demand in the East, where children are seldom brought up on the bottle. They are highly paid, and, moreover, receive presents on such important occasions as the child's cutting its first tooth and the like.
Their social position is also different from that of other servants, for as foster-mothers they have a say in the child's upbringing, and their own children can claim kinship as foster-brothers or foster-sisters. Strange and incongruous connections are often the result, as, for instance, in the case of an acquaintance of mine in Smyrna, a British subject and manager of a bank. His foster-brother, a Greek, took to the mountains, and was known as the famous brigand, Caterdjee Yiani, and many a time the latter escaped detection and arrest by hiding in the house of his British milk-kinsman.
Wet-nurses in the Sultan's palace are, it is stated, invariably Circassians, and their own children become playmates with the Crown Princes, and are not forgotten in after life. The foster-mother enjoys a title of courtesy, and often her influence in the palace comes next to that of the reigning Sultan's mother. In the case of the wet-nurse of Sultan Abdul Aziz, her power was such that frequently the appointment or dismissal of Governors and other State officials depended on her good-will.
Greek servants are as a rule honest, but very slovenly, and at first very raw and unused to the ways of civilized life. They love to go about barefooted, or shuffle in slippers. Their hair is seldom combed, and their garments hang loosely about them. Their head-dress is a printed kerchief, called a fakiol, which they wear both indoors and out of doors, but the more advanced wear hats, and consider it such a distinction, that a man-servant of mine, who wanted to get married, could not describe his intended to me in more flattering terms than by saying that "she wears the capello" (hat).
On Sundays they put on their finery and are very keen to go to church, and gossip with their fellow-servants in the women's gallery. It was probably to similar tittle-tattling, so common in Eastern churches, that St. Paul referred when forbidding women to "speak in the churches."
Factories are so seldom to be seen in Turkey that women have few opportunities of employment as factory-girls, but in the silk-spinning factories in Brusa Greek, Armenian, and Turkish girls work side by side. Their great ambition is to be possessed of and wear gold coins about their persons, but specially a five-lira piece, representing about £4 10s. of our money. Too eager to wait until their savings enable them to buy that coin, they go to a money-changer and receive one immediately on credit, paying him weekly a stipulated instalment, and interest at 12 per cent. a year in addition. The result is that when they have paid off the debt they find that the coin has cost them at least £6 or £7; but in the meanwhile their feminine vanity has been gratified, and the coin displayed three or four years earlier than otherwise.
A curious class of people to be found in nearly every village in Turkey, and even in the interior of Arabia, Egypt, and Khartoum, is that of the bakals, or grocers, who are Greeks from Kaisarieh, in Karamania (Asia Minor). Fat, dumpy, and oily, with dirty, baggy trousers, greasy vests and shining countenances, they are as like one another as two peas. They have practically the monopoly of the retail grocery business, and their shops contain everything you can imagine in the way of Eastern articles of diet—bread, cheese, black olives, salted anchovies, sardines, curdled milk called yiaourt, oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, rice, sausages, and dried meats, honey, butter, dried fruits, tallow candles, matches, etc.
Their little boys—chips of the old block—go round every house, calling out "Bakalis" and catering for orders, or bringing them back in conical bags of brown paper. Nearly everybody buys on credit, and an account is run up (not always too honestly) which, after a short time, becomes formidable, and credit is stopped till an instalment is paid.
The bakals' book-keeping is of the most primitive type, and will baffle the sharpest chartered accountant; but mistakes are seldom on the wrong side.
A peculiar method for recording the number of loaves of bread distributed in each house is that of the tchetoula, and consists in cutting a notch on a piece of stick for every loaf taken. The householder retains the stick, and receives a new one when the amount is paid. Another method is to make a chalk-mark on the door, and efface it on payment.
With a community living from hand to mouth like the Eastern, it is difficult to know what they would do without the ubiquitous bakal. Besides making himself useful in the catering-line, he frequently is the only man in his village who can read, and is resorted to both for reading and writing letters. His correspondence is carried on in Turkish words, but with Greek characters, full of conventional signs and contractions, and is next to impossible to decipher.
Stray newspapers sometimes reach him, and the news of the day is conveyed by him to clients; and should there be a Christian church in his village, he is sure to be one of its dignitaries, and as psaltis, or precentor, preside over the singing.
Another curious product, if I may so call it, of the Greek market is a class of beggars known as the Volitziani. They come from villages in Thessaly, and are young women who put aside their best garments, and don an old black skirt and black jacket, so as to assume an air of abject poverty. When about to start they receive from their community a beggar's staff, as a badge or passport of their functions, and they proceed to Constantinople, or any other town where begging offers advantageous prospects. On their arrival they borrow or hire two or three children, one of which is an infant, and which they drug and cause to sleep on a handkerchief spread out in a corner of the street. The beggar sits beside it, putting on her most tearful looks, and when any likely passer-by approaches, she raises her voice in supplication, and sends the other children to pull at his coat-tails. These Volitziani frequent the neighbourhood of churches, and their appeal is: "Give for the sake of the souls of the departed." The result is a plentiful harvest of coins, which enables them to return with a bagful to their country. The beggar's staff is then hung behind the door as a trophy. Should they desire to proceed on another begging expedition, a second staff is given them, and so on, and at each successive return the staff that has done service is deposited behind the door. Sometimes as many as seven make up the trophy. Young men desiring to find wives with money pry behind the door, and form an approximate idea of the fortune of the owner, the one with seven staffs taking, of course, the palm.
Constantinople was once the great resort of beggars of all descriptions, and lines of them used to exhibit on the Galata Bridge (see frontispiece) all manners of deformities to elicit sympathy, but one of the reforming measures of the Young Turks was to expel them from the city. In illustration facing Chapter III. you will see one of these wayside beggars.
We read in the New Testament of Jews scattered all over the Roman Empire. The same is true of them to-day in Turkey. Their principal resorts are Constantinople, Smyrna, Salonica, and the other great towns.
Some are original colonists, principally from Palestine; others are exiles from Spain in 1493. Common vicissitudes with the Moors, who had also been ejected from Spain, created sympathy for them in the Moslem world, and, to the honour of the Turk let it be told, they were offered a shelter and a home. These immigrants introduced with them the jargon which they had employed in Spain, and which consists of a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish, and is known as Judeo-Spanish. To it have been grafted a number of Italian and Turkish words, and it has been adopted as the common vernacular of both classes of Jews above mentioned.
A CEMETERY BY THE BOSPHORUS.
Another division is that of Hebrews from Russia, Poland, and Austria. These do not understand Judeo-Spanish, but speak corrupt Russian and German, and differ from their southern brethren in features and customs; they all adhere to the law of Moses, and accept the teaching of the Prophets. There exists also a sect of Jews called Dunmés, or turncoats, who are both Mahomedans and Jews. Ostensibly they are the former, and observe all Moslem rites, but secretly they practise those of the Hebrews also.
The Dunmés give their children two names, one a Turkish, such as Mustapha, and the other a Hebrew, such as Jacob.
They reside chiefly in Salonica, and are very fanatical, and were the ringleaders of a riot against the Christians in 1870. On the other hand, several have distinguished themselves recently by joining the Reform Party in Turkey, known as Young Turks, who overthrew Sultan Hamid, and introduced the Constitution.
Perhaps they are the only class of Jews who are seamen, and it is interesting to watch their flotilla of small boats board the steamers that arrive in Salonica. From their screams and shouts, you would think yourself in pandemonium. The originator of the sect was a certain Sabbatai Levy, who proclaimed himself the Messiah in 1648, but afterwards accepted Mahomedanism to save his life. His adherents believe in his return, and it is stated that one of their number always awaits the arrival of the railway-train in Salonica to offer him a welcome.
Jews in Turkey are not relegated to ghettos, as in several European cities, but all the same they live in separate quarters, as, indeed, do all the other nationalities. Their quarters may be recognized by their malodorous smells, their filth, and the numerous families residing in the houses, and also from the babel of tongues, and the shrill, discordant voices of women or children shouting to each other or quarrelling.
Jews in the East engage principally in commerce, banking, money-changing, pawnbrokerage, dealings on the Stock Exchange, watchmaking, and shopkeeping.
A feature among them is the early age at which boys commence earning their daily bread. As young as six or seven you may see them going about with trays containing cigarette-papers, pins, matches, and similar cheap articles. Boys in this country will marvel at the ease and rapidity with which mere tots can work calculations mentally in the course of their business.
When they grow up to manhood many engage in window-cleaning, an occupation which has come to be a Jewish speciality, and which an Eastern servant will resent if called upon to undertake. Others go about riveting or cementing broken china, or, with a small charcoal brazier and soldering irons, as tinkers; others sell a special kind of sand for cleaning pots and pans, which they hawk about under its Latin name of arena. Some make a speciality of buying, washing, and sorting empty bottles, which they afterwards re-sell with profit; others, of course, buy up old clothes, or, with a capacious wooden box slung over their back, go about selling all those little articles which are indispensable to ladies. When called to a house they spread out all their paraphernalia, and the bargaining, which Easterns take such a delight in, begins—buyer and seller trying to outwit and deceive each other—the housewife feeling happy and virtuous all day if she has beaten down the Jew to one-third of his demands, and the Jew unhappy because he had not charged more.
Hebrew marriages in the East occur at an early period of life, fifteen with girls and eighteen with boys, and even earlier in Palestine. The result is large families and much destitution, but with all that one seldom sees any Jewish beggars, their system for relief of poverty being so admirable. They are frugal in their habits, living largely on bread, salt-fish, leeks, and onions, and, during the season, on fruits. The produce sold in their shambles is, moreover, of the cheapest and most inferior quality, yet, notwithstanding all this, the Jews are the longest lived and healthiest of the Eastern races.
The dress of those in Constantinople consists of two or three long gowns, open below the knees; the sleeves are long. Their head-dress is the Turkish fez. In winter they wear long furs over their gowns. Married women cover their hair with a sort of bag-like embroidered kerchief, called yemeni, which is painted with flowers and ornamented with lace and seed-pearls.
Within recent years much has been done, both by the Jewish Alliance and the Scottish and English Mission Schools, to educate boys and girls, and there is certainly a great improvement.
Jews are fatalists, and are convinced that the decrees of fate are unalterable, yet they imagine that Providence may be cheated and thus deterred from its purposes. Accordingly, if Joseph happens to fall ill, and there is a likelihood of his dying, they forthwith change his name into, we will say, Benjamin, and they expect that when the Angel of Death arrives to fulfil his mission he will think he has made a mistake, and gone to the wrong house. So everyone in the room keeps addressing the invalid as Benjamin, and, should he recover, they all congratulate themselves on their masterly deception.
Another expedient, but principally connected with children's ailments, is to trap the malevolent demon who has induced the sickness, and this they profess to do by laying a trail of sugar from the child's sick-bed to a well. The greedy demon follows the track, and gets drowned!
Dread of the evil-eye is as prevalent with the Jews as with the other races in Turkey. They believe that there are certain malignant spirits in existence who are envious of men's happiness and do all they can to destroy it, especially when any self-praise or praise by others has been expressed by the lips. This power, it is further believed, is not restricted to demons, but is also shared by individuals, especially those possessing blue eyes. Quite an elaborate series of antidotes or prophylactics are adopted as a preservative against such influence, the most potent of which is to prefix to each commendation the magic spell-word Mashalla—i.e., "In the name of God." To this may be added the power of the blue bead, the evil spirit having a great predilection for that colour. Hence, if you praise a child for its beauty, and it happens to wear blue beads, the spirit's attention will be so absorbed with the bead that it will not hear your remarks. Another preservative is garlic, which has a repellent effect on the evil spirit.
As a consequence, everything in Turkey that has to be protected from the evil-eye is decorated either with the one or the other, and you seldom see a horse, a draught ox, or even a donkey, that has not a string of blue beads about its neck. Children wear these charms on their caps; and the prows of boats, the roofs of houses, cages of birds, and even hovels have a bunch of garlic suspended with strings. It is even stated that bouquets of flowers formed of spices, and in the centre of which garlic is nestled, are sent as a present to the mother of a new-born infant, as a safeguard both to herself and the child.
Suspended along with the garlic on the gables of Turkish houses framed texts from the Koran are often to be seen, and on the doorposts of Hebrew houses a small tablet with the word Shadai (the Almighty). Jewish houses have also imprinted on the walls the impress of a man's hand, with the five fingers outstretched. In Christian houses the prophylactic takes the form of a cross, which frequently is nailed on the eaves during the process of building.
A people resembling the Jews in that, like them, they are "found scattered toward all the four winds of heaven, and there is no nation whither these outcasts have not come," are the gipsies. They are to be met with in every part of the Sultan's dominions, and in physical appearance, manners, and character they are very similar to those in our country.
Moslems and Christians vie with each other in holding them in execration, and they are branded by the former as the Kitabsis, or "bookless" nation, because of the unwritten form of their beliefs and worship. Yet the presence of gipsy-girls at weddings and other ceremonies is much in demand, in order to amuse the guests with their dancing and singing, to the accompaniment of the tambourine or the flute.
The men are frequently blacksmiths, or they rear horses and donkeys (besides stealing them), and frequently earn something by the sale of asses' milk, which is considered beneficial for chest complaints. The she-ass is led early in the morning to the patient's door, and the newly-drawn milk taken while quite warm and frothy.
The children, of course, beg and steal, but the most fruitful occupation of the women is that of fortune-telling, the usual methods employed being the reading of the palm of the hand and cards. A little mirror placed in the bottom of a small box is also consulted.
But divination and fortune-telling is not limited to gipsies; tall negro-women, with great rolling eyes, may be seen seated on the ground in public squares, with groups of inquirers of both sexes around them. They divine by means of beans or black pebbles (see illustration facing Chapter VII.).
There is another class of soothsayers who profess to recover lost property, and see or show the face of the thief reflected in the water of a deep well. A valuable ring was once lost in a house, and no clue or evidence could be obtained as to the culprit, so the services of a diviner were requisitioned. He arrived at night, bringing in a bag a red cock, which he professed would crow the instant the guilty party touched it. The inmates of the house were all ordered to squat in a circle on the ground; the cock was placed in their midst, and all lights were extinguished. "Now," said the diviner, "let everybody rest their hands on the cock." They all apparently did so, and lights were called for, and an exhibition of hands was demanded. A red stain was visible on every hand except one—that of the guilty maid-servant, who had not touched the cock for fear of being betrayed.
Residents in Turkey have inherited many of the superstitions of the Greeks and Romans, such as augury from the flight of birds, and the entrails of newly-slaughtered animals, and faith in astrology. The Sultan keeps a royal astrologer, who publishes yearly a list of the lucky and unlucky days, and no one will think of undertaking a journey, marrying a wife, or commencing business without consulting it.
At the birth of a child a horoscope is made out for his benefit, indicating under what constellation he was born, and laying down rules accordingly for his guidance.
On a certain day in March a peculiar kind of sweet, resembling and tasting like spiced toffy, but coloured red and with a sheet of gold-leaf stuck on it, is sent round to all palace officials. The elegant bowl that contains it is fastened in bright muslin, and is tied with coloured ribbons and sealed, and has to be opened and the contents eaten at the specified moment indicated by the astrologer, in order to secure wealth and felicity during the year.
When troubled with dreams or otherwise apprehensive of impending misfortune, Turks believe that by hanging shreds of rags on the railings of the tomb of an old saint the danger may be averted. The consequence is that some of these shrines are literally covered and disfigured with rags.
Dogs are also considered excellent subjects to which disease may be transferred. The patient can effect this by feeding them.
A popular remedy for illness of any kind is to obtain from the imam, or priest, a written text of the Koran and swallow it, and I have known of doctors' prescriptions being taken the same way, and doubtless with similar effect.
Another superstition is that, if a person has had a fall, water poured on the spot will prevent its repetition.
A curious method for arresting the spread of infectious disease is to surround the patient with a circle of some disinfectant, and during a cholera scare I saw it applied to a man on the Galata bridge who had an apoplectic stroke. The case was considered suspicious, and his body was removed, but a circle of whitewash, like the markings of a tennis-court, was drawn round the place where he had fallen, and the infection thus imprisoned!
Scraps of paper thrown in the street are held in reverence and removed by pious Moslems, because the Name of God may be written on them and profaned if trodden upon; but another version is that all scraps not thus collected by the Moslem will be scattered over the burning soil through which he is to pass, after death, on the way to Paradise, and will make his passage more painful.
SYRIANS, DRUSES, MARONITES, AND BEDOUINS
An account of Palestine having been given in "Peeps at the Holy Land," I will not allude specially to it, although it belongs to Turkey. Arabic is the language also spoken in Syria, which lies north of Palestine, and in Mesopotamia, which is to the east.
Of the ancient towns of Tyre and Sidon, once famous as the capitals of Phœnicia, nothing now remains but ruins on which fishermen dry their nets. The inhabitants in the surrounding regions, however, still keep up many of their ancient customs and superstitions, and, in a modified way, Baal and Astarte are still worshipped.
The slopes of the Lebanon adjoining Beyrout are inhabited by the Druses and the Maronites, who, since the year 1860, have obtained semi-independence, and are ruled by a Christian Governor appointed by the Sultan.
The Lebanon Ranges are very beautiful; they abound in aromatic flowers, and bees yield an enormous production of excellent honey. They are also the home of the cedar.
As already stated, a railway, starting from Beyrout, crosses the Lebanon and connects it with Damascus, one of the most ancient cities of the world. Damascus is also one of the most beautiful, the plain on which it stands being a continuous garden, over fifty miles in circuit, rich in oranges, lemons, pomegranates, mulberries, figs, plums, apricots, walnuts, pears, quinces, etc. The town, through which flows a river, contains several magnificent structures, including a splendid mosque, which was once a Christian church, but the streets of the city are squalid and dirty. One of the most interesting is that called Straight, which St. Paul traversed.
Damascus has a large manufacturing industry, and among other articles produces beautiful silks. It formerly produced those remarkable Damascus swords, inimitable for hardness, elasticity, sharpness, and tenacity, as well as for the beauty of their ornamentation. It gives its name to the plums which we call "damsons."
Damascus is a great centre for the conveyance of merchandise to Bagdad and Persia by means of camel caravans—those fleets of the desert. They are accompanied by armed escorts, as their journey lies through a long stretch of desert, inhabited by numerous Bedouins or Arab tribes, ever ready to blackmail the caravan.
These tribes inhabit the Hauran during the spring, and move to the desert in autumn. They own camels, asses, and sheep, and rear magnificent horses, which are justly considered the most beautiful in the world.
The Bedouins live in tents made of black goat's-hair, and their camp looks from a distance like a number of grazing cattle. The tent of their sheik, or chief, is distinguished by its greater size, and round it are those of the members of the family. Before the tent-doors the horses are tethered.
Family life among them is patriarchal, the sheik being priest, judge, and ruler. With some tribes women occupy a high social position, and menial work is done mostly by the men.
The Arabs subsist chiefly on dates, which they gather and store in October, but when in the desert they live to some extent on the produce of the chase, which comprises an abundance of gazelles, hares, and quails.
These they hunt with greyhounds or with trained hawks. The latter, when they see their quarry, swoop upon it, and pick at its eyes until the hunter arrives.
The Bedouins live also on bread, which they bake in thin flat cakes, and on milk, specially in its fermented condition, which they call leben. Their butter they have to keep in summer in jars, as, owing to the heat, it is then as liquid as oil.
The great province of Mesopotamia, where formerly stood Babylon and Nineveh, forms the south-eastern limit of the Turkish Empire. Watered by the Euphrates and the Tigris, it was once a magnificent agricultural district, but the incompetency of its rulers has allowed the network of canals, which distributed the waters of these rivers, to dry up, and the country is now largely a wilderness.
Its population, the remnant of the Chaldeans, has also decreased, and is poor. The houses are made with sun-dried bricks, cemented with bitumen. The roofs are flat, and the lower rooms are underground, and are used during the summer months as bedrooms, owing to the excessive heat.
The navigation of the upper reaches of the Euphrates is by means of rafts, underneath which are inflated skins of oxen. On this raft the traveller's tent is pitched, and he drifts leisurely down the river, while the boatmen help it along with long poles.
Having summarized the customs of some of the people under Ottoman rule, I must say something of the Turks themselves.
When a Turkish baby comes to this world no dainty embroidered linen and warm bath await it, but it is dressed in a plain cotton shirt and a cotton, quilted dressing-gown. Its limbs are then tightly wrapped in a long shroud, so that it cannot move them. Frequently a cushion is put between its legs before shrouding, and this probably accounts for so many children being bandy-legged. The child is then rolled into a quilted blanket, which is strapped up into a shapeless bundle, from which a little head appears, wearing a red cap, copiously studded with blue beads and seed pearls, as a protection from the evil-eye. The baby is then laid in a wooden rocking-cradle, which has a bar connecting its two raised ends, by means of which the cradle is lifted. Some of these cradles are very beautiful, and are inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl, and they bear appropriate inscriptions, carved in Arabic characters on the woodwork, such as "Under the Shadow of the Almighty," etc.
Among poorer people a canvas hammock takes the place of the cradle, and in it the baby is carried out of doors, and the hammock swung between two trees, while the mother attends to her duties.
On the third day after birth it is washed and presented to its father, who shouts thrice in its ear the name by which it is to be known.
A festive reception is then held by the mother in her room, and streams of women-visitors come to compliment her and peep at the infant. But the poor little thing does not receive the baby-worship and adulation bestowed in this country. On the contrary, it is addressed in insulting language, and called ugly, and a wretch, and a monster, and is deliberately spat upon—and all this in order to ward off the influence of the evil-eye.
It is quite exceptional for a babe to be brought up in the East on the bottle; should its mother be unable to nurse it a wet-nurse is procured.
Both mothers and nurses are singularly ignorant in the question of upbringing, and many an infant dies through injudicious feeding after it is weaned.
The love of Turkish parents for their children is excessive to a fault. A characteristic story is related of a Turk who was so distressed at the indisposition of his grandchild that he would neglect his business and hasten constantly to the patient's room to inquire as to his condition; and when the doctor ordered strict diet for a fortnight the anxious grandfather compelled his whole household, including himself, to submit to the same fare, for fear that the patient might be disappointed in not sharing the food of the family.
To such extent do Turks carry their love for children that they will adopt those of others, and bring them up with the same tenderness as their own, and will provide for them in after-life.
Children, on the other hand, are exemplary in their respect for their parents, and kiss their hands, and will not sit down, unless invited, in their presence. Even when they have reached mature age their mother is consulted, confided in, and listened to with respect. "My wives die," says the Osmanlee, "and I replace them; my children perish, and others are born to me; but who shall restore to me the mother who has passed away?"
Nor is this regard limited to the humbler classes; it is conspicuous in the case of the Sultan, who, on his accession to the throne, elevates his mother to the rank of Valide Sultana, or Queen-Mother, and requires all persons belonging to his harem to swear allegiance to her. Her rule is absolute, and even the Sultan's wives cannot leave their apartments, or go out for drives, or shopping, without her permission.
The early childhood of both boys and girls among Turks is spent in the harem—that is, the section of the house reserved for the women—but until the age of twelve, girls are not subject to the restraints of grown-up women, nor required to wear the veil, and they often accompany their fathers in excursions or join the boys in their play. They even attend the same elementary school, and, sitting cross-legged with them on a mat, repeat the alphabet, or recite texts from the Koran given out to them by the imam, or priest, of the mosque with which the school is connected. These recitations are carried on in a monotonous drawling tone, and the body is swung forwards and backwards, the imam himself setting the time by his own rhythmical nodding.
On their return home they frequently join their mothers and other inmates of the harem in an afternoon's stroll. The Turks are great lovers of Nature, and have a keen appreciation of the beautiful, but prefer sitting down to walking, and generally spend their afternoons resting under the shade of a great tree, or near the water's edge, making kef, or, in other words, doing nothing.
They invariably carry with them a boktcha, or bundle, containing a rug and picnic requisites, while one of the party carries a red clay pitcher, with water. Water is an indispensable requisite with Turks, and they will enjoy drinking it from the pitcher as much as from a glass.
A TURKISH LADY IN OUTDOOR DRESS.
The rug spread out, the party will all sit cross-legged upon it, and as other groups of women also congregate in the same place, dressed in garments of variegated colours, you would imagine yourself amid beds of many-coloured tulips, while the boys and girls playing around suggest fluttering butterflies.
The enjoyment of the women consists in smoking cigarettes, and gazing between each puff at the glorious scenery. Vendors of all sorts of eatables surround them, and, we will say, a shekerdgi, or dealer in sweeties, answers to their call, and places his circular tray, which he carries on his head, on the tripod-stand which he rests on the ground. The children flock around him, puzzled what to choose in that array of Turkish delight and shekers of every kind and colour. At last a choice is made, and the sweets are placed in a brown-paper bag shaped like a cone, and shared by the party. Shortly afterwards an Albanian selling halva as described in Chapter II., is called to contribute his wares. Then walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts come in for their turn, then ices, maybe, and something more solid in the shape of simits, or ring-cakes, as shown in the illustration in Chapter II. At sunset the boktchas are made up, and the party wends its way home to partake of a more substantial meal.
But should the night be bright, with moonlight, the party often start out again, and prolong their enjoyment until late hours, or until a policeman or old Turk passing by reminds them it is time to retire. It is amusing, in connection with these moonlight promenades, to see the women walking about or sitting with open sunshades to protect themselves from the lunar rays, imagining, no doubt, that they occasion lunacy.
Sometimes a too close proximity to the Bosphorus is selected for spreading the family rug, and an unusually large wash from a steamer passing by breaks unexpectedly on the shore, showering clouds of spray over the women's heads. The cold douche sets them all on their feet, screaming, and the bed of tulips now looks like one dashed by a storm.
But sometimes the ladies are more enterprising; a picnic to some distant part is decided upon, and arabas, or carts, drawn by oxen or buffaloes, are engaged. These conveyances are springless, and about 9 feet long by 4 feet wide. Those intended for excursion purposes have highly ornamented boards of carved, gilt, and painted wood on the two long sides, and an arched awning overhead, made usually of crimson cloth, with gilt or silver fringes.
The yoke attached to the oxen's necks has also an arched projection over it, on which tassels of various colours, and sometimes bells, are suspended in two or more tiers.
The driver, in baggy trousers, short jacket (often dispensed with), and a red fez, walks leisurely alongside the oxen, with a goad in his hand to direct them.
The cart has no seats, but the occupants provide themselves with carpets and cushions. The jolting on bad roads is, of course, tremendous, but this is considered part of the fun of the excursion.
Packed as closely as possible, with the children to fill up odd corners, the cart proceeds on its way groaning and creaking, while its inmates roar with continued laughter, especially when an unusually big jolt has jostled them together.
Having arrived at their destination, the carpets are spread out, and while some prepare and lay out the appetizing viands, others disport themselves in the fields, and return laden with flowers and with great yellow marigolds stuck in their hair.
The repast may consist of such hors-d'œuvres as salted sardines, black olives, caviar, and salad of tchiros, or dried mackerel. This mackerel is the fish that in spring-time migrates from the Mediterranean, where it has spawned, into the Black Sea, and is in such an emaciated condition that the expression "thin as a tchiros" is used in Turkey to designate a person of extreme leanness. Nevertheless, it is caught and dried in the sun in such large quantities that the fields over which they are suspended look blue from a distance. They are sold by the pair, or "married couples," as the vendors cry out, and are grilled, shredded, and prepared into salad with oil and vinegar, and the tender leaves of the cummin (tereot).
Next to the hors-d'œuvres follow dolmaz or rissoles of rice, raisins, and pine-nuts, seasoned with oil, and wrapped and boiled in vine-leaves. Keftez or meat rissoles come next, and then the fruits of the season, such as strawberries, cherries, and plums, or, should it be autumn, grapes, peaches, melons, water-melons, figs, etc. Cheese is frequently eaten with these fruits. Hoshaf, or the sweetened water in which fruit has been stewed, is generally drunk during meals, and when the humble repast is over, coffee is prepared, and served round in little cups which will barely hold an ounce.
Turkish coffee owes its excellence to the beans being newly roasted and newly ground. The grinding is done with a small machine, which pulverizes the beans very finely. The coffee is prepared in a special brass pot, the bottom of which is wider than the top. A teaspoonful is put in for every cup required, and the water is gently brought to a simmer over a slow fire. The coffee is allowed to rise thrice, and after resting the pot for a minute for the grounds to settle, it is poured out into the cups and drunk while quite hot, with or without sugar. The cups containing a creamy foam are the most recherché. The dregs are not drunk. The illustration on the cover of this book shows a Kafedji in the act of preparing coffee.
Before and after partaking of food, hands are washed, and this is all the more necessary, as meals are eaten with the fingers, the party sitting round a low tray, and dipping into a common dish. Should the hostess desire to confer a special attention on a guest, she takes up a dainty morsel in her fingers, and exclaiming Buyrum (Welcome), places it gently into the guest's mouth. It would be the grossest insult to refuse. Cigarettes invariably follow, and then comes the lounging and the sleeping, and the return home with the lingering rays of the setting sun.
Accompanying the Arabas large parties of Turkish women and children may often be seen riding astride on donkeys, with donkey-drivers at their heels. No Oriental or Turkish lady would think of riding otherwise, and it is reported that quite a sensation was created when a European lady was first seen riding on a side-saddle. The conclusion was that the unfortunate creature had lost a leg, and people wondered how she could keep on with only the other.
But perhaps the pleasantest method of locomotion is by caik—that daintiest of all boats that float on the surface of the waters. Slender and tapering, its side view may be compared to a half-bent long-bow, and when looked upon from above to two such bows lying opposite each other, string to string. A picture of a heavy sort of caik, used for ferrying passengers across the Golden Horn, may be seen in the frontispiece. A caik is about 20 feet long by 4 feet broad in the middle; it is constructed with slender boards, and is only decked at the bows and the stern. The boatman sits on a seat in the middle of the boat, and its two to four passengers on cushions in the bottom, while a servant sits cross-legged on the raised stern. The oars are long and slender, with a peculiar bulge at the upper extremity to balance them. They are fixed to the rowlock peg by leather thongs, which the boatman continually greases. He is clad in a shirt of transparent gauze, with long hanging sleeves, and bordered round the open chest with a scalloping of needlework. His feet are bare, his ample trousers are of white cotton, and his shaven head is only partially covered by a red fez with tassels of purple silk. At each stroke of the oars the arrowy boat flies and skims the waters like a thing of life. Yet, though swift and graceful, the caik is not so safe nor commodious as an ordinary boat, and in this practical age the barka is rapidly replacing it.
Friday, the Turkish Sunday, is par excellence the day for excursions during the summer to Geuk-sou or the Heavenly Waters, a lovely spot on the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus. A rivulet there discharges itself into the latter, and hundreds of boats may be seen shooting towards it from all directions. A vast concourse of people meet and sit on rugs or low stools, making kef under the shade of superb Oriental plane-trees which abound on that spot, and while sipping coffee or smoking hubble-bubbles, they watch the various performances going on for their benefit. Here is a Punch and Judy show, called cara-geuz, or the black eye, closely resembling our own, and equally popular with the children. There goes a Pomak with a huge Olympian bear, fastened through the nose with a ring; it has been trained to dance at the sound of a tambourine played by its master, and then to go round with it for coppers. Children are always delighted with the bear-show, but the street-dogs set up a tremendous barking, and their cry of alarm is so peculiar and distinctive that one can always tell from the sound when a bear is in sight.
There is frequently also on these occasions an open-air theatrical performance on an improvised stage, but the acting is coarse and vulgar, and admission is generally limited to men.
Of course at this, as at every open-air gathering, vendors of eatables and temperance drinks abound.
Among them I may enumerate yiaourtgis or sellers of that curdled milk, resembling curds, which is now so largely advocated in this country for promoting longevity. It is sold in little bowls, carried in two wooden trays, which are suspended like a pair of scales on either side of a yoke thrown over the shoulders. Dondulmagis or ice-cream vendors, who also carry their burden over the shoulders, one side containing the ice-cream box wrapped in folds and folds of snow-white sheeting, and the other a polished brass receptacle for spoons, cups, and saucers, and water to wash them after use.
A brazier with live coal may also be seen, on which heads of Indian corn are roasted, and greedily munched by the purchasers. Hoshaf and sherbet, or syrup vendors, are also there, with a stand for bottles and glasses, and an ingenious contrivance for revolving, by means of dropping water, a small wheel or paddle, the flaps of which strike against a glass and produce a merry jingling sound which draws attention.
The charm of this concourse of people is the primitive orderly enjoyment of outdoor life, without the disgraceful accompaniments of drunkenness.
THE FAITH OF ISLAM
A peep at Turkey cannot be complete without a passing reference to the religious beliefs of its people, but space will only allow me to mention those of Mahomedans.
Broadly speaking, without counting Arabia, there are 13,000,000 Mahomedans or Moslems, as they are also called; 12,000,000 Christians; and 1,000,000 Jews and members of other persuasions. In Asiatic Turkey, Mahomedans form the majority, but only the minority in European Turkey.
Moslems are the followers of Mahomet, who was born in Mecca, Arabia, in the year 569 of our era, and declared himself to be the Prophet of God, sent to introduce a fuller revelation of Him, which was to supersede Judaism and Christianity.
The Koran, which was the great book of his faith, was declared to have been revealed to him by the Archangel Gabriel. The Koran claims to be the completion of the Law and the Gospel, and it proclaims Mahomet to be the last and greatest of the line of prophets, among whom is included Jesus Christ, but whose divinity is denied.
INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN AHMED I.
The new faith, which received the name of Islam, implying submission to God, was a protest against the heathenish practices of his countrymen in Arabia, and the worship of the Saints and the Virgin Mary among the Christians. The corner-stone was the unity of God, and its leading dogma was expressed in the formula, "La illah il Allah" ("There is no God but God"), to which was added, "Mohamet Resoul Allah" ("Mahomet is the Prophet of God").
In addition to the unity of God, Moslems believe in the existence of good and evil spirits, in the efficacy of prayer, and in a future life with its rewards or punishments.
Prayer with them is homage which the worshippers are required to offer five times a day, according to a fixed ritual, with prescribed genuflections, prostrations, and touching of the ground with the forehead.
When the hour of prayer arrives they will suspend their occupations, spread a rug facing Mecca, and pray wherever they happen to be, shaming Christians by their disregard of ridicule.
The summons to pray or to attend the mosque is made by the muezzim or crier, who ascends the minaret or tower, attached to the mosque (see frontispiece), and from its balcony proclaims the Unity of God, and invites believers to prayer, as follows: "Come to prayers, come to prayers. God is great. There is no God but God." To which, at dawn of day, the exhortation is added: "Prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep."
Before prayer Turks wash their hands, feet, and faces, and remove the shoes from off their feet. Lines of fountains are found outside the mosques for these ablutions. The head of the worshipper remains covered.
Among the observances enjoined upon Moslems are those of charity, fasting, and pilgrimage.
They are bidden to lay aside one-tenth of their income for religious or charitable purposes. Their fasting takes place during the holy month of Ramazan, and lasts from morning twilight to sunset. Abstinence from food, drink, and smoking must be total. At sunset a gun announces that the day is over, and feasting commences and lasts all night. The day is thus transformed to night, and the night to day.
The pilgrimage enjoined is to Mecca, and has to be performed by every Moslem at least once in his lifetime, either in person or by proxy. He then acquires the title of Hadji, or Pilgrim, which he prefixes to his name. The shrine or temple visited at Mecca is called the Caaba, and tradition records that it was there Hagar discovered the well Zem Zem, which saved Ishmael's life, and that the latter, assisted by Abraham, built a tabernacle. An angel brought the corner-stone, which all pilgrims go and kiss. It was originally of crystalline whiteness, but is now coal-black, owing to its absorption of the sins of worshipping pilgrims. On the Day of Judgment it will testify in favour of those who kissed it, whether men or women.
The first mosque was built by Mahomet in Medina, and was of a very simple structure. But as his successors grew wealthier and more powerful, they vied with one another in the magnificence of the buildings erected for God's worship. They were more or less on the model of the Greek churches around them, lofty, and surmounted with a circular dome imitating the canopy of the sky. The dome is covered with lead and on the spike that crowns it is a gilt crescent. The apex of each minaret is also covered with lead and tipped with gold. The dome and the minarets standing side by side remind one of the umbrella pine-tree and the cypress—so characteristic of an Eastern landscape.
The interior of a mosque is a mixture of simplicity and grandeur. The dome is supported by columns, which, in the case of the mosque of Sultan Achmet, represented in the illustration facing this chapter, are inlaid with coloured tiles, and decorated with verses from the Koran. The sunlight streams in from the numerous windows encircling the dome, or from those on the walls of the mosque, many of which are of beautiful stained glass, but without figures of any kind, as Moslems consider this would be breaking the commandment relating to images.
All mosques point toward Mecca, and at the Mecca end stands a mihrab, or niche, from which the imam conducts the devotions. Beside it, supported by pillars, is a terrace for the choir, which consists entirely of men. They chant, seated cross-legged on rugs. South of the mihrab is the minber, or pulpit, from which prayers and addresses are delivered on Fridays. The pulpit in Sultan Achmet's mosque (see illustration) is a masterpiece in marble, and a copy of that in Mecca. Stands for Korans, shaped like the letter X, and inlaid with tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, are placed about the building for public reading, and from the roof hang chandeliers on which are attached numerous lamps fed with olive oil. Interspersed among the lamps are ostrich-eggs and glass-ball ornaments.
Mosques are not seated, but mats and carpets are laid on the stone floor for the use of the faithful. "The luxurious inhabitant of the East, who in his selamlik is wont to recline on cushions, does not pass into the House of God to tenant a crimson-lined and well-padded pew; he takes his place among the crowd—the effendi stands beside the water-carrier, the bey near the charcoal-vendor—he is but one item among many; he arrogates to himself no honour in the temple where all men are as one family."
There is a mistaken idea that Moslems consider that women have no souls, and need not perform devotions. The Koran is explicit to the contrary. They may not worship in the mosques with the men, but groups of them are met, worshipping apart, and during the Ramazan special services are held for women.
Among the various Orders of Dervishes, or Moslem Monks, are those of the Ruffai Order, or Howlers, illustrated in Chapter XI. They are the most fanatical, and meet in a rectangular building to perform their devotions, the idea being to produce such an ecstasy of the soul as will separate it from the body and enable it to contemplate God.
Their sheik, or chief, takes his seat on a carpet, while his followers sit in front of him and repeat passages from the Koran. They then stand and repeat their formula of faith, "La illah," etc., bending forward and backward at each syllable. This recital, which is at first slow, becomes more and more rapid, until you can only distinguish the syllables il and lah. The sheik then stamps his foot, and the Dervishes, growing frantic, quicken their swinging motion, shouting lah, and interposing every now and then the exclamation Hu yia hu, implying "He, O He" (is God). The ninety-nine names or attributes of God are then recited, while the sheik counts the ninety-nine beads of his chaplet.
When the last bead is reached their fury knows no bounds, and, holding each other's hands in a circle, they swing forwards and backwards until they foam at the mouth, and, falling exhausted to the ground, lie in an apparent trance. This they claim to be spiritual ecstasy!
Another sect, the Mevlevis, find this ecstasy in whirling until they sink exhausted. The third Order the Bektashis, who are the most tolerant, maintain that the contemplation of God can be best attained by their carrying out their motto, "Keep thy tongue, thy hand, and thy heart," and by the observance of His precepts.
The Turk is too indolent by nature to care for any sports requiring physical exertion, and he would rather be a spectator than take an active part in them. There is, besides, a feeling among those that have reached the age of manhood, especially if they are holding some Government office, that their dignity would be lowered if they were seen engaged at play.
A very interesting and pretty sport is the djirat. Two companies of horsemen, armed with muffled lances, or in some places the stalks of palm-leaves, give each other chase. The pursuers hurl their missiles when at full speed, and those assailed endeavour to avoid the stroke or to capture the weapon.
Watching ram-fights is a favourite recreation, and crowds gather round the village green to witness these huge creatures, with their long crumpled horns, dashing at each other at full speed. Their heads strike with a resounding thud, and you expect that a skull or two will be broken, but no, it is only fun, and the rams caper gracefully back, to return again to the charge.
Cock-fights are likewise in repute, and in Cyprus a spur is grafted on to the crest of the bird, giving it the appearance of a sort of winged unicorn.
Professional wrestling is much enjoyed. The two contending parties or pehlivans, as they are called, are frequently a negro and a white man; their attire is nothing but a leather pair of drawers. Their bodies are smeared over and made slippery with abundance of olive-oil. The struggle commences by their measuring distances and touching each other's shoulders; then they manœuvre about and dodge each other, and finally come to grips, until the stronger forces his opponent to the ground. Turkish wrestlers are so celebrated that they often find their way to this country.
Another entertainment is the "Shadow Pantomime." This performance consists in throwing shadows of little cardboard figures against a curtain, on the other side of which the spectators are seated. The exhibitors, carefully hidden from sight, work their marionettes with strings and wires, and are clever in making them move and bow, strike each other, and perform all sorts of feats and somersaults, while a ventriloquist makes them carry on the most animated conversation.
Horse-racing is seldom indulged in in Turkey, except among European residents. An effort made several years ago to introduce racing failed, because, it is alleged, foreign jockeys dared to allow their horses to beat the Sultan's stud. Occasionally, however, Turks get up children's races; they strap the youngsters to the saddle, give them the reins, and speed the horses off with a tremendous swipe.
Fox-hunting is not only unheard of, but is prohibited as cruel, and a Spanish bull-fight was attempted last year for the first time, only on the understanding that no blood would be shed.
Football has recently come somewhat into fashion, but it is only occasionally that the real game is played. Departure from rule is preferred to its observance, and often the game consists of mere kicking of the ball from one to another. This is done with great swagger and conceit, but without any of the true sporting dash.
Tennis is played to some extent, and bicycling is fairly popular, but principally because it allows the rider to show off.
There are some keen sportsmen among the Turks; and hunting the wild boar offers lively sport coupled with a zest of danger, as these savage animals, if not killed outright, often turn and rip their assailants with their powerful tusks.
The "gentle art" of fishing is largely indulged in as a recreation, and the Bosphorus yields excellent sport. The favourite fishing there is that of the lufer, which weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and is caught by night, with bright lamps throwing down a beam of light from the boat into the water. A peculiar hook, soldered to a sinker, which is brightened with mercury, is used. Gourmet fishers often take a brazier, with live coals, in the boat, and grill and eat the fish as soon as it is secured.
A HOWLING DERVISH.
Chess—that most antiquated of games—is known under the name of satrach, and differs somewhat from our own, but is as highly scientific. However sceptical we may be about the story in the "Arabian Nights" of the monkey which played chess with a Grand Vizier, I can vouch for the accuracy of one regarding an Armenian banker who played it with Sultan Aziz. The stakes were properties belonging to the Crown, and so successful was the banker that, finally, his landed possessions extended from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.
Backgammon is a favourite game; draughts differs slightly from our own, and there is a peculiar form of it played with pebbles, on a checkered board traced on a stone.
Cards are played to some extent, but as gambling and games of chance are forbidden by the Koran, cards are looked upon with suspicion, and their use discouraged. So also is betting, which ensnares young and old in our own country.
Among games for boys I may mention top-spinning. Turkish tops are made from hard wood, turned in a lathe, and painted with bands of various colours. They are spun with the thumb and the finger, or with a string, and then kept in motion with a whip and cord. A point in the game is to direct the top so that it should bump against the opponent's, and topple it over.
Kite-flying is popular, and in early spring hundreds of kites may be seen flying from the terraces over the house-tops. They are shaped like our own, and are made with bright-coloured paper, with long tails of paper strips. Little splints of wood or cane are attached to the tail for the purpose of entangling and capturing other kites. This is done by manœuvring them about, letting them drop momentarily or rise suddenly, so as to swoop over their adversary and capture it. When these air-ships have boarded, both the fliers pull in the string as rapidly as possible, and it sometimes happens that the vanquished kite is after all the victor.
Hop-scotch is as ancient as the hills, and is played in Turkey in much the same way as with us. So also are marbles and tip-cat, with the same risks, in the case of tip-cat, to the eyes of beholders as in this country.
Walnuts enter largely into the composition of boys' games. One of these consists in rolling them down a sloping board, each boy playing in turn. The person who hits any of the nuts on the floor appropriates all he can gather. The game goes on, each player retiring when his stock of walnuts is exhausted. Another game is that of placing the walnuts in a ring, and throwing (not rolling) other nuts at them from a distance. All displaced walnuts belong to the displacer.
Knifey, or bitchak, as it is called in Turkey, is popular among girls as well as boys. They sit in a circle on the village green, and, placing an open pocket-knife on the back of their hand, throw it up in the air so that it shall on descending stick in the ground. Knuckle-bones is allied to the above, and is played with five bones, as with us, and with much the same variations.
Pendavola, or five pebbles, is the Greek name of knuckle-bones, when played with stones instead of bones. Both the above games date back to remote antiquity, and exist in some form with every nation.
A practice indulged in by boys and young men is that of bird-catching by means of nets, snares, or bird-lime twigs.
In autumn, when Nature shows the first hectic flushes of decay, and birds know that winter will soon be upon them, innumerable flocks traverse the regions around Constantinople on their way south. Quails arrive by scores of thousands, and, exhausted with their flight over the Black Sea, they alight near the mouth of the Bosphorus, and are easily caught in nets, and served on the tables of even the poorest inhabitants.
Smaller birds also, such as bullfinches, goldfinches, and other finches, linnets and the like, are on the wing, and to secure them bird-lime twigs are placed on an isolated tree, or one improvised for the occasion, and a booth is constructed near it, in which boys hide and watch unobserved. Some half-dozen birds of various kinds are tied by the leg to a long string, one end of which is held by the occupants of the booth, and when a flock of birds is seen in the air these decoys are made to rise. Their chirping attracts the attention of the birds overhead, and, alighting on the tree, the great majority are glued to the twigs. The best are put in cages and sold as song-birds; the remainder are killed, and strung with twine through their bills, they are sold for food. Roasted and mixed with pillaf, the national rice dish, they are most savoury.
In contrast to this inhospitable reception of Nature's winged songsters while travelling through the land, it it pleasant to visit the bird-market, and there see venerable Turks opening their purses and buying as many of these captives as they can afford. They then throw open the prison-doors, and as the birds fly skyward with chirps of delight, the faces of the liberators grow radiant with satisfaction.
My list of games and sports is by no means exhausted, but I must close it by referring to stone-throwing, which, although not exactly a game, is in universal practice among boys, and even girls. To such an extent is it carried that dogs attacking you will often disregard a stick, but, remembering their sad experiences with stones, will take to their heels when you stoop to pick up one.
The writer himself still carries a lively impression of a fight carried on with these missiles. The scene of this skirmish, which took place when he was a boy, was near the seashore of a village on the Bosphorus, where he and one or two English boys met a squad of Turkish children. The latter took refuge behind a row of Turkish houses, and stones were thrown by both parties over the roofs. They fell fast and thick from the unseen foe, until at last one, doubtless thrown "at a venture," hit the writer on the head, and made the impression already referred to.
Everybody has heard of Turkish dogs, and I am sure you will consider this book incomplete if I pass them over in silence.
Their origin is shrouded in mystery, but naturalists would probably find them allied to the wolf and the jackal.
Tradition, however, has it that they originated in Tartary, and followed the Mongolians and Turks across the steppes, gorging themselves on the carnage of a thousand battle-fields, and finally settling down with the conquerors.
How much truth there is in this gruesome legend it is impossible to say, but the fact remains that wherever the Turk is found, there, too, the ubiquitous kiopek, or skilo, is seen. Nor does it seem to exist north of Vienna—that outermost ring of Turkish invasion. Dogs, very like skilos, are to be met in Hungary; you have no doubt of their existence when you cross the Danube into Servia; they are numerous in Bulgaria, and you fall into the thick of them when you reach Constantinople, where until recently they were supposed to number 80,000.
In size and appearance they resemble the short-haired Scotch collie, but without the sharpness of nose, and their ears are shorter. With all the instincts of the nomad—unkempt, unkept, and owning no master—their home is the street, where they are born and die, a boon and a bane to mankind. They are the former because they are the scavengers—sometimes the only scavengers—that clean the streets of the refuse thrown into them, and which would otherwise putrefy and breed disease. They are the latter because they collect at night over refuse-heaps, and fight, bark, and yell over the disputed possession of coveted morsels. Their noise disturbs your slumbers and irritates your nerves. Then, lying as they do in the street, you might in the darkness stumble against one, and experience in return something hard and sharp, which would send you howling in your turn.
But skilos do not thrive on refuse alone; they hang about butchers' shops, and are plentiful near the Sultan's palace-kitchens and soldiers' barracks, where remains of food are dispensed to them. At the Ministry of War, in Stamboul, a special man is employed to give them fragments of the soldiers' bread. These he carries in a capacious hamper on his back, and, holding a thick stick in his hand, he proceeds to the public square, where hundreds of dogs await and surround him. His first action is to clear a wide circle with his stick around him, and then he suddenly empties the contents of his hamper. A rush and charge of skilos follows. They tumble over one another in that hissing sea of dogs, but do not seem to mind, provided they can seize a fragment of bread and bolt away. There is strategy, however, even in dogdom, and some, more cunning and fleet-footed than others, do not join in the scrimmage, but quietly await the result at some point of vantage, and, spotting any dog that retires laden with spoil, pursue it, and snatch away its prize.
Yet, with all their habits of the tramp, they seem imbued with a sense of order, and come to an agreement among themselves as to what streets groups of them are to occupy. Woe to the dog that dares to overstep the assigned boundaries. On one condition alone is he allowed to cross through another district—that of lowering his flag—i.e., that he puts his tail under his legs, keeps his head submissively low, and walks in the middle of the street, while all the dogs of the quarter rend the air with their barking.
You must not conclude from what precedes that skilos are devoid of finer feelings and even chivalry. The following incident, related by a friend, regarding one with which I was acquainted, proves the contrary. When a pup, Carabash (black head), as he was called, was picked up in the street, and coddled in a comfortable home. On growing up, he was provided with a kennel in the garden. One frosty morning, when the snow was lying thick on the ground, Carabash was discovered sleeping outside the kennel, which he had surrendered to an emaciated bitch. The intruder was driven away, but next morning was again found in occupancy, and was gruffly expelled. Carabash seemed vexed, and refused to eat his food. On the third morning the strange dog was again found in the kennel, and was this time thrashed out of the premises. She went, like Eve from Paradise, but her Adam followed, took up his residence with her under the shelter of an old tombstone in the Turkish Cemetery, and never again returned to his comfortable home. Their descendants live in the cemetery to this day.
Such romantic incidents would doubtless have met with recognition on behalf of the whole race of dogs in the days of Haroun-al-Raschid, or other heroes of the "Arabian Nights," but the Young Turkey party of to-day are not to be moved by such considerations. They are practical men, and, desiring to cleanse the streets of Constantinople of a recognized nuisance, they decreed the extermination of skilos. But, taking into consideration the Moslem abhorrence of taking away animal life, a curious compromise was made. They were to be banished to a large enclosure at the city walls. A special forceps was invented for the purpose of trapping them, and at dead of night municipal officers gripped the sleeping dogs by the neck or the body, and pitched them into a cart, which conveyed them to their so-called "hotel." Terrible fights occurred there between dogs already in residency and new arrivals, but it frequently happened that kind-hearted Turks waylaid the carts and liberated the captives.
Within their enclosure the dogs were fed and received water at the expense of the State, a grant of £5,000 a year having been voted in Parliament for their maintenance; but soon the space allotted them proved inadequate, and their cries and smells became so horrible that it was decided to move them to another locality.
A little uninhabited island, called Oxya, about fifteen miles from the city, was selected for the purpose, and 30,000 were transported to it. But the island had no water, and the supply of bread was difficult and irregular, and the result was that six months after their transportation only one solitary dog, of which I have the photograph, survived to tell the tale.
Discouraged by their want of success, Government has, I understand, now given up the attempt to exterminate the skilos, and any of my readers who happen to visit Constantinople will probably have the pleasure of forming their acquaintance.
THE GALATA BRIDGE AND THE BAZAARS
An attempt has been made in these pages to conduct the reader over the domains of the Sultan of Turkey, and to introduce him to some of his subjects, but there is perhaps no better place in the world for getting a panoramic view of the various races depicted than on the bridge which spans the Golden Horn, and joins Stamboul with the Galata quarter of Constantinople (see frontispiece). Nor can you find the various products of the Empire exhibited within a more suitable compass than in the bazaars of Stamboul.
It is computed that no less than twenty million persons pass over the bridge in the course of a year—i.e., about 50,000 daily. The races there represented are too numerous to mention. Each wears its distinctive dress, and foot and head gear, and the contrast of design and colour is wonderful, and not limited to women, as in a European crowd. Here comes an Albanian in white petticoats and crimson sash bristling with pistols; there goes an Embassy cavass resplendent in scarlet; there is an Ulema, or high ecclesiastic, with green turban and flowing robes of white, and another dressed in magenta and a white turban; soldiers in khaki or in pale blue come next, and Young Turk officers all spick and span in new uniforms. A Whirling Dervish, with tall, conical, brown head-dress then moves majestically along, followed by a Bedouin, with camel-hair mantle over his shoulders, and silken kerchief over his head. Alongside him is an M.P. from Arabia, with flowing green coat, and white cap with green turban around it, indicating consanguinity with Mahomet. As for representatives of the other sex, you see groups shuffling along in soft yellow boots, and dragging loose overshoes—overshoes which often prove serviceable weapons of attack to any Turkish woman who has been insulted.
The Turkish ladies' dress is frequently bright-coloured, and a white veil is thrown over the head and face, but sometimes the dress itself is used for that purpose. The fashion, however, is prevailing that black should be used, and the women look like silhouettes flitting along.
Should it happen to be a Friday, sounds of military music greet your ear, and you hear the tramp of infantry as the Sultan's soldiers march along to line the streets through which he must pass on his way to mosque.
Nothing can rival the physical appearance, dogged perseverance, and power of endurance of the soldiers streaming before you, and the prancing steeds ridden by the officers excite your admiration.
But another sound, less musical, may disturb your ear, and a horde of half-naked savages appear, carrying on poles what you would call a garden-pump, but which is really a fire-engine. A man carrying the hose-nozzle precedes, and as they tear along, shouting "Sagh ol!" ("Clear out"; literally, "Keep yourself uninjured!"), you imagine a band of maniacs has been let loose.
There is now a regular fire-brigade in Constantinople, available where the streets are wide enough to permit its use, but you will not wonder that under the old system conflagrations sometimes destroyed thousands of houses at a time, and still do so in quarters where the streets are too narrow and the houses of wood.
Ambulating vendors of all sorts are also to be found on the bridge, advertising their goods in loud falsetto notes, or sometimes singing metrical eulogies over them. Hamals, and porters, too, of every description, are there, conveying their burdens, and Turkish sailors, whose duty it is to police the bridge, while at either end are men clad in long white shirts, without pockets, to collect the toll, and not pocket it. And as if to connect the new with the old order of administration, a motorbus, with the words "Progres" emblazoned upon it, traverses the bridge with passengers, while British-built steamers moor on pontoons attached to the bridge, and convey travellers to the villages of the Bosphorus and other suburbs.
Crossing the bridge, you arrive at Stamboul, the Turkish quarter, and enter into a long street, arched over, and with numerous windows. It is called the Missir Tcharchi, or Egyptian Spice Bazaar, owing to the drugs and spices sold in it. It is dark and badly ventilated; its odours overpower you, but you see there a display of drugs and perfumes never dreamt of before, and gathered from all parts of the empire. Each shop within the bazaar is known by its special sign—a ship, a broom, a bird's-cage, the model of a mosque, a flag, bows and arrows, and so on—while its occupant sits, like a spider in his den, inviting you into his parlour.
Among the articles offered are musk and seraglio pastilles, frankincense, cedar-wood, and other perfume-emitting substances which Turks delight in throwing on the brazier to scent their apartments; otto of roses, produced in Bulgaria, rose-water, patchuli, jessamine, and other native fragrant oils, with which to perfume their person. Rouge, native hair-dyes, and henna for improving the complexion, painting the eyebrows until they meet, or staining the nails and finger-tips; corrosive sublimate, that deadly poison, for giving a flash to the eye; red and black pepper, and all sorts of condiments; seeds of the "love-in-the-mist" to protect yiaourt and pastry from the evil-eye; gum mastic from the island of Chio, which women love to chew and chew for hours, and children to blow into bubbles; herbal and quack medicines of all kinds, and even gall-stones from an ass to renew the vigour of youth. Nearer the sea are several streets, roofed with glass, called the Yemish, or fruit-bazaar, where dried fruits and nuts of every description are to be found. Among its peculiarities are fruit-pastes of plum, apricot, quince, mulberry, etc., which have been mashed, sun-dried, and rolled into thin long sheets; grape-juice, thickened with flour; unfermented grape-treacle; and honey from Angora, unrivalled for the whiteness of its comb.
The Wood-turners' bazaar gives you an insight into the native method of turning, which is performed with a bow in one hand and a chisel in the other, while the big toe supplies a third hand for holding the object in position. The Brass-turners' bazaar provides you with samovars, or special brass urns, for boiling water and preparing tea, and mangals, or braziers, for holding ignited charcoal to warm houses.
The main bazaars consist of a labyrinth of streets and alleys, arched over with masonry, and pierced with numerous domes from which the light enters. They extend over a surface of more than a mile, and their windings are so intricate that a traveller may easily lose his way.
Articles of every description, new and old, may be found there. Whole streets, for instance, are reserved for boots, shoes, and slippers of all kinds, shapes, and colours: soft yellow ones for Turkish women; patent-leather ones, with overshoes, for men; red shoes with turned-up points for Anatolians; sandals for Albanians; Parisian ones for those dressed à la Française; slippers of softest native tanned leather; slippers embroidered with seed-pearls and jewels, etc. Another street is reserved for silks from Brusa, Damascus, Syria, etc., another for pipes, hubble-bubbles, amber mouthpieces etc. Another, styled Manchester Street, is stocked with cotton prints, of flashy colours and designs, made specially for the East.
In the heart of the bazaar is the bezesten, an inner bazaar, with gorgeous carpets from all parts of the land, diamonds, pearls, turquoises, and all manner of precious stones; old armour, antiquities, curios, and relics of all kinds.
But the muezzim's cry now reverberates through the bazaar; the sun is setting, and the gates are to be closed. You rise to depart, but the crowds, the sights, the colours, the noises, the smells, the various costumes around—these will be there on the morrow as they have been in the past, and they will still in the future allure and charm all those who come in contact with the bewitching East.
BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD
LIST OF VOLUMES IN THE PEEPS AT MANY LANDS AND CITIES SERIES
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