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A market place in the Ottoman Empire: Avrat Pazari and its surroundings.


In the Ottoman Empire, the bazaars were considered among the mast important places in a city. Here the appearance of people from various levels reflected the pluralistic side of the Ottoman society. On the other hand, bazaar areas, such as Avrat Pazari (the Women's Market) in Konya or Bartin were those areas where women also could be present and contributed to the commercial activities. Because Ottoman women's relationship with the communal spaces remained limited, Avrat Pazari was an important urban area for the spatial perception of women.

Women's relationship with the public spaces could be summarized in two aspects: Women who used the space, and women who sponsored the construction of architectural works. The only means of space creation for women in the Classical Period could be by beneficiary facilities, such as a foundation of religious kulliyes. Royal women, such as the mother, wives or daughters of the Sultan might initiate a waqf in order to contribute to social life for Allah's sake. In doing this, they proposed to raise their prestigious status and to be remembered eternally by the pious. These charity works in Istanbul Haseki Complex played an important role. Before its construction there were some waqf works built by other female benefactors, such as Keyci Hatun, Gulbahar Hatun or Gevher Sultan, and probably provided for female users.

Another area for women was the Avrat Pazari in the district, where the shops or removable desks took place. The bazaar once occupied the farmer Byzantine Forum of Arcadius, which was a large square on the imperial street, Mese, until the sixteenth century. The Forum also included the Column of Arcadius, where historical war scenes were carved. When the city views from the 15th and 16th centuries are investigated the various transformations, the Forum survived could be perceived. For example, Matrakci Nasuh's Istanbul map reflects the architectural development of this part of the capitol, depicting the shops and domed buildings next the Arcadius Column.

Although the Avrat Pazari does not exist today, its remains could be traced up until the 1912s. In the 19th century maps, not only the bazaar area, but also neighboring public and religious buildings, the street pattern and the environment were extant.

To conclude the Haseki district, including the Avrat Pazari, acquired its urban identity through the architectural works of the benefactors who were mostly women. Through this effort, women founders acquired prestigious status and on immortal name on the one hand, and on the other hand, the district oppeared as on area where the public works for women were varied and enriched.

Osmanli Imparatorlugu nda kentlerin en onemli bilesenlerinden biri carsilardir. Burada toplumum cesitli kesimlerine ait kisiler alisveris yaparak Osmanli toplumun cogulcu yapisini yansitirlar. Imparatorlugun cesitli yerlerinde (Konya, bartin) bulunan Avrat Pazarlari ise daha cok kadinlarin alis ve satis yapabildikeri yelerdir. Osmanli kadininin kamusal mekanla iliskisi oldukca kisitli bulundugundan, Avrat Pazarlari Kadinlarin kentsel mekani algilamasinda onemli yer tutar.

Osmanli kadinin kamusal mekanla iliskisi iki cephede gozlenebilir. Birinci cephede mekani kullanan kadinlar ve ikincisinde mekanin yaratilarinin ve kulliyelerin yapiminda kadinlarin rolu on plana cikmaktadir. Padisahin ailesine mensup veya toplumum ust katmaninda bulunan Valide Sultanlar, Haseki Sultanlar ve padisahin kizlari yaptirdikiari hayir eserleri nedeniyle, toplumsal yararin yanisira, hem padisah ailesinin kadinlarina presitij kazandirmayi, hem de adlarini olusuz kilmayi amaclarlar. Bu nedenle kurulumus eserler arasinda Haseki Kulliyesi Istanbul semtleerinde onemli bir yer tutmaktadir. Kulliye nin kurulusu ile birlikte burada daha once Keyci Hatun, Gulbahar Hatun, Gevher Sultan gibi kadinlar tarafindan kurulan ve yine kadinlara yonelik oldugu sanilan diger hayir kurumlari da on plana cirmistir.

Bolgede yine kadinlara yonelik kurulmus, bir diger alan da Avrat Pazari'dir. Bu Pazar yeri gerek sabit dukkanlari, gerekse tasinabilir tezgahlari ile cevrede bulu nan semt saminlerine yonelik bir ticari alandir. Kapladigi alan Bizons donemi'ne ait Eski Arkadius Forumu'dur. Bizand doneminin imparatorluk Caddesi olan Mese yoly uzerinde bulunan buyuk alanlardan biri olan Arkadios Forumu, 16. Yuzyila dek Arkodios Sutununu da iceren genis bir meydan kimligindeydi. istanbul'un 15. ve 16. Yuzyilina dair Osmanli oncesi ve sonrasi duzenlenen haritalara bakildiginda forumun gecirdigi osamalar da gozlenmektedir. Ornegin Matrakci Nasuh'un istanbul haritasinda sutunun bitisiginde yer alan dukkanlar ve kubbeli binalar buradaki mimari gelismenin de habercisidir.

Avrat Pazari bugun mevcut olmanakla birlikte, izleri 1912 lere kadar uzanabilmistir. 19. Yuzyila ait haritalarda Avrat Pazari'nin kapladigi alanin yanisira, cevresinde bulunan kamusal-dini yapilar, sokak dokusu ve pazarin kent icindeki konumu gozlenebilmektedir.

Sonuc olarak, Avrat Pazari'ni da iceren Haseki Mahallesi, kadin girisimcilerin kurduklari mimari eserlerle kimlik kazanan ve boylece hem bu kisilerin adlarinin kalici olmasi hedeflenen, hem de istanbul'da kadinlara yonelik mamusal mekanlarin zenginlesmesini ve cesitlenmesini saglayan bir alan olarak karsimiza cikmaktadir.

Introduction: Women's Social Life in the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century was regarded by strict regulations of society. Religious codes of Islam organized the social classes, religious beliefs, social genders status in daily life, according to a hierarchical order. Religious rules differentiated the Muslim, Christian and Jewish people. Every professional group, even the marginal layers of the society belonged to a certain guild, a fact that reinforced the authority of ruling elites. The servants of the Ottoman palace were completely segregated from ordinary people whose mentality and way of life were opposites. (1)

Also man and woman lived in separate spiritual worlds where the woman occupied only a small area for improving or expressing her personality. The life of the Ottoman woman was programmed nearly at birth. At the age of fourteen or fifteen her marriage was arranged. She was expected to fulfill her marital duties, to bear many children and to raise them. The best years of her life began as an elder. She could reach a higher status within the larger family where sons and grandsons obeyed her rules. The mother of the patriarchal family was considered as the secret patron of the house. (2)

This article is a study of Turkish woman's relationship with her enclosed area by exemplifying the market street, Avrat Pazari. Avrat Pazari was a commercial street in Istanbul, where among sellers and customers were women. The article also investigates the bazaars' position in its environment and within the historical urban pattern.

Woman's Spatial Boundaries in the Sixteenth Century

The definition how the Ottoman women perceived space could be viewed in two ways: women as space creators and women as space users. As architects in the Empire worked at the status of engineer and artisan, it was beyond imagination that a woman could be directly involved in the construction process. The only involvement with space creation for women in the Classical Period was through beneficiary facilities, such as the foundation of religious kulliyes. Royal women, such as the mother, wives or daughters of the Sultan might initiate a waqf in order to contribute to social life for Allah's sake. Through this effort they tried to escape from the fate of anonymity. Female members of the Sultan's family founded charity works, such as the mosque, medrese, primary school, hospital, fountain or bath for the public use. These buildings were named after their nickname and status. Mimar Sinan built two mosques for Mihrimah Sultan, Suleyman's daughter. Suleyman's wife, Hurrem Sultan initiated a religious complex in Ista nbul and works in Mekka, Medina and Jerusalem.

Other religious buildings, such as Yeni Valide Cami'i or Yeni Cami'i reflected women's contribution to the growth of the city. In the second half of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries Istanbul's urban pattern continuously changed, as the complexes appeared as the nucleus of the mahalle establishment, displaying focal points for the population. However, the shift in the pattern was a result of the Mehmed ll's urban politics. The contribution of the women founders was probably the inner composition of buildings in the complex. Later, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries palaces around the Bosphorus were re-founded and furnished by female members of the Ottoman court?

The Ottoman woman, as user, had a limited physical space to live in. For example, she could rarely exit the house. The traditions gave the right to woman only to visit the public bath outside of the house freely, while the other outside activities depended on the husband's permission. The 'outside' and the 'inside' were strictly separated in everyday life. The outer area, especially the public area, was considered as a place of insecurity. Woman could face various threats and dangers. According to the traditional belief, she was weak, naive and could easily be deceived. Therefore, she also tended towards immorality. Ottoman woman were not allowed to visit anywhere, except for the public bath. In short, the 'outside' belonged to the men, and it was generally closed to women. Upper class ladies in Istanbul wholeheartedly accepted these limits, and they never voluntarily went 'outside' alone. For security reasons many preferred to stay at home for most of their lives. They might use the private bath of the 'kona k' and had numerous relatives and servants at home, and never felt the necessity to face the outside world. Women were allowed to visit close relatives or friends, accompanied by servants. She might appear 'outside' for social activities, such as weddings or other social events with other women, however going to bazaar might also be tolerated by the husband. (4)

On the contrary, the house as the 'inside,' offered a kind of micro cosmos to women. There she could find her peace and comfort, reflections of her existence. The upper class woman possessed female slaves, numerous servants and those who accompanied her. She could organize there whatever entertainment she wished. Small groups of dancing and singing girls were invited to the house. She was also free to decorate the house according to her taste. Traders of precious textiles could come to the house to exhibit the goods. Ladies often possessed a private bath at the konak, so that they remained away from middle or lower class women. The upper class usually imitated Palace life.

The contrast between the 'outside' and inside' was reflected by the arrangement of large konaks. Such as the differentiation within the Imperial Palace's organization, 'Enderun', 'Birun' and 'Harem', the konak should include 'Selamlik' and 'Harem' parts. Selamlik was the office where only men could meet and talk about business and relevant issues, often on a formal basis. The building was built as a separate part of the house, so that guests had no possible contact with the house. On the other hand, the harem was almost synonymous with the families introverted life. Within the konak it was not only the space, peculiar to women, it included also all the daily life and rooms occupied by women (mother, wives, unmarried sisters), children, other relatives, long-term guests and servants. The head of the family always remained at the focus of the Harem life.

As the Ottoman women's visit to communal spaces was limited we could only look at certain occasions the women shared the public area. As pointed out above, a woman occasionally went out from the house. Servants who carried the goods accompanied ladies from upper class. The street she walked on was narrow and access to see other places in the city was limited. Woman on the street could go in the carriages, especially if she belonged to the upper class. With the curtains pulled across the openings, there was no possibility to see the lady inside. Traveling on a boat with a man was strictly forbidden for woman. That she left the mahalle or close neighborhood area was rare. Woman probably assumed that the entire world consisted of the mahalle and close surroundings. Her knowledge of the world was naive, nearly childish. Therefore, it is not difficult to guess that her experiences on space remained just as limited and superficial. However, this did not mean that women were not curious of others' life and living sp aces. Because they did not find any possibility to explore through experiences, she would suffice with popular sayings, gossip and tales told in the city. Inheriting many superstitions from the Byzantine time, Ottoman men and women could 'discover' the mysteries of Istanbul through these imaginative tales. Evliya Celebi gives many examples on Istanbul's mysterious corners.

One of the rare occasions that woman could socialize occurred in the public bath. Because Muslim law allowed for regular visits to the bath, she could meet with relatives, friends or neighbors. Stories were told here; music, dance or ceremonies were spontaneously organized in the public bath. We can compare the women's bath with men's coffeehouses where he shared his individual space with others. Men had certainly more opportunity to visit other communal spaces. On the squares, for example, men of various ages, religion and class could be seen. Cerasi notes that there was a strong tendency in the Ottoman society to share the public open space and to spend time together. (5) However, the 'public space' always remained the domain of men. Bazaars, on the other hand, was primary place of 'sociability', where a pluralistic society meet, such as the Covered Bazaar in Istanbul (Kapalicarsi) that attracted women's attention from various levels.

The centralization tendency of the commercial spaces in the eighteen-century led the inhabitants to visit the market area in central urban places. People could not reach the goods in their enclosed neighborhood areas. Khoury points out that local religious foundations challenged with religious monuments in the central urban areas in Ottoman Aleppo. Considering the small workshops, mosques and coffeehouses, the local character of the neighborhood area ceased to vanish. Men preferred to stay in the central market areas for longer durations. Another result was that women's existence in communal spaces might be distinguished from the center. (6) However, in the case of Hungarian towns, for example, it is observed that the centrality of the market area, i.e. fairs, resulted in a mare civilized manner among men and women. According to a 17th century traveler, Heinrich Ottendorf, intercultural encounters during the great fair season in Osijek (today in Croatia) encouraged Ottoman men to behave politely towards women . Therefore, men in this town did not strictly control their wives. (7)

Travelers to the Ottoman Empire noticed that no women never appeared as seller in the open markets. An observer from the eighteenth century, D'Ohsson says that no woman shopkeepers were to be encountered in any Moslem city. In the same way no women vendors were to be seen in the streets or squares. The only women going around the city, as vendors, were the women peddlers, the bohcaci, who could sell textiles by visiting large kanaks or palaces. (8)

However, exceptions could also be seen. Circumstances forced the ordinary women from the rural districts or urban settlements to earn money, if they lived alone or without any income. Most common facilities were basic manufacturing and trading of textiles. The guilds, such as in Ankara, were not willing to accept women as manufacturer. Farouqhi states that those women who tried to found a workshop of textiles was better to organize it at home. On the other hand, the wife of the artisan might also be involved in the textile manufacturing process. (9) Women specialized in fine embroidery were free to sell goods to the Harem or elite women. In the seventeenth century there was a bazaar in Bursa where women could sell their handmade textiles from which they were exempted from the tax. (10)

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the central market area was still open to women's production, such as cotton textiles/ (11) Women who were in the position of trader or seller were considered as 'marginal' by society. (12) We could draw the conclusion that those rare examples, such as women's position as shopkeeper or vendor, could contribute to a perception of space. It was also known that rural or lower class women could often benefit the communal areas. In Uskudar, on the Anatolian side, rural women used to ride goods to the bazaar.

The Tradition of Avrat Pazari

Women rarely found occasions to sell their products in open bazaars such as Avrat Pazari. These bazaars can be observed in various parts of Anatolia. For example, in Bartin the tradition still survives as 'Kadmlar Pazari.' Also, in Konya it is said that this kind of market place was in use until recent times and a mahalle was called 'Avrat Pazari. (13) Goods brought to market places were mostly local products, especially from villages in the vicinity.

Komurciyan (1637-1695), an eyewitness of the seventeenth century lists various weekly bazaars in and around Istanbul. They all specialized on certain products. The markets rarely included shops, and generally they consisted of removable desks. Friday bazaars were founded in Uskudar, Edirnekapi, Mustafapasa (around Sulumanastir) and Kasimpasa. The latter was a popular market for textiles. As Friday was the off day for working people in Islamic countries, the bazaars were probably directed to Muslim customers. Alipasa and Kulaksiz (around Kasimpasa) were Saturday bazaars. On Sunday the Avrat Pazari, on Monday Macuncu and on Tuesday Sali Pazari were organized. On Thursday the sellers who specialized in liquid medicines (serbetci) met in Galata. (14)

Market places, including Avrat Pazari, appeared as exceptional examples that enlarged the Ottoman women's limited spatial freedom. (15) As mentioned above, Avrat Pazari was a commercial street. The sellers and customers were women. These markets were generally areas where essential products for living were sold. Usually organized on a large square, two rows of shops were aligned on each side of the street. Cabins were usually erected from ready-made materials, e.g. wood, easy to construct and removable. Certain goods would especially attract the interest of women, such as henna, candlesticks, slippers or pharmacy and were sold from tables. According to Evliya Celebi three hundred shopkeepers were active on the market. (16)

Istanbul's Avrat Pazari was an open market area in the Haseki district. Unlike large fairs, held in centers such as Osijek, or unlike commercial areas such as the Covered Bazaar, Avrat Pazari, as a traditional market place had the local character. Rural women, who brought their local products and those who came to buy goods at a fair price, could meet here. A miniature painting in the archive of the Correr Museum, Venice, from the seventeenth century (Figure. 1) displays the atmosphere in the weekly market. Considering the column that is depicted, it can be assumed that the market must be Avrat Pazari. (17) Men and women came together on the street to weigh goods, buy and sell different products, such as flowers, ducks, home-made cakes, fruits etc. It can be assumed that women with covered faces in the miniature are Muslim. However, there is also an unveiled woman, whose mouth and nose could be seen.

Because its name relates to women, the Avrat Pazari always recalled slave markets in Istanbul. However, the slave market was not directly connected with the bazaar. The Circassian and Georgian female slaves were put onto the market at the Bayram Pasa Han. Bayram Pasa served during the reign of Murad IV. (1623-1640), and he died during the Baghdad campaign. He was buried in the tomb he built in Cerrahpasa. (18)

Avrat Pazari's Location in Istanbul

The bazaar was within the boundary of the Haseki Mahallesi. It covered an area between the Cerrahpasa and Davud Pasa neighborhoods (mahalle). Following the conquest, Davud Pasa founded this religious complex. (19) In order to provide income for a charity foundation Davud Pasa opened some shops which formed the basis of the bazaar. The former Arcadius Forum provided an available area for such a commercial enterprise. Several catastrophes occurred in the district. Earthquakes in 1633 and 1660 damaged the Column of Arcadius. This changed the shape of the Roman forum. In 1757 the great fire destroyed the bazaar. Thereafter it probably gained a stable character. In the nineteenth century a roof was built over the shops. (20) When the roof was removed the shops stood alone and it was said the bazaar lost its architectural characteristics. Avrat Pazari survived until 1912. The original situation of the market area remains uncertain. Sources, such as illustrations and maps or historical texts shows the market's origi nal place within the urban pattern, as well as the architectural relationship with the Haseki complex, neighboring streets and buildings in the vicinity. Before continuing with the Avrat Pazari's position in Ottoman Istanbul, let us examine its former place in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

During the Roman era Istanbul had several forums on the imperial street, Mese. They were: Forum Constantine, Forum Tauri, Forum Bous or Bovis and finally Forum Arcadius. The latter, named according to the Column of Arcadius, symbolized the successful wars of the Roman Emperors, Theodosius and his son Arcadius. It was approximately 47 meters high. The statue of Arcadius was placed on top of the column. Although the column was damaged by earthquake during the Byzantine period, it maintained its position until the 18th century. (21) The Column of Arcadius was later named as 'Avrat Tasi' (the stone of woman) due to its location next to Avrat Pazari. Similar to the Forum Tauri or Forum Bovis, the Arcadius Forum symbolised the Roman character of the city. It stand where Mese turned southwestward, towards the imperial Golden Gate (Porta Aurea), the ultimate point of the city next to the Marmara Sea shore. (22)

On the miniature mentioned above, the Column of Arcadius on a large pedestal appears as the main figure. According to the traditional hierarchy in Ottoman miniatures we can draw the conclusion that the column as the main figure dominates all the area. Although the figures display the Roman war scenes, the miniature probably represents an interpretation of the Ottoman artist. When we compare the figures from the travel book of Petrus Gyllius (1490-1555), printed in 1561, the scenes mostly include riding, standing and walking groups of soldiers with long weapons. (23) On the base, on the upper side groups of nobles, in the middle, soldiers and finally near the bottom dead people are observed. However on the miniature, figures without any weapon are seen in the sitting position, such as listening to a preacher at the tekke. Another interesting figure on the relief is a man who fills a wheeled cannon with a cannonball. Also a long ship in the manner of paintings on Iznik tiles, a single fish symbolizing the Chris tianity and a dark horse without the rider are figures probably imagined by the Ottoman artist. We can observe another figure on the miniature, a mosque with the minaret in the background, presumably the Haseki Camii and its outer walls made of iron fences. (24) In the Roman period the seventh hill was named Xerolophos (the dry hill). According to Gyllius the twelfth district included the Golden Gate, the Porticos of Troas, Forum of Theodosius, Harbor of Theodosius and the Column of Arcadius. (25)

Some other columns, such as those belonging to Theodosius, the younger, Valentinianus and Marcianus once existed near the Column of Arcadius, however earthquakes destroyed them all. The column could be compared with another one built later. Until the age of Justinianus, who planned to rebuild the capital, the Forum of Theodosius was decorated with high columns and sculptures. They were all destroyed, and according to Procopius, the history writer of the Justinianus Era, and the Emperor erected a new column bearing his statue dressed as Achilles. The figure pointed a finger towards the East, probably towards the Persians, and carried a small globe in his hand symbolizing his domination on the world. Although it survived the Latin conquest (1204) the statue was destroyed by a storm in 1316. (26) Forum Constantine, the third forum on the Mese was built on the old necropolis and formed a central meeting place for the citizens. The Column, called Cemberlitas today, carried the figure of Emperor Constantine, repres ented as Apollon Helios, a symbol for Christianity, especially considering Neo-Platonic philosophy. (27) Forum Bovis, according to Gyllius, was probably named according to Bovis Locus (The Place of Ox), which was the sculpture of an ox, and reminiscent of horrible tortures of history. Gyllius provides another explanation for the monuments 'raison d'etre' which would be the imperial taste of decoration enriched by the trophies from distant lands. (28) There was also a sculpture of a Roman personality, called Eleuterius, probably dated to 4th century. Another meaning for the Forum was that it took place near the harbor where grain was imported. (29)

In short, during the Byzantine period Istanbul was decorated with imperial columns, which dominated the surroundings, in order to reinforce the image of the monument by contrast with the vertical and the horizontal lines of perception. The Ottomans were not directly against the columns. They obviously considered them as reminiscent of the Byzantine heritage. Sometimes they admired them as a magnificent work of art, or attributed to them mystical power, and they repaired them when necessary. (30) However, considering other parts of the Empire, there are examples of Turkish administrators who were not this tolerant towards the historical columns. Maktul Ibrahim Pasa, the grandvisier of Sultan Suleyman II brought some columns with sculptures from the Palace of the Hungarian Kings in Budin to his palace. It is said to transfer the symbols of monarchy (a challenge against the Sultan), was one of the reasons that finally brought his end. (31)

After the conquest of Lefkosa (1570), on the other hand, the Venetian column in the middle of the city was removed, although not destroyed, and British colonial rulers put it back on its place. (32) After 1453, the Byzantine image of Istanbul was transformed into the Ottoman way of life. The city was nearly deserted. In the first twenty years, however, large construction projects occurred in the city. Two imperial palaces (the Old and New), Yedikule Fortress for the Treasury, the Grand Covered Bazaar, the large religious complex founded by Mehmed II and other kulliyes of viziers and finally the neighborhood settlements around the charity buildings facilitated the repopulation of the city. (33) Mehmed II planned to revitalize Istanbul's social and economic life, and he encouraged his viziers to build kulliyes in the historic peninsula. The religious complexes, as a social infrastructure, would be the nuclei of neighborhood settlements where Anatolian people immigrated. Forums, one by one, were replaced by reli gious structures. Mahmud Pasa, one of the viziers of Mehmed II built his religious complex on the Forum of Constantine. Forum Bovis was converted to a residential district, where the people of Aksaray in Caramania, emigrated. Bayezid II Complex occupied the third forum, Tauri (Theodosius).

Also Avrat Pazari displaced the Forum Arcadius, but without replacing the column. Following the urbanization program of Mehmed II, Davud Pasa, the vizier during the age of Bayezid II, decided to build his kulliye around Mese. The religious complex of Davud Pasa included a mosque, medrese and primary school (1482-92). As mentioned above, all these waqf works should be funded by a commercial organization. Therefore, he fostered the building of 108 shops in a row where goods from the neighboring villages were transported. (34) Kuban states that it was still possible to find such a site for the marketplace in the late fifteenth century. (35) Before Avrat Pazari's foundation, this part of istanbul was always associated with certain woman benefactors. The tradition of women's works extended probably to the Byzantine times (According to the Byzantine sources, there used to be a statue of Goddess Artemis from the Roman Period) but we know at least two women who built their religious buildings there during the Ottoman period. The first was Keyci Hatun (or Keci Hatun) who lived during the reign of Mehmed II (1451-81) and who founded a mesjid in the district. Therefore, the settlement area around the mesjid was called 'Keci Hatun Mahallesi.' The mesjid, in the nineteenth century, was situated on Haseki Street, in front of the Kasim Aga School. (36) The catastrophes, such as the great fire of Cibali-Fatih-Altimermer (1918) completely demolished the mahalle establishment, and it damaged the settlement pattern of the early Ottoman period in this area, so we hardly have any information about the architectural works. It is assumed that other mahalle names were due to the religious buildings founded in the district. For example, Nevbahar Mahallesi and Selcuk Hatun Tekkesi probably dated back to the 15th century. (37) According to the map published by Ayverdi, Nevbahar Mosque was between Seyh Taha Tekkesi and Basci Haci Mahmud Dergahi. (Figure.2) Another building by a woman benefactor was Gevher Sultan Medresesi. (38) Today there are only small remains of these buildings.

Avrat Pazari acquired its character during the 16th century. The wife of Suleyman the Magnificent, Hurrem Sultan decided to found a charity complex near the area, as seen on the background of the anonymous miniature. Hurrem (Roxalane) who reached the Haseki rank was known to be from Russian origin. As the Ottoman Empire enjoyed its peak of military success during the age of Suleyman, she also exerted power within the Seraglio. (39)

Before the construction of the Haseki Complex the district was called the 'Basci Haci Mahmud' area, and included a mesjid and a tekke or dergah. Ayverdi map shows that the small mosque and dergah of Basci Haci Mahmud were very close to the Haseki imaret. The last remains from the old complex were a small fountain on a square next to Guzel Sebzeci Street (19th century Sebzevatci Street) and Dellak Baba's Tomb. (40) Haseki Hurrem Sultan commissioned an architect for her kulliye. This was the chief architect Acem isa who probably created the first plan of the mosque and first foundation of the medrese and soup kitchen for the poor. (41) A hospital (darrussifa) and a primary school (sibyan mektebi) formed other components of the complex. However, it is said that she was not satisfied with the architect's performance and soon the task was given to Mimar Sinan who built his first religious work in Halep, the Husrev Pasa Kulliye. Sinan completed the Haseki Mosque in 1538-39, the Medrese 1539-40, and the Hospital in 1550-1557. However Kuran stresses that Suleyman financed the soup kitchen for the poor, and he charged Sinan for other important projects, so the architect did not directly undertake the kitchens construction. (42) Moreover, the general layout of the complex was not attributed to Mimar Sinan. As an experienced architect he might contribute to the design of single buildings, such as mosque, medrese and hospital, but lack of totality and weakness of composition, criticized by historians, is evidence that the design of the complex was created before Sinan. (43) The benefactor probably chose the area with the aim of founding social services. One could also trace the reason behind the foundation of an imperial hospital because of the Black Death.

The infection threatened the capital in the mid-16th century, as the famous Austrian ambassador Baron Busbecq pointed out. (44) Whatever the idea behind the foundation might be, the octagonal courtyard of the hospital represents Mimar Sinan's creation. The entrance of the building is an elongated trapezoid on its northern corner, which hinders, staring at the patients inside. In the 19th century the hospital was turned to a lunatic asylum for women, and even to a prison for female prisoners.

Avrat Pazari According to the Ottoman and European Drawings

Although the bazaar does not exist today, historical sources give hints of the reconstruction. The fifteenth century artists, before the conquests, generally failed to indicate certain details about the last years of the Byzantine period. Buondelmonti drew one of the schematic maps of Byzantine Istanbul around 1420's. (45) Along the Mese, the columns on each Forum could be observed clearly. The column of Arcadius is represented here as close to the Lycos River near Forum Bovis. Although the open area is visible on the drawing, it is understood that no large building was constructed around the monument. Another image of the early 15th century Istanbul belongs to Hartman Schadel's 'Liber Chronicarum' (printed 1493), which hardly gives any information about the Column's Byzantine situation. On the other hand, Bertrandon de la Brocquiere's birds-eye-view of Istanbul under the Ottoman siege is imaginary and unreliable, as it represents Hagia Sophia as a Gothic Church. (46) Hawever, the late 15th century illustrato rs were more successful at representation of the Ottoman capital's new face. Vavassore's drawing was published as to inspire other illustrators of later periods. (47) In this wooden engraving the city was depicted from above, and many monuments were indicated as symbolical. The Arcadius Forum and its surroundings can be identified here through the column, surrounded by a wall, rectangular in plan. There are narrow streets and open areas between the residential quarters. Considering also the symbolic drawing technique of the Vavassore map, it can be assumed that the Forum of Arcadius was not yet affected by the construction in 1480's. The large complex of Mehmed the Conqueror and the old and new palaces on the drawing signal the changing pattern of the Ottoman period. Later drawings of this kind, such as Giovanni Francesco Camacia's scene (1566-1574), Theophilum Urbinum's scene (1664) and 'Thesaurus Exaticorium' dated to 1688, as inspired by Vavassore, do not display additional information about the situation around the Arcadius Column.

Also, Schweigger notes the Column of Arcadius on his map, as 'die Saul mit Historien' (the column with historical scenes. (48) Dillich's map (1556), on the other hand, clearly shows the column of Arcadius on the seventh hill (Figure.3), where a large square, surrounded by a residential quarter and religious buildings, are indicated. (49)

When we look at the Ottoman illustrations we can also find certain information about the Avrat Pazari's environment. Matrakci Nasuh's illustration of Istanbul as a 16th century miniature (50) was prepared in 1537 after Suleyman's Campaign to Iraq (1533-36). According to Matrakci's iconographical technique (Figure.4), Arcadius Column is depicted with major buildings around it. On the left side of the column there exists a building with double domes which is obviously a public bath. A mosque, accompanied by a slender minaret, was probably the Davud Papa Mosque, can also be traced with its three-domed portico and a main dome. There is another building on the left hand side; a medrese separated into two inner courtyards (described as 'Double Medrese' by Denny) raises some questions. The structure has a small courtyard at the entrance looks like a subsidiary building and a large gate opens to the first part of the inner garden. According to its orientation this building might be the medrese of the Davud Pasa Compl ex. Another possibility might be that it denotes the Haseki Medrese or imaret, which must have been nearly completed at that time. (51) On the right side, a three part building with a timber roof probably represents a group of houses or an Ottoman neighborhood area (mahalle). A row of shops under the column apparently indicates a commercial area or a market. Visual description of commercial buildings or workshops at the scenes of Matrakci are generally of one-store building with several openings and a timber roof. On the upper part of the Column a larger structure with oriental type windows represents another commercial area. The shops next to the Column might relate to those of Davud Pasa founded in the late fifteenth century. The area was next to the Column and it could also define the old Roman forum. Another Ottoman miniature from the Istanbul map belongs to Hunername (Figure. 5), prepared by Nakkas Osman and his companions in 1584-85. (52) In this depiction, the Column of Arcadius is again evident, and t he row of shops nearby shown by Matrakci is represented by means of the same technique.

A modern representation of the area can be observed from the 1882 map published by E. H. Ayverdi. Here historical buildings and the street pattern are indicated. (53) Since the map represents the situation before the great earthquake in 1890's and before the Cibali fire in 1918 we can perceive the original Ottoman pattern on the site. Here Haseki Imareti with the mosque, soup kitchen, primary school, medrese and hospital could be seen clearly. The Haseki Mosque was close to the Tomb of Bayram Pasa and Tekke, Mekteb and Medrese. The Basci Haci Mahmud Complex and Nevbahar Mosque remain on the northern part of the Haseki Kulliye. Avrat Pazari was probably on the Davud Pasa Mahallesi Street that separated Haseki and Bayram Pasa complexes. However, the street pattern was obviously different from the time when the Haseki Complex was erected. In 1890 the mosque remained on one side of the street and the subsidiary buildings on the other side. On this street there were also open spaces that allowed for temporary mark et places and workshops. According to the description of Isli, Dellak Baba's Tomb was probably the unidentified building on the corner at the beginning of Molla Gurani Sokak. There are small cul-de-sacs on the Davud Pasa Street, which extends towards the Davud Pasa Medresesi.

Today the basic pattern of streets still keeps its characteristics, but some buildings and small cul-de-sacs are no longer present. Sebzevatci Street from Ayverdi map is today called the Guzel Sebzeci Sokak. Similarly, Davud Pasa Mahallesi Caddesi is changed to Hekimoglu Ali Pasa Caddesi. However, Nevbahar Mahallesi, reminisant of the Nevbahar Hatun Mosque survives. Little remains of the Avrat Pazari which could still be observed. According to isli, one or two shops with arches exist next to the square of the Dellak Baba's tomb, so that all shops were arranged according to the 'agora' plan. Another researcher, Nimet Taskiran, declares that the shops were in total seventeen, as four of them were destroyed long before. (54) On the other hand, Dethier noted that in nineteenth century Istanbul there was a workshop of an ironsmith next to the Arcadius Column ruin; he could climb up the column from the roof of the workshop. (55)


Avrat Pazari's original plan was probably an introverted combination of typical rows of shops and workshops of the public bazaar areas in the Ottoman Empire. In the sixteenth century the bazaar had semi-temporary nature, which was a factor for attracting attention of the female customer. Although there were shops founded earlier by the charity foundation of Davud Pasa, the weekly open market provided an atmosphere of tolerance where women could act both as the seller and the customer. The fact that the women benefactors, such as Keyci Hatun, Sekuk Hatun, Nevbahar Hatun, Gevher Sultan and Haseki Hurrem Sultan traditionally initiated charity works gives an important significance to the area. One could describe this place as a 'quarter of women benefactors', such as the religious complex of Empress Helena in medieval Jerusalem. (56) Avrat Pazan's surrounding buildings were not completely allocated to women, and it would be an exaggeration to describe the area as a 'women quarter'. However the benefactors' profil e displays that the built environment contributed to the founders' prestigious status, so that their names would not be forgotten in the darkness of the past.

Another point to note is that the aid Roman Forum on the Mese was turned to a religious district accompanied by civil settlement areas of the Ottomans. The Roman-Byzantine forum with the statue signaled power and superiority in war. There the hero was represented according to the Roman concept of universe. The huge column could be observed from far distances, and the imperial street recalled invincible battles of the Roman army. Natural disasters helped much, but actually after the sixteenth century it lost its main characteristics. Considering the transformation after Mehmed II, religious complexes replaced the old ruins of the Byzantine heritage. Neither large columns narrating stories of the heroes, nor wide squares and mythological figures existed anymore. Charity buildings were allocated for the public use of the Muslim subjects. At this stage, Avrat Pazari's commercial atmosphere signals the transition from the antique monumental concept into the Ottoman usage in a mundane manner.

(1.) Suraiya Foroughi (1998). pp. 116-117.

(2.) Leslie P. Peirce (1998). p. 177

(3.) Farouqhi (1998), p.117.

(4.) During the Tulip Age the spatial freedom of woman ceased to enlarge. Picnics parties on the Kagithane Meadow and romantic tours on the Goksu River changed woman's perception of nature. She became mare interested in the open-air activities that were popular in this age. Farouqhi (1998). p. 122f

(5.) Maurice M. Cerasi, (1999). p. 198.

(6.) Dina Rizk Khoury (2000). p. 113. The definition of 'public' and 'private' spheres of the Ottoman city as observed through the Muslim law and women's status was mentioned by Rhoads Murphey (1990). p. 120-128.

(7.) Heinrich Ottendorf (1665). Fol. 55f.

(8.) Burcak Evren, Dilek Girgin Can (1996). pp. 30-31. As 'bohcaci' was an elder woman who could meet several people in different houses, she was considered as intermediate person for helping to find spouse for unmarried women or to widespread the gossips

(9.) Farouqhi (1998). pp. 126-127.

(10.) Ibid, p. 135.

(11.) Khoury (2000). p. 113.

(12.) Ibid, p. 114.

(13.) Sakaoglu (1993). pp. 430-431.

(14.) Komurciyan (1988). p. 48; Hovhannesyan (1997). p.8.

(15.) Peirce (2000). P. 174: 'Avret' (in the colloquial language, 'avrat') means woman or wife. Many historical sources including the codices took the word as a standard term. There was a building in Istanbul called as 'Avrat Hamami', women's public bath.

(16.) Evliya Celebi (1984). p.42; Sakaoglu (1993). p.430.

(17.) This anonymous miniature belongs to the Museo Correr Collection in Venice. The illustration is taken from: Istituto Italiano di Cultura, (ed.) (1995). no. 179.

(18.) Sakaoglu (1993). p. 431.

(19.) Goodwin (1997). p. 102

(20.) Sakaoglu (1993). p. 431.

(21.) In the year 543 AD. an earthquake and in 550 a thunderbolt destroyed the monument. During the 15th century Gyllius could climb up the inner staircase, but in 1605 a traveler noted that iron rings were added for strengthening the column, and in 1666 another said that the staircase was destroyed and it was impossible to climb up. Semavi Eyice (1994), pp. 306-307. The column was partially removed in 1711, because of the threat of a sudden collapse. Arseven notes that the base was preserved by the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Celal Esat Arseven (1989). p. 181.

(22.) Petrus Gyllius (1997). p. 100.

(23.) Ibid, p.101.

(24.) Sakaoglu (1993). p. 431.

(25.) Gyllius (1997). p. 185.

(26.) Dogan Kuban (2000). pp. 74-75.

(27.) Ibid, pp. 36-37; Gyllius (1997). p. 131 f.

(28.) Gyllius (1997), pp. 174-176.

(29.) Kuban (2000), p. 63.

(30.) Arseven notes that the thick wall reinforces the Cemberlitas was built in 1701. Arseven (1989), p. 182.

(31.) The Hungarian King, Matthias, who tried to regenerate the Renaissance culture at his Palace, placed the sculptures at the Budin Palace.

(32.) George Jeffery (1983). p. 60.

(33.) During the age of Bayezid II architectural activities sustained and large projects were presented, such as the Galata bridge projects prepared by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

(34.) Kuban (2000). p. 250

(35.) Ibid, pp.250-251.

(36.) Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi (1958). plan: D3.

(37.) isli (1994). Vol. 4. p.1.

(38.) Ayverdi (1958), the same plan.

(39.) On the Hurrem's life: Peirce (1998). p. 270-271.

(40.) isli (1994). p.2.

(41.) Ulya Vogt-Goknil, (1987). P. 13-22.

(42.) Aptullah Kuran (1986). p. 40.

(43.) Ibid., pp. 37-43; Vogt-Goknil (1987). p. 13.

(44.) According to Austrian Ambassador Busbecq who stayed in istanbul between the years 1554-1562, the pest quickly widespread in the capital. O. G. Busbecq, (1970's). p. 170-171.

(45.) Kuban (2000). p. 164.

(46.) From: Topkapi Palace Museum Library, Y.B. 3470.

(47.) 1477, printed in 1575. From: Topkapi Palace Museum Library, Y.B. 3854.

(48.) Salamon Schweigger (1608 / 1964). p. 102.

(49.) For the reliability of the Dillich map, another building, such as Yedikule Fortress can be compared with the original situation. The pentagonal scheme and the Fatih Mosque inside, as Dilich represents, seems to correspond to the original situation of the fortress. Dillich's drawing is published in: Karoly Kos (1995). p. 83.

(50.) Nasuhu's-Silahi (Matrakci) (1976). p. 47 and fol. 8b.

(51.) Walter B. Denny (1970). pp. 49-64; Denny also discusses if the building belongs to the Haseki Complex, p. 62.

(52.)From: Topkopi Palace Museum Library, H. 1523, fols. l58-159a.

(53.) He also painted out the place of the column surrounded by an open area printed in Amsterdam, 1701, Topkapi Palace Museum Library, Y.B. 2083, no. 1.

(54.) Nimet Taskiran (1972). Pp. 78-79, 81.

(55.) Philip Anton Dethier (1993), p.61.

(56.) Peirce (1998) notes similar practices of women benefactors in Jerusalem, such as the religious complex of Empress Helena, mother of Constantine I. The Haseki Kulliye was placed on the site of the Palace of Tansuk el-Muzaferiye who lived during the Mameluke period. This area was named later as 'Hill of Women', and the street in front of the building as Women's Street' or 'Street of Queen Helena'. Peirce underlines that the East Mediterranean tradition of women benefactors survived during the Byzantine and the Ottoman periods.


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* Assist. Prof. Dr. Burcu Ozguven, Department of Interior Architecture, Faculty of Engineering - Architecture, Beykent University, Beylikduzu - Gurpinar, Beykent, istanbul.
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Date:Dec 1, 2001
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