- Evliya Çelebi, his Life
- His Passion for Adventure
- His Travels
- His Book
- Advice of his Father
- A Jinnee Story and Famous Wrestles-Edirne
- Kağıthane Pleasance
- The Palace of Abdal Khan-His Bath-His Feasts
- The People of Trabzon and their Occupation - Trabzon's Food and
- The House of the Wrestler
- Melek (Angel) Ahmet Pasha becomes Grand Vizier
EVLlYA ÇELEBİ was born on the 25th of February 1611 in Istanbul. He
says he slipped out of every difficulty in his adventurous life with ease because of the
goodwill of the seventy friends of his father who had been at their home on the night of
His father, Mehmet Ağa (Derviş Muhammed Zilli), had taken part in the
conquest of Cyprus during the reign of Sultan Selim II, had presented the keys of
Famagusta to the Sultan and had risen to the post of chief jeweller in the palace. He was
over seventy five and in Evliya Celebi's words "a grand old, man".
Mehmet Ağa was an artist and a man of agreeable temperament. He
undertook the decoration of the famous Mosque of Sultan Ahmet in Istanbul and was sent to Mecca to make Mihrap during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I.
His mother was related to one of the famous pashas of the age, Melek Ahmet
His full name is that of his father, Evliya bin Dervis Mehmet
Zilli. This world famous traveller was called Evliya after Imam-i Sultani Evliya Mehmet
Efendi, a famous personage of that age, a close friend of Dervis Mehmet Ağa and later a
tutor to our traveler.
Çelebi likes to describe himself as "Seyyah-i alem ve Nedim-i
beni adem Evliya-yi bi-riya".
IN COMPLETION of his elementary education Evliya entered a Medrese (religious school)
and, while trying to master the art of jewelry from his father, he learned Greek from his
father's apprentice to whom in turn he taught the Sahidi vocabulary.
He listened to many an adventurous story from his father, a man of long
years and experience who had served many sultans from Suleyman the Magnificent to Ibrahim,
and these, coupled with the things he heard from their numerous guests, lit in him the
passion for foreign lands. "Through heredity many an adventure and experience was
passed to your humble servant from his grandfather and father", he writes in
explanation of his curiosity.
One night he dreamt of the Prophet and instead of saying "Şefaat ya
Resulullah" (intercede on my behalf. Oh envoy of God), he said "Seyahat ya
Resulullah" (grant me travel, Oh envoy of God).
Evliya Çelebi sought the interpretation of his dream from many a learned
man of the age and gave himself up to ruminating on "how can I free myself from the
burden of father, mother, master, brother and see the world?".
First he wandered through Istanbul as, in his own words, a "vagabond
pedestrian" and started recording his first impressions. He made these very
picturesque by adding his own thoughts for his imagination was as strong as his passion.
Step by step, he saw the whole of Istanbul until there remained nothing he had not seen
nor anyone he had not talked with. He found his way to the court of eminent men; he sat
and listened in the coffee-shops and wine shops to story tellers and convents.
IN THE YEAR 1640 he traveled to Bursa for the first time. In that year
too he made a sea voyage to Izmit. Though son of a father who had lived in court and had
close relations with the Sultan and eminent statesmen and a mother who was related to the
pashas of the period, Evliya Çelebi was never to succumb to the wish for mundane wealth
Instead of an office, which he could easily attain through his
influential relatives and friends, he devoted his life to travel to distant lands, to the
desire to see the whole world, acquaint himself with everybody and learn everything. This
enlightened citizen of Istanbul accepted only assignments which involved travel and not
for their importance. He went to Trabzon with Ketenci Ömer Pasha when the latter was
appointed governor to that province. From there he went to Georgia in Russia, Merhilistan
and the land of the Abaza.
In 1641 he took part in the famous Battle of Azak and thence went to
Crimea with the Khan of Crimea. On his voyage back to Istanbul his ship encountered a
fierce storm and was wrecked. For eight months he lay ill in the convent of Kelgra. Later
he took part in the Battle of Crete.
He spent the two years between 1646 and 1648 as a customs clerk in
Erzurum, to which he had traveled in the company of Defterzade Mehmet Pasha. From there he
embarked on his travels to parts of Russia and Persia - Tebriz, Revan, Baku and Tiflis.
The news of his father's death brought him back to Istanbul and the fortune he inherited
supplied him with enough funds to enable him to travel comfortably for the rest of his
life, sometimes accompanied by his friends, more often with his slaves. Also the expensive
presents he received from those he served and the sale of the booty he won from the
various battles in which he participated provided for himself and his relations in
After settling his family affairs he went to Damascus as the Chief
Muezzin of Murtaza Pasha who had been appointed Governor there. On his way back to
Istanbul as a courier he met the revolutionaries in Üsküdar and took part in the
As he was searching for means of travel from Istanbul he became the
Chief Muezzin and Accountant of Melek Ahmet Pasha who was Governor in the western regions
of the Ottoman Empire and during the next years he traveled to Sofia, Silistre and all the
cities in mid-Europe with him. He participated in the Polish Campaign. In his book he
describes at length these cities and the interesting happenings.
In 1661 after the demise of this Pasha, to whom he was related, he took
part in the Austrian campaign of Sultan Mehmet IV. He also participated in the Demirkazık
campaign. He was one of the envoys to Vienna. From Vienna he embarked on a long journey
In 1667 he returned to Istanbul which he had not seen for eight years.
He made contact with the members of his family from whom he had long been separated and
settled his family affairs. But he could live only one year in Istanbul. He went to Edirne
and searched for means of joining the army for the Crete campaign. He went to Anatolia by
land, then passed on to Kandiye and finally to Morea. He was sixty and, wanting to perform
his religious duty of pilgrimage, he traversed with a number of friends the eastern
sections of Anatolia and reached Cairo.
Evliya Çelebi traveled from early childhood until the time when there
was nothing to see and no one to meet; he learned and recorded everything. He derived his
real source of knowledge and culture not from education but from life. The desire in him
to learn burned until his last days. Likewise during his long stay in Egypt during his old
age, he explored the whole country while also attending lectures by the scholars of the
The last volume of his book is on Egypt and thereafter he did not write
about the rest of his life.
As well as devoting his life to travel, Evliya Çelebi was also a
calligrapher, decorator, musician and a poet in his own way. He was very fond of all works
of art and books whether miniatured or illuminated. For example , he was not greatly
excited over the Jewels of Abdal Khan of Bitlis but deeply impressed with the chest
A man with a beautiful voice and a deep knowledge of musical instruments
Evliya Çelebi could spare no time for marriage in his fifty years of travel and
consequently had no offspring.
It is understood that Evliya Çelebi did not live long after his return
from Egypt and according to the latest investigations and appraisals is buried in the
family burial ground near the Meyyit-zade cemetery.
HIS "BOOK OF TRAVELS" is nearly 6000 pages long. It is written
in "spoken language". That is to say, he has on the one hand avoided using words
and expressions not used in spoken language thus refraining
from exhibiting his art and knowledge and on the other hand spontaneously made the
grammatical mistakes one usually indulges in careless colloquial speech. He spent his en-_
tire life amongst people who could never spare the time for reading and writing and he
made the language of these people his style.
Evliya Çelebi showed an undying interest in the characteristics of the
countries in which he journeyed and in the people he met. This unflagging curiosity and
extraordinary ability for observation is obvious in his work. One can read there a long
and detailed account of every city, town, mosque, medrese, inn, bath, castle, rampart and
other installations he deemed important. He also gives a vivid account of the wars he
experienced and the characteristics of the pashas and viziers he served.
Evliya Çelebi was knowledgeable of humans and objects. His volumes
covering all his travels. He always refers to himself as descriptions are vivid and
distinct. In this way Evliya Çelebi cannot be said to be a "theoretician"; this
'is not in the parts where manifested he gives facts and figures about cities and roads
but where he describes events he witnessed.
Evliya's "Book of Travels" has three versions.
His work covers the historic events of the 17th century Ottoman Empire
with vivid flashes into the life of the period, and is an invaluable source of historic
and geographic knowledge. A few pages is enough to accustom one to his unusual and flowing
Those who enjoy witch stories, history and geography will find in
Çelebi a rich source of historic accounts in a lucid style and will find it hard to stop
reading the "Book of Travels".
(On his first trip Evliya Çelebi goes to Bursa without informing
his family of his departure. On his return his father greets him with "Come, oh
traveler of Bursa" and gives him some advice. The following may not be the actual
advice, but it is of significance in as much as it is the result of his impressions of
years of travels and experience!.)
WHEN YOUR HUMBLE servant returned to his grief-stricken home that day,
kissed the hands of his father and mother and stood in their noble presence, his beloved
father said, "Welcome traveler of Bursa. Welcome". However nobody had known
which direction I had taken. "Sire", said your humble servant, "how did you
know your humble servant was in Bursa?" "When you disappeared on the night of
the 'Aşure' of 'Muharrem' one thousand and fifty" (May 1640) he condescended to say
"many an ancient prayer did I say. One thousand times did I repeat the 'Inne a'
tayna' chapter of the Koran. That night I dreamt that you were at the tomb of Emir Sultan
at Bursa, seeking seccour from spiritual influence and begging for world travel with tears
flowing from your eyes. That night many a dervish asked and begged for my consent that you
go on your travels. And 1, that night, gave you my consent, with the acquiescence of them
all. We then spoke the Fatiha' chapter of the Koran. Come then, son. Henceforth you are
destined to travel. Blessed may it be. But I have some advice", he said and clasped
my hand; and as I stood in front of him he began to wring my left ear with his left hand
and deliver these counsels:
"Son, man may be poor, do not start eating without mentioning the
name of God.
"If you have a secret beware of telling It to your wife. Do not eat
if you are polluted. "If a thing is good do not say it is bad. "Do not be a
comrade to the malicious, .you will be harmed. It your clothing be torn do not repair it
while you are wearing it.
Advance, do not let your eye linger behind. Do not lead the procession
astray. Do not tread on fields. Do not encroach on the share of a friend.
Do not pick up things you do not own. Do not listen when two people
converse. Abide with the right of bread and salt. Do not look at another's wife and commit
a treachery. Do not go to places you are not Invited. If you do, go to honest people, to
places of which you are sure. Keep secrets. At every gathering retain in your mind the
things you may hear.
Do not carry word from house to house. Refrain from backbite, from
denunciation, from talking behind the backs of others, from gossip. Be decent. Maintain
good relations with everyone. Do not be stubborn and poisonous of tongue. Do not go in
front of those who are more imminent that you.
Abide with the wise old man.
Be clean always and abstain from the illicit and the forbidden.
Perform your religious duties five times a day, be well-known for your
tranquillity of conduct and preoccupy yourself with munificent science.
Son, My advice in mundane affairs is that you be sweet of tongue. Do
not ask for worldly things from the viziers and nobles you have close ties with so that
they do not hate you and accord you a cold reception. Content yourself with a mouthful.
And do not dissipate property you may come to own.
Live modestly. 'Modesty is an Inexhaustible treasure' they say.
You may require it in sickness and in health. Do not save the worldly
coin for food and clothing and then be in need of the despicable. Because: "Enemy
does not matter only be not in need of a friend", they say. In the places you walk
and visit tie the belt of endeavor securely around your waist and conserve yourself. Water
sleeps but the alien and cruel enemies do not sleep. Visit the saints and all the places
of pilgrimage and in all the lands you visit, write in volumes all about their plains,
tall mountains, lonely trees and stones, their towns and their monuments and castles,
their conquerors and their founders and compose a book which will be called "book of
travels", so that your end be good and you be preserved from the malice of your
enemies. May God be your excellent defender and helper. May you in the world be given
quarter and at your last breath faith, and may you in the day of resurrection awake beside
the flag of the Prophet.
Let these counsels dwell on your ear like pendant ear-rings", he
said, and slapped me mightily on the nape and twisted my ear and said "Go, in the
name of God, may your fate be good".
When your humble servant opened his eyes with the shock of the slap, lo
and behold our house was full of light. Without delay I kissed the blessed hand of my
father and stood in silence. I beheld him give me, in a saddle-bag, twelve excellent books
and about two hundred gold coins for my journey.
THE MEDRESE of Kemal Paşazade. For years one cell of this medrese is
infested with jinn and nobody is able to set foot in it. The cell is empty and the door
barred. Then, in the century of Bayezid-i Veli, Kemal Pasazade Ahmet Çelebi, a fellow in
quest of scientific studies, travels up to Edirne. As luck would have it he arrives at
this medrese while seeking quarters. When he asks for a cell from the chief lecturer he is
given the answer, "Mullah, there are no empty cells in our medrese; however, we have
only one cell which is empty but that being infested with the jinn nobody is able to enter
it. Those who do enter sleep for a mere night and in the morning their dead bodies are
found". Kemal Pasazade replies, "My Sultan, grant me that cell. Let me receive a
lesson from your answer". He begs and insists and at last the chief lecturer gives
in, saying, "My son, you know best. Here is the key to the cell. Acquit me of your
claims". Kemal Pasazade and the chief lecturer mutually forgive one another and,
whispering the name of God, he opens the door of the cell. He sits on a sheepskin.
After the late night prayer, the porters and the chief lecturer place
outside Kemal Paşazade's cell a bench on which the corpse is washed, a coffin and other
funeral equipment as custom demanded.
At midnight, when Kemal Pasazade was busy with study, the part of the
wall facing Mecca divided in two and an old, saintly angel appears holding a beautiful
child in his arms. "God be with you" he says, and Kemal Pasazade says "God
be with you". "Son I will trust you with my child in the name of Allah. You will
teach him science and the regulations of prayers of the five appointed times of day",
he says and leaves.
Kemal Pasazade whispers the name of God and teaches this innocent child
the Koran and then passes on to his own work. Before daybreak the old man emerges from the
same wall and says "Son, may the approval of God be with you. May you be happy in
this world and the next. I am Sultan Asfail, a ruler of the jinn. Every time I come to
this cell and entrust my son to its inmates and go. But they betray the trust of God and
mishandle my son and I kill them. From now on let all sciences be open to you", he
concludes and, praying, takes his child and leaves.
When early in the morning Kemal Pasazade opens his door to go out he
sees before him an imam, muezzin and congregation and a coffin and boiling water in
readiness. When they see Kemal Pasazade they are amazed and offer thanks to God.
Kemal Pasazade did not reveal his secret to a living soul and mastered
all the sciences and he was so learned and wise that he was the only man of that century.
WHILE MY HUMBLE SELF was lodging with Melek Ahmed Pasha at Topcular
(Artillery) Palace, every evening we used to watch thousands of firecrackers reach the sky
and hear the report of thousands of guns and rifles. Later, when I enquired of a fellow
man-of-pleasure about this feast, he said "Woe to the hopeless fool who has
dissipated his wits, wisdom and yielded to sorrow and despair... Why is it that you are so
aggrieved as not to know about Kağıthane? Ever since this Great Ottoman Empire has
existed, never has there been a gayer and more joyful feast than Kağıthane. Anyone who
has not seen this place has seen nothing".
He so much praised Kağıthane that my soul swiftly flowed there and I
recalled this poem :
Happiness is relishing each pleasure
So let your heart enjoy this treasure.
Life is short my friend, world so unkind,
With sorrow and heartaches to remind;
But only in pleasures you will find
Solace, Joy and your peace of mind.
I then immediately went and got the Pasha's permission to go to
Kağıthane. I spent 40 gold bullions to buy two kayim, food and drinks and, together with
five or six Ağas, pitched our tents in the shadow of the great oak trees along the
Kağıthane river, thus settling, we started our feast of reason and the flow of soul to
continue day and night.
During the two months from the beginning of the month of Recep until
the holy crescent of Ramazan appears in the sky there has been such amusements and
pleasures on these green fields that no words can fully describe. All gentry, noblemen and
prodigal sons of the plutocrats of Istanbul adorned the valley with more than three
thousand tents. Every night these tents were illuminated with thousands of candles, oil
lamps and lanterns. In the evening, the leading groups were entertained by musicians,
singers, minstrels and performers like the Ahmed group, Cevahir group, Nazli group,
Garibanu group, Abide group, Zümrüt group, Postalcı group, Batakoğlu group, Hasena
group, Samurka group, who played many tunes on their "Ceng-ur Rebab"
"Santur", tambour and "Ud-u Kanun" until sunrise while hundred
thousand fireworks adorned the sky with lightnings, stars, butterflies, etc., and the
entire Kağıthane was bathed in this radiant splendor. Guns were fired from dawn to dusk.
Besides these tents, scattered along the two banks of the Kağıthane river, were more
than two thousand shops vending not only foods and drinks but also myriad valuables. Every
day the clowns, jesters, magicians, weight lifters, ropedancers, acrobats, jugglers,
jongleurs, bear, monkey, donkey and dog trainers, puppet shows, birdmen, and swordeaters,
about three hundred and sixty entertainers performed and made great profit. Four Janissary
platoons were assigned by the palace to maintain order in this area. Most of these
Janissaries used to swim in the Kağıthane river.
Never in history there has been such such union of gentlemen and
WHEN MELEK (ANGEL) AHMED PASHA became the governor of of Van,
Evliya Çelebi also went with him.
After a short rest in Diyarbakır they
arrive at Bitlis where they stay a few days as guests of Abdal Khan in his palace.
From the treasury on enters the bathroom hall where the numerous
windows, adorned with bronze and iron cage work which look like carvings, open to the
garden. The carved window shutters have been sent from Tebriz as a gift of the Persian
Khan. The sills are covered with black amber. The window tops and all of the hall is
decorated with writings by Mehmet Rıza Tabrizis, a famous calligrapher.
The writing includes a poem from Fuzuli, praising the bathroom.
In the middle of the hall there was a water basin from which 300
fountains were spurting water to the ceilings. The servants, all Cercassien and Georgian
slaves, were dressed and adorned with jewels. In the richly decorated belts, they had
stuck precious daggers and knives. As footware they wore wooden shoes with mother of pearl
decorations. They looked like peacocks from paradise. Respectfully they were handing
shoulder covers and mother of pearl decorated wooden shoes to the bathing guests.
The hall led to a lukewarm room covered with an immense dome. The walls
are covered with tiles. The dome is ornated with innumerable chandeliers. The middle of
this room represents the actual bathroom. One that enters it feels as if he is floating in
lights. This is because the dome is not held by the walls .but almost only by columns
between which are panels made of rare chrystals and transparent gleaming glasses. Sunrays
that reflect from these glass walls, turn the bath to a fascinatingly shimmering sea of
Yonder the panels the room resembles a garden of Eden in which
thousands of nightingales are singing while on the roof various kinds of other singing
birds can be observed. In the middle of the bathroom decorated with semi - precious stones
like jades, turquoises, garnets, ambers etc;, is placed a large waterbasin which resembles
birds' eyes. The basin is coated with tiles; many faucets are made of gold and silver.
Adorable slaves, covered either by white or red clothes, help washing
by providing soft towels and perfumed soaps, so that one looses his senses from sheer
happiness. The fragrance of musk which is being burnt in all kinds of vapor containers is
filling the room. All along the forty years of traveling my humble sell had never seen the
likes of this. Only God knows how much it had cost.
When Sultan Murat the conqueror of Bagdad took a bath here, the cold
water was mixed with rosewater and the hot with incense. In a bathing booth he was
attended by five black masseurs and five unusually lovely slaves who resembled houries or
angels. It is said that the Sultan, overwhelmed with joy, sighed contently and said :
"Oh, I wish I had this bath in my residence," And truly it was something to long
After we and the Pasha departed from the bathroom and headed for the
table that according to the prevailing etiquette and the habits of the Khan had been laid
in honor of the Pasha. Exactly 200 silver plates all filled with delicious foods were
brought in. Most of the meals were rice dishes prepared in different ways and soups.
Slaves, dressed in gold - yellow, and richly adorned, with gold and silver woven clothes
clad around their hips stood respectfully and attentively in a row to serve the Pasha. I
simply can not find the right word to describe adequately the napkins, the spoons with
jewel covered handles the sherbet bowls and all the other table ware. Therefore I am not
going to dwell on that subject any longer. The Khan and the Pasha sat down with the sons
of the Khan lined up on their left and right, and they began to eat.
The quantity they ate and the orgies they went through is unmatchable.
On the other side of the table the Ağas of the Pasha and the Khan were seated.
After the meal, golden bowls were carried in, our hands were washed
with fragrant soaps. Then a pile of napkins was brought in to be distributed on the laps
of the guests, who were sitting on the carpet.
Compot spoons made from cocoawood, boxwood, mother of pearls walnut
wood, iron etc., each single one priceless by itself were placed on the table.
Fifty other slaves carried in fifty bowls which I am not in a position
Later Mocca, Salebi, tea, sherbet jelly, and milk was served in jewel
covered little cups.
For breakfast there was, sweet meals, jellies pastries etc., every day.
Lunch was always as pictured above. So was dinner. Thus, ten days and ten nights did the
Khan honor his guest the Pasha. He also extended his hospitality to Pasha's escort 3060
men, his soldiers and servants.
After the meal the Khan said to the Pasha :
"We also have a couple of acrobats at our service. If you wish to
come to the lower garden you may see their performance." The Pasha went to the garden
and was seated on a raised place where from he could observe everything very nicely.
First came the famous acrobat Zenguzar. Cladded in a black leather
dress, he faced the Pasha, kissed the floor and recited a short prayer.
Then he started to run around the courtyard with such a speed that race
horses could not have been able to pace with him. When the circuit ended he was in front
of the Pasha. Giving out a loud "Ya Allah", he made a triple summersault in the
air and again landed safely on both his legs. That was followed by another summersault of
four turns in the air. After that, the acrobat performed a whole series of neckbreaking
tricks that were beyond the endurance of a normal human being. Head, arms and legs rolled
together as he moved around the courtyard like a paper windmill.
As his next feat of daring, he put three bottles one on the other, took
a run, made a summersault and winded up standing on the bottles. Then he jumped down. He
placed three more bottles on them and made two towers of six bottles each. The bottles
were so thin that the wind could shake them, back and forth. Six bottles one on the other,
were taller than a man's height He backed up 40 or 50 meters, jumped up once and shot up
like an arrow from a stretched bow. When he reached the bottles he screamed "Aia
Hi", jumped up very high and landed on the two rows of bottles. From there he saluted
the Pasha, jumped down, kissed the ground and stepped aside.
After him came the turns of the other acrobats. Hammers made in Bitlis
are matchless. The tailors there are so agile that dresses sewed by them look as if they
had no stitches.
The dyes of Bitlis as well as the arrows and bows are also famous.
Nine days and nights did Melek (Angel) Ahmet Pasha stay as a guest of
the Khan of Bitlis. On the tenth day he accepted the valuable gifts of the Khan, his host
and left for Van. Before leaving, the Khan requested from the Pasha that my humble self
should stay on a few more days. Thus I spent three more glorious and exciting days as a
guest of the Khan. At the end of the three days he wished me a good journey and I, loaded
with precious gifts, followed the Pasha to Van...
IN THE YEAR OF 1640, Evliya Çelebi, after his stays in Bursa and
Izmit, goes to Trabzon with Ketenci Ömer Pasha. After a detailed description of Trabzon,
its big and small mosques, its medreses, inns, baths etc. he writes:
"Because of its pleasant climate, its panoramic beauties the
majority of the people in Trabzon are specially fond of amusements. They are inclined to
drinking and making love. However. they hold work in the same level of importance as their
pleasure and amusement. Carefree and airy, they are tender lovers and faithful friends.
The women are Abhasian, Georgian and Circassian beauties, each one a beauty queen in her
The population is divided into seven groups. There are the State
employees and other high ranking Beys who walk around wrapped in ermine coats. The second
group are the scholars, the people of knowledge who wear their own costumes of definite
The third group are the merchants who go on business trips to Asow,
Kazak, Meril, Abhaza, Circassianland and Crimea. They wear woolen dresses, ferace,
(coats with large sleeves) kontus (furskirt) dolama, (wrap) and yelek
The fourth group includes the industrialists. These gentlemen dress in bugans
The fifth group are sailors whose attire includes a waistcoat, a baggy
trouser and a long wrap. Around their hips they wind an Astar. They trade on the
high seas and thus earn their living.
The sixth group are the vineyard keepers and the gardeners In Göztepe
only, there are approximately more than thirty thousand vineyards and gardens.
Finally there is the seventh group that includes the fishermen. In
Trabzon people are very fond of fish.
Goldsmiths of Trabzon are the best in the world. Various kinds of
incense containers, rosewater pitchers, swords, daggers and kitchen knives that are hand
made here are unique and not to be found anywhere else. The famous Gürgüroğlu
knives and also the axes known as Trabzon Axes are manufactured here. Fascinating
handwork concerning mother of pearl is also very widely known.
Trabzon's cherries, pears and grapes have the loveliest taste. A
special kind of fig called "Aubergine" fig, grows in this area. Also famous are
Trabzon lemons, citrus, grenadines and olives. They have seven different qualities of
olives here. Dates are dried in the ovens and sent to all of the Provinces. These dates
just taste divine. There are many kinds of flowers in Trabzon. There is a kind of
carnation that resembles a pinkish red rose. Without its stem it weighs 5 or 6 dirhems.
Of the fish levrek (seabass) and kefal (mullet) taste
exquisite. Apart from the tekir, a fish with a red head and about a head long,
and the uskumru (mackerel) there are innumerable others. The best liked of all is
the hamsi (anchovy) for which the men of Trabzon quarrel and even
fight with each other while making transactions.
"Give me a Makrama (towel) full of Hamsi", they say
and after they wrap the fish in the gold and silver embroidered Makrama they happily head
for home. Sometimes on their way it happens that the water drizzles down. Then the
pranksters and the jokesters call after them :
"Don't let the good water be wasted. You could cook yourself a
rice dish with it."
The fish has many advantages. It requires only seven days of
consumption for one to realize the unbelievable and unusual strength the muscles have
developed. Because it does not have an unpleasant odor, those who relish eating it have no
indigestion. Bodily pains disappear right after having eaten the fish.
Serpents and poisonous centipedes flee from their hiding place in the
house, when these spots are vapoured with Hamsi heads. Hamsi has numerous uses in the
kitchen. The people of Trabzon cook about 40 different kinds of meals with Hamsi.
Hamsisoups, hamsiroasts, hamsistew, hamsipies, and even hamsi and baklava (sweet pastry) are served in Trabzon. A meal
cooked in a frying pan and called pilaki is equally favored.
First the fish is cleaned, sliced to ten pieces and put on small
skewers. Parsley, onions, celery and bay leaves are finally shred, seasoned with cinnamon
and salt and all ingredients mixed well.
The Hamsi on skewers are put in the pan and covered with one layer of
the mixture. Olive oil and water is added. After one hour it is removed from the fire. It
really is a very delicious meal.
On the mountains there are pine trees, and in the vineyards cypresses
and walnut trees.
Outside the Zagnos gates there is an oak tree. On holidays the Pashas
go there with their soldiers and play cirit which is a
horseman's game played with spears. The place is very large. In the center three shipmasts
are tied together and topped with a golden ball. The horsemen stop their horses and aim at
the ball. Those who reach the target are rewarded accordingly.
YOUNGMEN FROM RUMELl gather here every Friday. 70 or 80 pairs of
stalwarts, all rubbed down with grease, meet to wrestle ? with each other. After the hug
and the hand kiss they catch each other around the neck and thus the fight starts. Through
yells of encouragement they are provoked to wrestle. With bare legs and naked chests they
often fight for hours, using all kinds of tricks, but not being able to have the referees
and the spectators draw up a decision.
Finally one or the other manages to detect the weak point of his
opponent and to revenge himself by trapping him. Strength of the muscles means manhood for
the wrestlers. But trapping is more important. According to a proverb manhood at a fight
means "ten", of which nine parts are tricks. In reality this is the truth.
The wrestling house, although not strongly constructed, is in good
condition. It has many partitions, a kitchen and a garden. In the yard are hanging the
belongings of the former wrestlers:
iron bows, truncheons, unusual bows and arrows and also greasy trousers
made of Buffalo hide and each weighing 40 or 50 okkas. (1 Okka = 1282 grams.)
(Between the periods of 1650 to 1662, Evliya Çelebi held the post of
head-muezzin and accountant for Melek Ahmet Pasha. Together with the Pasha they reside at
the province of Özi and Rumeli. Many events connected with the Pasha and which are
narrated as personal experiences. Below is described how the Pasha, after having been
governor in many provinces becomes Grand Vizier. The steps he took and the decision he
made are related along with his dismissal in the end.)
IN AUGUST 1ST 1650, Sultan Murad IV held a great State meeting in his
little palace Cimensofa in which participated many religious leaders and Viziers. Since
the governor of Bagdad, Nogayoğlu Arslan Pasha had died, it was to be determined who was
to be elected as his successor. Grand Vizier Murad Pasha took the lead:
"My Lord and Master, your Lala, Melek Ahmet Pasha has just arrived
from Bagdad. He knows well about the situation there and also got along with the Persians
so famously. Therefore may you honor him with this task?"
Upon this the Sultan turned to Melek Ahmet Pasha and said:
"Melek, my Lala. I donate you again the Province of Bagdad."
"I accept it my Lord and Master", said the Pasha, "only
the terror and tyranny imposed on the folk by" the Yanizaris has gone beyond the
limits of endurance. The Yanizari Ağa and the Vizier of Bagdad do as they please. Give
out a decree for the removal of ten of these tyrants."
Consequently he received three packs of gold as travelling fare, 50
guns, 50 harnesses- 50 camels, 50 mules, a new attractive tent and a decree on his
appointment as head commander.
The Pasha got up, kissed the hand of the Sultan and bid farewell to the
Viziers and other high Commissioners. From the palace Sinan Pasha, at Sarayburnu, he took
the boats with his escort and went to Üsküdar wherefrom he was to head for Bagdad. There
he stayed a couple of days in his palace.
His wife Kaya Sultan also prepared for the journey. To see Bagdad, my
humbleself who was serving the Pasha as head muezzin and accountant, also proceeded in
On August 7, 1650 Hasan Ağa, chief of the Imperial Chancellery
together with the commander of the Palace garden arrived by boat and told the Pasha that
his Majesty the Sultan wanted to see him.
"I hope its good news;" said the Pasha with a worried
"It is good news for which I have deserved a recompense"
answered Hasan Ağa.
The Pasha took a boat. While we were still on our way we were met by
another boat coming from the direction of the Sinan Pasha Palace. When it got closer we
recognized the Chief of the Palace eunuchs.
"Blessed winds good news;" he called to us.
At Sarayburnu, the Pasha was met by the Commander of the Palace Guard
and other high officials who were all decorated with medals. Then he was taken to the
Cimensofa, the Imperial Gar den. Many high officials of the Divan (High Court) Viziers,
the Sheich-u-Islam; the Kazaskers and other important personages were gathered. Only I
could not see the Grand Vizier Kara Murad Pasha.
The Sultan came in and after the greetings seated himself on the
throne. He immediately turned to Melek Ahmet Pasha and said:
"Melek, my Lala, your trip did not last long. You do not need to
go to Bagdad any longer. I have entrusted you with the Honorable Seal."
He took the Seal taken away from Murad Pasha and handed it personally
to Melek Pasha. Melek Pasha received it, kissed the floor and said:
"My Master, I accept the Seal, but may nobody from either inside
or outside the Palace cause me any hindrance in my work. Nobody should ask for something
and thus interfere with matters connected with the Moslems."
He paused for a while and continued:
"Do lend me a thousand bags of Gold from the treasury so that I
may form a big fleet, go to Crete with the Seal, conquer Kandia and take revenge from the
Genuas. I hope that thus and by, praying for the prosperity of the Sultan we shall render
valuable services to our religion."
When Melek Ahmet Pasha ended his sentence the Sultan said :
"Lala Murad Pasha has the hundred bags of gold you need. Take it
from him and use it to form your fleet."
"My master," retorted Melek Pasha, "I like to provide
the one thousand bags of gold myself. To your Lala Murad Pasha, give the Province of
His request was granted. Murad Pasha received Budin and felt like a
newborn babe. After that many people swarmed the palace of the Pasha. Many high-ranking
officials and tradesmen came. The crowd that kept on coming for seven days and nights were
so big that we could hardly move. During this period money was spent like water. Our hands
got tired from collecting money to be used at various services.
On the day Melek Ahmet Pasha received the Seal, the Kızlar-ağa
(head of the eunuchs) came to see him and brought him the following message from the
"May your new job be blessed. May the mighty Allah aid and abet
you in everything and may He lead you in the path of righteousness. Show Yourself.."
He brought the Pasha a kaftan like the ones that the Sultans wear and a
fur. When the Pasha put it on the underofficers of the Divan wished him that the Kaftan
may bring him luck and that he may live long.
"May God grant a long life to the Sultan," they shouted. To
the chief of the eunuchs the Pasha gave a bag of gold and a fur. Princess Kaya also was
very happy and distributed twenty bags of gold among the Ağas. My humble self also
received 300 Kuruş. Everybody young and old, rich and poor rejoiced the event.
On the 14th day of the Ramazan, the month of fasting, the new Grand
Vizier, followed by a great procession led by the Molla of Istanbul and including the
representative of the State and the Ağa of the city, went to his executive quarters at
Unkapanı, by the provision room where once Sultan Mehmet the conqueror also had a seat.
At his first official dealing he brought together many ship captains
from Black Sea, bakers, millers and cargo owners. He asked how much corn costed at the
Black Sea Ports. Since a 300 dirhem weighing white bread was priced one Akçe, he
accordingly set a maximum price. For meat he sat a price of 7 Akçe. Later he went to the
Fatih vegetable market and there he also set maximum prices for rice, beans, green peas,
lentils, henna, sugar, coffee etc... From there he returned to the Palace.
Our nights turned into holynights and our days into holydays...