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Dervishes in Ladhiq, Anatolia, Turkey, 1340~


Gibb, H.A.R. (ed. & transl.): The travels of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354. Cambridge, Hakluyt Society, 1962, 2 vols.



On our entry into this city, as we passed through one of the bazaars, some men came down from their booths and seized the bridles of our horses. Then certain other men quarrelled with them for doing so, and the altercation between them grew so hot that some of them drew knives. All this time we had no idea what they were saying, and we began to be afraid of them, thinking that they were the Jarmiyän [brigands] who infest the roads, and that this was their city, and reckoning that they were out to rob us. At length God sent us a man, a pilgrim, who knew Arabic, and I asked what they wanted of us. He replied that they belonged to the Fityän, that those who had been the first to reach us were the associates of the Young Akhï Sinän, while the others were the associates of the Young Akhï Tümän, and that each party wanted us to lodge with them. We were amazed at their native generosity. Finally they came to an agreement to cast lots, and that we should lodge first with the one whose lot was drawn. The lot of Akhï Sinän won, an on learning of this he came to meet us with a body of his associates. They greeted us and we were lodged in a hospice of his, where we were served with a variety of dishes. The Akhï then conducted us to the bath and came in with us; he himself took over the office of serving me, while his associates undertook the service of my companions, three or four of them waiting on each one of the latter. Then, when we came out of the bath, they served us a great banquet with sweetmeats and quantities of fruit, and after we finished eating and the Qur’än-readers had recited verses from the Exalted Book they began their singing and dancing. They sent word about us to the sultan, and on the following day he sent for us in the evening, and we went to visit him and his son, as we shall relate shortly.


After this we returned to the hospice, and there we found the Akhï Tümän and his associates awaiting us. They conducted us to their hospice and did as their confrères had done in the matter of the food and the bath, but went one better than they in that they gave us a good sprinkling with rosewater when we came out of the bath. They then went with us to the hospice, and they also, in their lavish hospitality with varieties of food, sweetmeats, and fruit, and in recitation of the Qur’än after the end of the meal, followed by singing and dancing, did just as their confrères had done or even better. We stayed with them in their hospice for several days.


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Whirling dervishes in Constantinople, Turkey, 1824


Carne, John: Letters from the East... London, Henry Colburn, 1826, 2 volumes.



The mosque of the whirling Dervishes afforded a singular exhibition during the feast of Beiram. Taking off our shoes at the entrance, we mingled among the assemblage of Turks that was seated on the floor. There was a great deal of simplicity and elegance in the building: a large circular space in the middle was inclosed by a railing, within which were near twenty dervishes. Above, was a gallery with a front of gilt lattice-work, which held a great number of spectators as well as the musicians. The devotions, if so they may be called, began with the chanting some parts of the Koran, by a dervise in the gallery, whose voice gradually became louder, and the dervishes below began to walk round in a circle, slowly, with their arms folded. At last the music struck up a lively strain; and one of them, advancing into the middle of the circle, began to spin round like a top. They all threw off the outer garment, and in their white vest set to spinning, with their arms extended in a line with the top of their heads, and their eyes closed. It is really incredible how they could endure such an incessant motion for such a length of time, it being continued for more than an hour, with two or three intervals of rest of a few minutes each. Though so many in a small space, and the vest of each flung out like a parachute, they did not come in contact with each other.


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A wedding in Turkey, 1838~


Sandwich, The Earl of: A voyage performed by the late Earl of Sandwich round the Mediterranean in the years 1738 and 1739. London, Cadell & Davies, 1849.



The ceremonies, that are performed on occasion of a wedding, consist in a great deal of show, where both families endeavour to make the utmost pomp of their attendants end equipage. After that the parents have agreed between themselves in relation to the nichiagh, or contract, it is delivered into the hands of the bride. The first Friday after this agreement is passed, the entertainments and feasting begin in the houses both of the bride and bridegroom. The guests, who are for the most part relations to one or other of the families, are expected to make the bride some handsome present; which consists usually in jewels, or gold and silver stuffs.


On the Tuesday following, the bride, attended with all her friends and relations of her own sex, goes to the bagnio, where she is to be thoroughly washed, all her hair, except that of her head, taken off with a sort of paste made for that purpose, and to be perfumed over all parts of her body, according to the universal custom. During the time that she remains in the bagnio, she is diverted by a number of zenghì, or girls skilled in music and dancing; who are usually very well instructed in the ways of amusing their hearers or spectators. She is hence conducted back to her father's house, and the next day goes with a solemn cavalcade to the house of her husband.


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The Greek dancing-boys of Galata, Constantinople, 1844

White, Charles: Three years in Constantinople, or domestic manners of the Turks in 1844. London, Henry Colburn, 1846, 3 vols.

According to the Turkish historian, the five hundred and fifty-four minor subdivisions of the forty-six great sections were classed according to the connexion existing between the studies, occupations, and labours of the former and latter. Thus to the first guild, led by tchaoosh (police-sergeants or exons), and to the second, conducted by Janissaries, were affiliated all police-officers, young Janissaries, gravediggers, paviours, scavengers, executioners, tombstone-hewers, bonegrubbers, nightmen, pickpokets, grooms, low menial servants, ass-drivers, watchmen, thieves, vagabonds, and, lastly, dejusan (men conniving at and profiting by their wives' incontinence) and pezavenks (ministers of vice), from whom Constantinople is not exempt, and with which Pera abounds to a scandalous extent. Indeed, as regards the latter, it may be said that the Christian suburbs of Stambol, especially the Greek population, present a picture of dissoluteness and profligacy not to be paralleled by any city in the world. The disgusting spectacle of the Greek dancing-boys of Galata is revolting even to the coarsest mind; and the hideous venality and mercenary wickedness of the Pera, St. Dimitri, and Bosphorus Greek women, who traffic with their young daughters, must be known and seen to be credited. Vice is there the standard rule, virtue the rare exception; and this, coupled with a cold-blooded absence of all heart and sentiment, renders their vice still more abominable.