The Grand Bazaar And Medieval Economy

65The Grand Bazaar is such an important source of data that gives hints about the social and economical structure of the Ottoman Empire and the republic of Turkey. ff a study on the country was done in the Grand Bazaar, the data which is obtained would be enough. It is h ard to understand why such few researches were done on the Grand Bazaar even though the biggest university of the country erects right by it. TJ:ıe study which was done by the students of Prof Hilmi Ziya Ulken in 1944 is one of the ra re researches I could obtain:
“The Grand Bazaar used to be the strongest center of the Medieval Economy which had monopolies of trade branches and was managed by guilds. After the guilds were closed, the tradesmen community staıted to change slowly by acconunodating themselves to the requirements of the time. The fact that the Bazaar kept its aggregateness as a structure although the tradesmen branched all over the neighborhoods and districts caused the protection of old signs of life. After the closure of the weaver guild in Ahmediye neighborhood, an in1portant part of the free weavers kept staying there. However, none of the neighborhoods or districts haci the power to gather the kincls of arts as many as the Grand Bazaar and was able to continue. In 1944, I gave an assignment about the struct:ure of the Grand Bazaar during its transition from the meclieval economy to today’s economy to my students Mustafa Göksu, Saime Ersek, Naci Baysal ve Mehmet Erol. At that time there was a lack of histarical data on this subject.

These young researchers first came across the thesis about the same topic by İffet Oruz: They benefited from “Encylopeclia of Antique Works” by N.Rüştü Büngül and Mecelle-i-Umur-u-Belediye by Osman Erkin. However they can not lighten the conflictecl sides of the histarical data and can not separate this data from the narrations of the seniors of the Bazaar. At the same time these young researchers were right. To be honest there were no cletailed and serious studies on the Grand Bazaar. Although the article written by Osman Erkin under the “Bazaar” title of Cyclopedia of Islam is better coordinated, it stillleaves many points indefinite. An author points out the indefinite points by saying “the Chaı1er of Foundation” must be investigated in areler to enlighten these indefinite points” The assignment that was prepared by the students mostly dwelled upon verbal data, narratives and the current situation. Beclestan is the seecl of the Grancl Bazaar. It is founcl out that this part is left from Byzantine times. According to Ibn Batuta, the beclestan was on Divanyolu and was used as a horse shelter. This seems like the most accurate narration. Just like Osman Erkin says, the fact that historians Kritovoulos and Mr. Tursun said that the bedestan was built by Fatih must be interpreted as “Fatih expanded the bedestan and turned it into a Bazaar by aciding the old building.” First there were shops in bedestan to ensure ineames of teachers.

That is why they were called “Teacher”. After that when a salary was given over to the teachers, real tradesmen settled here but they still kept the name “teacher”. The shops in Bedestan are cal! ed Lids or Cabinets. The Grand Bazaar enlargecl up to four times with the extension parts which were added by Fatih and other emperors. Thus three thousand three hundred and sixty were located ona !and of 30,700 square meters. The Grand Bazaar gathers many fields of arts on sixty one streets which cross ve11ical!y one another. The Trade Guild consisted of business owners and masters. They had stewards and yiğitbaşıs as directors. W e are able to learn about how this organization operated and which organization they were affiliated with financially through the notebooks called “ehl-i hiref’ (people of art) in Topkapi Palace. We see the roles of stewards and yiğitbaşıs by the court records which were published partly by M.Cevclet. They woulcl solve the disputes between traclesmen without having the government involved. They were midellemen between the government and the tradesmen. The rank of positions in the guild starteel from father of masters, to masters, foremen and apprentices. The traclesmen of Grand Bazaar would gather araund the “Prayer Field” called by the prayer by the words “Let’s Pray” and start to work after the ceremony. The traclesmen of the Bazaar were invited to military expeclitions, imperial weddings and circumcision festivals. In Evliya Çelebi’s Itinerary, he explains the march past of tradesmen in detail when he talks about Murat IV’ s  review of tradesmen. In Surname-i Vehbi, vve also see many detailecl pictures of the same traclesmen while they were manufacturing goods and making sales. Beclestan usecl to be guardeel by a team of twelve guards. There were other groups of guards in the other sections as well. Each group had a manager as the heacl of that group, also twelve eriers usecl to help them. These managers also had helpers callecl nanpareci and küçükağa in their services. Toclay, the guilds and the way of security are completely gone. After the constitutional monarchy the heacl of guards were also annulled. Kahyas-comes from the vvorcl kethücla (steward)- and masters gathered together and established the community regulations and nameel their community “Umran”. Recently this community vvas re-namecl as “The Grancl Bazaar Care anel Security Community”. The community bireel guards on salaries and ensured to establish a police station in the Bazaar. ‘Vhile the young students were doing these researches, there were twenty guarcls in Grand Bazaar. Two of these guards were in Mücevher Bedestan, one was in Kürkçüler Market and seventeen of tlıem were on duty in seventeen different sections of the Bazaar. Because of the fact that okler medieval arts had withclrawn from the scene in recent years, new goods and new shops dominatecl the Bazaar. Y organcılar replaced Sahaflar Market.

While Zenneciler (Women apparel shops) used to seli used women clothing, today the shops that seli coats, samovars and radios has opened up instead. Kalpakçılar Market has become a completely new covered street market. The quality, kinci and colors of the goods have changed and the stores that seli European anel mass production goods took up the most parts of the Bazaar. The people of the Bazaar say that World W ar I is the main cause of this change in the Bazaar. There is no cloubt that since those times this cause is growing in the favor of modern inclustry. The old richness of the Bazaar has vvcırn away even in the parts where the histarical character of the Bazaar is conserved anel antiques and jewelry is being sold. Most tradesmen groups which used to be managed by stewarcls do not have a community at the moment. Yorgancılar (comforter mamıfacturers and sellers) has a community. The ones who seli used clothing in the t1ea market belong to Tailors Community and jewelers belong to Metal Arts Community. However, towels and unclerwear seli ers’, leather sel! ers’, wool seliers ·, rug sellers’ and etc’s modern communities and unions, which replaced the steward organizations, were not formeeL This is the most important sign of the weakening of our country, which had macle and has to make the transition from older economic system to the new world’s economic life, in the Grand Bazaar just !ike in the whole business world.

Prof.Hilmi Ziya Ülken 

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