The Slave Market

47In the part where Osman Boztepe, a senior tradesman, tells some of his memories during his interview in Bedestan in 1947, Cemaleddin Bildik explains how the tradesmen of the Bazaar figure out the economic status of the customers. Indeed, many tradesmen stili have the same ability. A tradesman who knows about all the brand names can figure out the financial status of his customers by looking at the quality of the clothing and accessories they wear. This older tradesman Osman Boztepe talks about the black giı·ls who followed the women right behind in those days. He says that those girls were purchased for 10 Ottoman liras. It is surprising that the slave trade had lasted until the times of Osman Boztepe although it was forbidden a long time ago. Çelik Gülersoy also gives information about the “Slave Trade” in his book. I am quoting the information as the way it is in his book while remembering him with grace and mercy: “We know that the slave market used to be located right outside the Grand Bazaar, in a single-storey inn with a courtyard on the road that goes from Nur-u Osmaniye to Çemberlitaş. However, there is information in many reliable sources referring that the trade of slaves also took place inside the Bazaar. (The human trade is such an odd and opposite term for us today. This disturbing feeling was felt by the French writer and politician La Martin while he was strolling around the slave market. While this fine writer was thinking over the fact that how slavery seems impossible to us now while it was normal centuries ago and comes to the interesting idea: who knows how many of the things we do now will bring a shame to the future generations.) An old German itinerant Johann Wild is one of the people who gives us definite information about the slave trade in the Grand Bazaar.

We have to consider what he wrote correct because he himself was traded here! He writes that in 1604 he was brought to İstanbul as a prisoner. When his pasha master dies after a short time, he was brought to the bedestan and was sold via a crier for sixty dukas after three hours of effort. During Wild’s return trip from Egypt where he is traded a few times, he clearly expresses the men and women trade in Bedestan while he gives updated information at the end of his book about İstanbul where he comes again after seven years. Since he talks about the Slave Market in Nur-u Osmaniye after a few lines, the information he gives could not be mistaken about the locations. As a local source, histarian Latifi gives more amusing and comprehensive information .. . ” After all, it would not make any sense if the slave market was only located outside the Bazaar because the Bazaar was the center of everything. Perhaps the most important reason of the Sandal Bedestan being called “Sultan Auction” was because the slave trade was done by auctioning. Possibly most of the woman slaves were taken to the palace from here.

Çelik Gülersoy

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