Notes on 19th Century Istanbul-Friday

Joined Feb 3, 2010
All of the excerpts below tell his own times, from the eyes of an old baker named, Hagop Mintzuri. I recommend you to read throughly the book of this Ottoman, who aspired to be a writer and wrote his own book one day. It lays before our eyes the late Ottoman Empire downtown culture, commons perception, and the streets; you almost feel as if you get in the scene there...

Source :
Istanbul Memories (1897-1940)
Hagop Mintzuri
History Foundation of Turkey - Yurt Publications
Tarih Vakfý

" ... Every friday it was a feast in Besiktas. Sinan Pasha Mosque and all of annexes were jam-packed with people to the yard. You would think that the crowd of these practicing, devout people was because of a feast.

That day of the week, the blind singer of the desert would pass by, copper skinned, half naked. Two clefts on two eyes, left hand open, a stick in right hand. Getting his voice as high as possible, he was reciting verses from Qoran. The passer-byes were pausing; petrified, they were listening to. Though whatever he said was not understandable; but they were coming close to him and dropping money in his hand.

Then Double Blinds were coming. With closed eyes, side by side. Their left hands open, sticks in the right ones, they were walking with careful steps : One was begging "Brother sirs, sister madams, may Allah save your kids and beloved ones from visible-invisible all every trouble. We need your alms”. When he stopped, the other was raising his voice and saying "Allah... Allahu ekber" with a stress. The passer-by men, veiled women were, stopped, coming close and giving their alms.

A deaf-mute was showing up at the mosque square. He didn’t have a name. With his slim, long face, and weird eyes, he was like a monkey rather than a man. His mustaches were upright like spikes. Neither young, nor old. He was worn a red broadcloth Albanian bolero, and baggy knickers below. Who was taking care of him? He wasn’t speaking, so he could tell. Walking around, even he himself was not aware in which direction he was going. By beating his lips with his fingers, he was playing kind of an instrument, saying "Av.. av.. av..". When he came before the syrup peddler, he was being given a glass of syrup to drink. He was going to the halva peddler, and they were giving halva; he was eating that as well. It was a sin to refuse a treat. Nobody knew where from he was. He was sleeping in mosque at nights.

Another one, the Albanian Hodja was popping up, with a black gown and white turban. He was mentally unstable. Whenever he saw a newspaper or a piece of paper on ground, he was getting pissed off. It was a sin to tread paper. He was collecting them and plugging in the holes of the walls, yelling in Albanian ‘Cursed, you cursed...’. He didn’t know Turkish... “
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