An Inquiry into the Ottomans’ Knowledge and Perception of the Gypsies in the late 19th Century , OTAM [Journal of The Center for Ottoman Studies], vol. 34, 2014, p. 245-256.

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"An Inquiry into the Ottomans’ Knowledge and Perception of the Gypsies in the late 19th Century", OTAM [Journal of The Center for Ottoman Studies], vol. 34, 2014, p. 245-256.
  OTAM, 34/Güz 2013, 245-256  An Inquiry into the Ottomans’ Knowledge and Perception of the Gypsies in the late 19 th  Century 19. yüzy ı l Sonlar ı nda Osmanl ı lar ı n Çingeneler Konusundaki Bilgileri ve Çingene Alg ı s ı  Üzerine Bir  Ara ş t ı rma Ömer Ulusoy   Özet Bu çal  ı ş ma 19. yüzy   ı l sonlar  ı nda Osmanl  ı lar  ı n Çingeneler üzerine neler bildiklerini ve onlar  ı  nas  ı l alg   ı lad  ı klar  ı n  ı /tan  ı mlad  ı klar  ı n  ı  sorgulamay   ı  amaçlamaktad  ı r. Bu do ğ  rultuda üç farkl  ı  metin incelenecektir. İ lk metin, kurgusal olup hem popüler hem de bilimsel bilgiler içeren çok yönlü yazar Ahmet Mithat Efendi’nin Çingene   (1887) isimli roman  ı d  ı r. Mérimée’den esinlenen Ahmet Mithat roman  ı nda her ne kadar Çingenelere kar ş  ı  toplumda var olan önyarg   ı lar  ı  geçersiz k   ı lmay   ı  hedeflese de, bunu yaparken Avrupal  ı  yazarlar  ı n metinlerinde ayn  ı  dönemlerde s  ı kl  ı kla rastlanan stereotipleri yeniden üretmektedir. İ kinci metin akademik olarak nitelendirilebilecek ve dolay   ı s  ı yla bilimsel bir de ğ  eri olan Ş emseddin Sami’nin Kamûsü'l-a    l  â m   adl  ı  özel adlar sözlü ğ  ündeki   (1891) “Çingâne” maddesidir. 19. yüzy   ı l Bat  ı l  ı la ş ma ruhuyla örtü ş ür bir biçimde Ş emseddin Sami’nin “Çingâne” maddesini kaleme al  ı rken k   ı smî olarak yararland  ı ğ   ı  Avrupal  ı  ansiklopedistlerin yaratt  ı klar  ı  olumsuz Çingene imgesini kendi önyarg   ı lar  ı yla birle ş tirerek yeniden üretti ğ  i görülmektedir. Üçüncü metin, yazar  ı  taraf   ı ndan da öne sürüldü ğ  ü üzere ki ş isel bilgi ve deneyimlerden yola ç  ı k   ı larak üretilen bilginin bir ürünü olup, 1891’de Çingenelerin ya ş am ko ş ullar  ı n  ı n iyile ş tirilmesi gereklili ğ  inin belirtilerek yerel yönetime sunulan Siroz mekteb-i i   dâdî-i mülkiyesi lisân-  ı  ‘Osmânî ve Fârisî mu   allimi Sa‘di Efendi’nin lâyihas  ı d  ı r. Sa‘di Efendi’nin metni tamam  ı yla ki ş isel deneyimlere dayand  ı ğ   ı ndan, di ğ  er iki Bat  ı  esinli metinde ortaya konulan Çingene alg   ı s  ı n  ı  Do ğ  ulu yerel olan ile kar ş  ı la ş t  ı rma olana ğ   ı  sa ğ  layacakt  ı r. Ayn  ı  dönemde kaleme al  ı nan  ve yaz  ı l  ı ş  amaçlar  ı  farkl  ı l  ı k gösteren bu üç metnin kar ş  ı la ş t  ı r  ı lmas  ı  sadece    Research Assistant, Ankara University, Faculty of Letters, Department of French Language and Literature, e-mail: oulusoy@ankara.edu.tr  .  This article is an extended version of the paper presented at the Gypsy Lore Society  Annual International Conference in Romani, Gypsy and Traveller Studies which took place on 12-13 September 2013 at the University of Strathclyde-Glasgow.  ÖMER ULUSOY 246Çingene alg   ı s  ı  ve bu toplulu ğ  un Osmanl  ı   İ mparatorlu ğ  u’ndaki ya ş am ko ş ullar  ı na dair ek bilgiler vermekle kalmayacak, ayn  ı  zamanda Osmanl  ı lar taraf   ı ndan nas  ı l bilindikleri ve daha da önemlisi nas  ı l tan  ı mland  ı klar  ı  konular  ı na  ı ş  ı k tutacakt  ı r. Her üç metindeki benzerlikler asl  ı nda Osmanl  ı  toplumunda Çingenelere kar ş  ı  varolan önyarg   ı lar  ı n ne kadar derin olduklar  ı n  ı n görülmesi sonucuna var  ı lmas  ı na olanak sa ğ  lamaktad  ı r.  Anahtar Kelimeler: Çingeneler, Önyarg   ı , Stereotip, Osmanl  ı ’da Çingene alg   ı s  ı , Çingenelik.  Abstract  This paper aims to inquire the knowledge and the perception of the Ottomans on the Gypsy in the late 19 th  century. Three different texts will be examined in order to shed light on what the Ottomans knew about Gypsies during the aforementioned period. The first one, a fictional one, embodying both popular and scholarly knowledge is the novel Gypsy- Çingene (1887) of the prolific Ottoman author Ahmet Mithat Efendi.  Ahmet Mithat, inspired by Mérimée, attempts to refute the prejudices against the Gypsies in his novel, albeit through the reproduction of the conventional Gypsy image found in the European texts of the 19 th  century. The second text, representing scholarly knowledge reclaiming scientific value, belongs to Ş emseddin Sami (Fraschery) Efendi and is the “Gypsy-Çingâne” entry in his famous encyclopaedia- Kamûsü'l-a    l  â m (1891). As a result of modernization and westernization, the text of Ş emseddin Sami reproduces the negative image of the Gypsies generated by his European counterparts on whose texts he partially bases his work and on which he transposes his own prejudices. The last text based on practical and personal knowledge as it is claimed by its author, is a lengthy and detailed report (1891) underlining the urgency of improving the living conditions of the Gypsy population, submitted to the authorities by Sa‘di Efendi, an Ottoman-Turkish and Persian teacher at a secondary school in Serres-Greece. The report of Professor Sa‘di, as the only text to be written based on the personal experience of its author,  will provide an opportunity to compare the local-eastern perception of Gypsies to the two other western-oriented texts. The analysis of these texts bearing three different kinds of knowledge and having thus three different objectives, will not only offer complementary information on the perception of Gypsies and on their living conditions in the Ottoman Empire, but will also throw light on how they were known and more importantly defined by the Ottomans: a definition more or less common in all three texts which shows how deeply rooted the prejudices against the Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire were.  Keywords:   Gypsies, Prejudices, Stereotypes, Ottoman Gypsy Perception, Gypsyness.    ...THE OTTOMANS’ KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION OF THE GYPSIES...   (OTAM, 34/Güz 2013)   247 By the arrival of the Turks at Anatolia, Gypsies had already been dwelling for a considerable time in the realms of the Byzantine Empire which was going to progressively leave its place to the Ottomans. From its establishment to its disappearance, the Gypsies lived among the various ethnic groups under Ottoman rule. Named as Çingâne   or Çingene  , after the Greek  Άτσίγγανοι   [Atsinkani] 1  or as K   ı btî since they were considered, as it was in other countries, to have come from Egypt 2 , the Ottomans’ knowledge on Gypsies seems to be limited generally to legal issues and mostly regarding taxation. Thus by the study of the tax registers, one can establish statistical and geographical data about the members of the Gypsy communities and can find information on Gypsies who lived in the Ottoman Empire only regarding their perception as tax payers. This information without doubt enables the historian to understand how the Ottoman state viewed the Gypsies and based on such data, we are well informed about the principal occupations of the Gypsies, as they were paying their taxes on their income, and their locations where they were found in big numbers. However, when it comes to the Ottomans’ knowledge concerning the srcins of the Gypsies, their life style, etc. the official documents are generally lacking information.  The first text written in Ottoman Turkish giving information on Gypsies regarding their srcins or on their characteristics, for instance, dates back to the second half of the 17 th  century, a date almost more than two centuries after the first mention of the Gypsies in official documents 3 . It is Evliya Çelebi, the well-known Ottoman traveller who informs us on Gypsies in his monumental 1  George C. Soulis, “The Gypsies in the Byzantine Empire and the Balkans in the Late Middle Age”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers  , vol. 15, 1961, pp. 144. 2  Angus M. Fraser, The Gypsies  , Oxford, UK/Cambridge, Mass. USA, Blackwell, 1992, 48; Jean-Pierre Liégeois, Roms en Europe  , Strasbourg, Editions du Conseil de l ’ Europe, janvier 2007, p. 18; Michael Jan de Goeje,  Mémoire sur les migrations des Tsiganes à travers l’Asie  , Leide, E. J. Brill (coll. « Mémoires d'histoire et de géographie orientales par M. J. de Goeje, n°3), 1903, pp. 74-75. 3  The first mention of the Gypsies dates back to the reign of Mehmet II (1453-81) and it is found in a regulation on the number of the sheep of the Rumelian Turkish tribes (and a law on Gypsies). The transcription and English and French versions of the said regulation (and law) in question are largely reproduced, see: Ahmed Akgündüz, Osmanl  ı   Kanunnâmeleri ve Hukukî Tahlilleri: Osmanl  ı   Hukukuna Giri  ş   ve Fatih Devri Kanunnâmeleri  , İ stanbul, Fey Vakf   ı  Yay   ı nlar  ı , 1990, vol. I, pp. 397-400 (in facsimile and transcription); Nicoar ǎ  Beldiceanu, Les actes des premiers sultans conservés dans les manuscrits turcs de la Bibliothèque nationale à Paris  , Paris/La Haye, Mouton, vol. I, 1960, pp. 102-104 (French  version); Robert Anhegger, Halil İ nalc  ı k (eds.), K  ā  n  ū  nn  ā  me-i Sult  ā  n  ī   ber M  ū  ceb-i ‘Örf-i ‘Osm  ā  n  ī   : II. Mehmed ve II. Bayezid Devirlerine ait Yasakn  ā  me ve K  ā  n  ū  nn  ā  meler  , Ankara, TTK, 1956, pp. 39-40 (transcription) ; Faika Çelik, “Gypsies (Roma) in the orbit of Islam: the Ottoman experience (1450-1600)” (unpublished MA thesis), Montreal, McGill University, August 2003, pp. 94-100 (in facsimile, transcription and English version) ; Oral Onur, « Çingeneler », Tarih ve Toplum  , 137, May 1995, pp. 16-22 (transcription).  ÖMER ULUSOY 248 Seyahatname   – Book of Travels. Here we find information on Gypsies which can be qualified as common knowledge full of clichés. In accordance with the common belief at the time in Europe, the Gypsies of Evliya are srcinally from Egypt. As for their general characteristics, Gypsies speak the “languages of the countries where they are settled” 4 , they are cursed people who had to leave Egypt and “were scattered abroad, condemned to wander from clime to clime and from town to town, hungry and homeless, dwelling in the mountains and  valleys, and raiding and thieving” 5 . They are described as “tyrannical, good-for-nothing, thieving, irreligious people – they pretend to be Muslims, but are not even infidels!” 6 . Considering Evliya’s personal position as a servant of the central authority,  who would identify himself as a good Sunni Muslim, his discriminatory description of the Gypsies is not at all surprising, especially since the traveller’s attitude towards other ethnic groups of the Empire, such as Kurds, Jews, Greeks, Laz, etc., can easily be defined as ethnic stereotyping as Robert Dankoff demonstrates in his work on Evliya Çelebi  7 . Nevertheless, it would be rather too optimistic to consider that Evliya’s perception of the Gypsies was limited to the man himself. As a matter of fact, as Demetrius Cantemir, the Prince of the Ottoman vassal state of Moldavia in his  System or the Structure of the  Muhammadan Religion   describes, Evliya’s perception of the Gypsies as irreligious or unreliable people could be considered quite common among the Ottoman  Turks. According to Cantemir: The Turks and together with them the other Muslims say that people of the Gypsies are related with Pharaohs, [...] having no knowledge of letters, books and any other divine human law, [they are] spread all over the world, by the mercy and the commandment of God. The Gypsies who believe in Muhammad consider themselves to be perfectly pious by this only title, but beside this; they do not look for the commandments and the conditions of the Law; they ignore all of it without doing or  preserving the Law says; there are no prayers of any kind, no fasts and they don’t want to even hear about Mecca; instead of sympathy they commit larcenies, frauds, charms and witch crafts [...]. 8   4  Victor A. Friedman, Robert Dankoff, “The earliest known text in Balkan (Roumelian) Romani : A passage from Evliya Çelebi’s Sey  ā hat-n ā me”,  JGLS  , vol. 5, n° 1, 1991, p.4. 5   Ibid  ., p. 5. 6   Ibid  . 7  Robert Dankoff,  An Ottoman mentality: The World of Evliya Çelebi  , 2 nd  edition. Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2006, p.67. 8  Ana Opri ş an, “An overwiev of the Romanlar in Turkey”, Adrian Marsh, Elin Strand (eds.), Gypsies and the Problem of Identities: Contextual, Constructed and Contested: Papers  presented at the First International Romani Studies Conference in Istanbul, at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, April 10-12, 2003 , Istanbul, Mas, Transactions Series vol. 17, 2006, p. 167 (pp. 163-169).  ...THE OTTOMANS’ KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION OF THE GYPSIES...   (OTAM, 34/Güz 2013)   249  As Suraiya Faroqhi points out, the work of Cantemir was “enriched by copious notes reflecting the Istanbul folklore” 9 . Furthermore, as an intellectual  who “had lived in Istanbul for decades, spoke and read Ottoman and had been in contact with many educated Istanbullus” 10  with an “intimate knowledge” “on Ottoman life and institutions” 11  Cantemir, even though there is no proof to confirm his sources, might have been quite familiar with the accounts of Evliya  who half a century before was suggesting the same srcin with a similar attitude to describe Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire.  Apart from Evliya’s, describing Gypsies’ srcins, life, characteristics and reflecting their perception in the Empire, there is no other text, except for the books of European travellers 12 , to be found on the subject revealing the Ottoman view. It is only after the second half of the 19 th  century that we come across texts dealing with Gypsies. Referred to as “the longest century of the Empire” 13 , the 19 th  century on the whole for the Ottomans and the Ottoman historiography represents a period of reform and change during which the Empire underwent an important modernization and westernization process. As a result of the reforms undertaken, the Ottoman intelligentsia   became quite familiar with the European way of life. Europe served during this period as an example not only for political and military purposes, but also in architecture, science and arts. The European country by excellence that was taken as an example, especially in the fields of arts and sciences, was France. Thus, it is quite common to find French influence in the works of the Ottoman men of pen. This is also valid regarding the texts written on Gypsies by the Ottomans in the second half of the 19 th  century. Following a historical chronology, the first text reflecting Ottoman’s knowledge on Gypsies, belongs to the prolific Ottoman playwright, novelist and journalist Ahmet Mithat Efendi. In his novella The Gypsy   published for the 9  Suraiya Faroqhi, The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It  , London/New York, I. B.  Tauris, 2005, p. 56. 10   Ibid  . 11  Halil İ nalc  ı k, “Foreword”, in Dimitrie Cantemir, Historian of South East European and Oriental Civilizations  . Alenxandru Dutu & Paul Cernovodeanu (eds.), Bucharest,  Association internationale d’études du sud-est européen, 1973, p. 9. 12  The European travellers, especially the French, give non-negligible information on the Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire and on their perception by the Ottoman State and society from the mid-sixteenth century on. As this article deals with the Ottomans’ knowledge on the Gypsies they weren’t integrated in the study. For more information concerning the European accounts on Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire and also on Gypsies’ social and judicial status in the Empire, with an emphasis on the 19 th  century, see: Ömer Ulusoy, Les Etres en marge: les Tsiganes de l’Empire ottoman  , İ stanbul, Les Editions Isis, 2013. 13   İ lber Ortayl  ı , İ  mparatolu   ğ  un En Uzun Yüzy  ı  l  ı  , 3 rd  edition. Istanbul, Hil, 1995.
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