The 1720 Imperial Circumcision Celebrations in Istanbul

Festivity and Representation in the Early Eighteenth Century


The 1720 Imperial Circumcision Celebrations in Istanbul offers the first holistic examination of an Ottoman public festival through an in-depth inquiry into different components of the 1720 event. Through a critical and combined analysis of the hitherto unknown archival sources along with the textual and pictorial narratives on the topic, the book vividly illustrates the festival’s organizational details and preparations, its complex rites (related to consumption, exchange, competition), and its representation in court-commissioned illustrated festival books (sūrnāmes).
To analyze all these phases in a holistic manner, the book employs an interdisciplinary approach by using the methodological tools of history, art history, and performance studies and thus, provides a new methodological and conceptual framework for the study of Ottoman celebrations.

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Sinem Erdoğan İşkorkutan, Ph.D. (2017), Boğaziçi University, Department of History, published articles on early modern Ottoman history and art history, and recently co-edited a special journal volume on Ottoman celebrations and festivals.
Note on Transliteration and Translation
List of Figures and Tables
 1The Reign of Ahmed III and the 1720 Festival
 2Historiographical Framework
 3Previous Research on Ottoman Festivals
 4This Book
1Preparing the Festival
 1In Search of Utensils
 1.1Borrowing From Court Institutions and Purchasing From the Market
 1.2Borrowing Utensils From Officials and City Dwellers
 2Food Provisioning
 3Making Nahils and Candy Gardens
 3.1Officials, Merchants, and Craftsmen Working Together
 4Registering the Names of Uncircumcised Boys and Performers
 4.1Boys Registered for the Circumcision
 4.2Performers Registered for the Festival
2Staging the Festival
 1Food-Related Events
 1.1Distribution of Food Allowances
 1.2Donations Through Food
 1.3“They Ate His Food, Drank His Sherbet”: Imperial Banquets
 2Spectacles on Land and Sea
 2.1Marvelous Shows Enacted
 2.2Some Events as Performances
 2.3Guild Parades
 3.1Monetary Gifts to Attendants and Performers
 3.2Robes of Honor to Dignitaries and Officials
 3.3Providing Circumcision and Clothing for Boys
 3.4A Piece of Jewelry or a Simple Candlestick: Obligatory Gifts Presented to the Sultan
3Representing the Festival
 1Commissioning Process of the Illustrated Sūrnāmes
 1.1Supervision of the Project
 1.2Painters Working for the Illustrated Sūrnāmes
 1.3The 1720 Festival Paintings in the Ottoman Book Painting Tradition
 2Iconography and Image-Making
 3Narrating the 1720 Festival in Imagery
 3.1Serial Images of Processions and Guild Parades
 3.2Narrating the Public Celebrations of the 1720 Festival in Imagery
Selected Bibliography
All interested in the history of Ottoman Empire, art history, festivals and celebrations, and those interested in performance studies, folklore, and history of material culture.
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