H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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partment, the shoemakers one, the saddlers one. and so on
without end. Every street is an arcade painted with flowers
and inscriptions from the Koran ; the light comes down from
the ceiling. Shop is joined to shop, and each seems like an
inverted chest, in the back of which an opening is cut in the
thick wall, where the goods not exposed to view are kept.

The Egyptians' quarter Missr-tscharschussi seems like
a complete apothecary's shop, extending through two streets.
All the spices of India and Arabia, medicinal herbs, and val-
uable colors, exhale a mixed odor. A tawny Egyptian in a
long talar stands behind the counter ; he looks like the figures
of an alchemist, such as we have been accustomed to see de-
lineated in prints.

Another arcade has the appearance of being the entrance
hall to the world's armory. Here is the saddlers' arcade ; sad-
dles and bridles of morocco leather and buffalo's skin, from
the most exquisite and curiously sewed, to the simplest and
almost clumsy, hang on the walls, and are spread out on the
counters and floor.

Another arcade is the jewelers'. Gold chains glitter, brace-
lets sparkle, valuable rings and precious jewels dazzle the eye.

2 30


We are now got amongst a mass of perfumers ; here is a
scent of oil of roses, musk-bags, incense, and odorous rats'-tails.
We enter the next arcade, and see nothing but boots and
shoes in all colors, and of all forms ; slippers glittering with
pearls and beautiful embroidery. Another arcade crosses this,
and is filled with all kinds of linen-drapers' and mercers' wares
such as muslins, handkerchiefs embroidered with large golden
flowers, splendid stuffs, etc. The next arcade glitters with
arms, Damascus blades, daggers, knives, guns, and pistols.

It is highly interesting to regard the characteristic manner*
in which each nation manifests itself. The Turk sits seriou
and majestic, with the long pipe in his mouth ; the Jew and
the Greek are bustling ; they shout and wink ; meanwhile the
varied mass moves along through these crossing arcades. Per-
sians, with pointed hairy caps ; Armenians with inverted cone-
shaped black hats ; Bulgarians in sheepskin mantles ; Jews
with ragged shawl around the black high-crowned turban ;
smart Greeks, and veiled women. Here is a crowd ; and in the
midst of all this there rides a Turk of distinction, who neither
looks to the right nor left.

On a given signal in the evening, the sellers and buyers de-
part. A sort of watchman, to whom the charge of guarding
the bazaars is intrusted, locks all the entrances, and opens
them again next morning at a fixed time ; the sellers then find
their shops just as they left them. Even during the day a sin-
gle shop is never closed, otherwise than by the owner hanging
a net before it ; or he draws a few pieces of pack-thread across,
for there no one ventures to steal. The magnificent shops of
the Palais Royal, in comparison with the bazaars of Constan-
tinople, are as a richly dressed grisette compared to the
daughter of the East in her rich stuffs, with her hair shedding
the perfumes of attar of roses and myrrh.



WE have seen the bazaars, the heart of ancient Stamuoul \
we will now take a short ramble and begin with what was for-
merly called a " forbidden road " for the Christian, namely, the
female slave-market ; then to one of the mosques, the permis-
sion to enter which is now easily obtained : but the presents
that are to be given to the different persons in office from
whom this permission proceeds amount to not a small sum
of money ; still amongst the strangers in Pera there is often
an ambassador, or rich man, who willingly pays this tribute.
The guides always know the particulars, and then we apply to
him who has the granting of the permission, which is always
given for the person and suite.

Thus we now belong to the suite of a rich American ; but
we must go on horseback, for it looks more pompous, and the
Turks pay great regard to pomp and magnificence. A few
soldiers, also mounted, accompany the procession.

Not far from the great bazaar, we come to a place surrounded
by wooden buildings, forming an open gallery ; the jutting roof
is supported by rough beams ; inside, along the gallery, are
small chambers where traders stow their goods, and these
goods are human beings black and white female slaves.

We are now in the square ; the sun shines ; rush mats are
spread out under the green trees, and there sit and lie Asia's
daughters. A young mother gives the breast to her child,
and they will separate these two. On the stairs leading to the
gallery sits a young negress not more than fourteen years of
age ; she is almost naked ; an old Turk regards her. He has
taken one of her legs in his hand ; she laughs, and shows her
shining white teeth.

Do not veil the beautiful white women, thou hideous old
wretch ; it is these we wish to see ; drive them not into the
cage ; we shall not, as thou thinkest, abash them with bold eyes.

See ! a young Turk with fiery looks ; four slaves follow him ;
two old Jewesses are trading with him. Some charming
Tscherkasier girls have come ; he will see them dance, hear



them sing, and then choose and buy ! He could give us a de-
scription of the slave-market, such as we are not able to offer.
He follows the old women to behold the earth's houris ; and
how do they look ? The Turkish poet Ibn Karib has sung
about the heavenly beings, and of these we perhaps dare hear,
remembering that he borrowed the picture from the earthly.

" Know, a houri is a beauty, black of eye and white of cheek ;

Eyebrows small, lashes long ; her locks with fragrant odors teem ;
Varied brightness dwells in each, just like pearls in mussel shells,
Their lustre changes every minute ! Here is color without equal,
Here is beauty, here is grace ; here are heaven's choicest roses !
The mountain's snow and ocean's foam of their whiteness are ashamed,
No earthly fruits, nor earthly roses, can these cheeks and mouth resem-

What are pearls and what are jewels to the foot's musk-dust compared ?
Some are dark and others light, like two species of bright rubies :
This gives only stolen glances, the other sends them in long looks.
If a houri showed herself here, earth would stand in rays of light ;
If she had her lips half opened, man would praise th' Almighty's power.
More than worlds the veil conceals, for it does her eyes secrete :
Formed of light the houris are, and cannot like the dust be changed.
Always young, always ! "

But we shall do best to ride away from Ibn Katib and Con-
stantinople's slave-market !

We stop at the Church of St. Sophia ; it is a heavy, irregular
building. Constantine the Great had it erected and conse-
crated to the holy wisdom, " Aja Sophia." Rare and sin-
gular relics were preserved here : the Samaritan well ; three
doors covered with planks from Noah's ark ; the angels'
trumpets, said to have been used at the siege of Jericho:
but these curiosities have disappeared. Aja Sophia sank
twice under the flames, and once by an earthquake, but always
rose again in renewed splendor. On the nights of the Rama-
zan, when the almost flat cupola is illuminated with ostrich
egg lamps, and the whole congregation in motley splendor lie
outstretched on their faces, the church flatters itself with vis-
ions of the coronations of emperors, espousals, synods, and
church meetings ; it dreams of that night of terror when its
gates were forced, and the Christian altars profaned ; it still
hears the sound of "There is but one God and Moham-
med is his prophet!" as it heard it that night from the lips


of the emperor Mohammed when it was transformed into a

What strange dreams the history of whole generations
'of mankind are enacted there, as though they were reali-
ties ! Perhaps thou also dreamest of the future, Aja Sophia!
or hast a foreboding like that which moves amongst the people
within. Shall the obliterated Cross on the door again be re-
newed ? Shall the altar be removed from the corner toward
Mecca, and take its place again toward the East ? The Mus-
sulman points to a walled-up door in the uppermost gallery of
the church and whispers a tradition from that night, when a
Christian priest was hewed down before the altar behind this
door. If the Christians once more become masters here, and
Ishmael's race pass into Asia, which already holds its dead,
every stone in the doorway will fall, and the Christian priest
will stand there again and sing the mass in which he stopped
when the death-blow struck him. When the mass is ended
the dead priest will vanish, and Christian hymns sound through
the church.

It is strange to wander here, followed by armed men, and
regarded with angry looks by the praying visitants, as if we
were excommunicated spirits.

Magnificent pillars are seen here. The eight of porphyry
once stood under the cupola of the Temple of the Sun in Baal-
bee ; the green were brought from the Temple of Diana in
Ephesus. We read under the cupola, in letters twelve feet
long, an inscription from the Alcoran : " God is the light of
heaven and earth ! "

Look not so angrily at us, thou old priest ; thy God is also
our God ! Nature's temple is the joint house of God for us ;
thou kneelest toward Mecca ; we toward the East ! " God
is the light of heaven and earth ! " He enlightens every mind
and every heart !

We depart from Aja Sophia ; a short street leads us to Al-
meidan, the largest and handsomest square in Constantinople.
Yet it was once far more splendid.

Here was the Hippodrome which Constantine ornamented
with colonnades and statues ; here stood the proud bronze
horses, that now find a place in Venice over the entrance to


St. Mark's Church; 1 here stood the colossal statue of Her-
cules, every finger of which was equal to a man in circumfer-
ence. Only three monuments of former times are now to be
found here. The first is a little column formed of three en-
twined copper snakes. They were once the pedestal for the
oracle's tripod in Delphi ; the Turks regarded it as a talisman
for the Greek kingdom, and therefore Mohammed II. cut off
the head of one of the snakes, with his battle-axe ; the Eng-
lish stole the two others, and the Turkish boys now use the
ore-green remains as a target.

A few paces from hence rises an obelisk of porphyry, cov-
ered with hieroglyphics ; it came from Egypt through Athens ;
and it stands unchanged, as if protected by the invisible
gods of Egypt

The third monument here is a square stone column of im-
mense size. It threatens to fall. It is Constantine's pillar,
and was once covered with plates of gilded copper ; we now
see only the iron rings that held them together.

These are the remains of the Hippodrome's splendor. Yet
this is still the finest place in the city : its extent, and the
Mosque of Sultan Achmet, blind our eyes. Behind the shin-
ing white wall, with the gilt trellised windows, there are high
plantains and cypresses ; within the walls, by the gilded
grave-columns, are splashing fountains. It is a little grove,
where the Mussulmen and women pace silently. The broad
steps lead up to Achmet's Mosque, where all is marble
even the six high minarets, lifting their balustrades one above
the other, and ornamented with carved railings : golden balls
glitter on the cupolas ; the Crescent shines on the minarets ;
it is beautiful to behold.

And yet we depart from it. A crooked little street leads
us to a fantastic building, where everything is marble and
gold. See how it shines against the blue, transparent air.
Plantains, cypresses, and flowering rose-hedges form a little
garden behind the ornamented walls, with splendid windows,
and artificial carvings. The building itself is certainly Fata

1 They came from Athens to Chios, then to Constantinople ; from thence
thiy were taken to Venice. Napoleon had them brought to Paris ; and
now they are again in Venice.



Morgana's own bed-chamber, it is so light and airy, though
built of marble. The columns, cornice, and roof beam with
ornaments and colors. We ascend the stairs, which go round
the whole building ; we look through the large panes, between
a gilt trellis, and see a round, airy house ; the eye is blinded
with the magnificence of the East ! Is it a bridal-chamber for
the first Pasha of the land ? No, it is a tomb ! It is Sultan
Mahmoud's tomb. 1 In the middle of the floor stands his cof-
fin, covered with valuable shawls of various colors ; his rich
turban glittering with jewels and with a feather that seems
plaited of rays, is laid on the coffin where his head rests.
Small coffins stand around it in a circle ; in each of them re-
poses one of his children ; they are all hidden by rich carpets.
Two priests stare at us, and raise their hands in a threaten-
ing posture : " The Christian man must not see a Believer's
grave ! " say they ; the censer swings, and the blue smoke of
the incense rises in the sunbeams toward the splendid roof.

A tent was spread over Mahmoud's coffin, after they had
brought it hither. Rich and poor were permitted to enter ;
old men wept, so beloved was he : he who had overthrown the
Janizaries, and introduced the discipline and clothing of the
Franks. The building was, meanwhile, erected around the
tent, as we now see it. When the cupola was placed, and
when the Crescent shone in the sun's rays, the tent was first
taken from over the coffin, which was wet with tears.

But now we are tired of rambling and sight-seeing ; there
is a day to-morrow, when we will go to the caravanserai
that mighty stone colossus which contains the rich wares from
the cities of Asia. We will go to the magnificent aqueduct,
where the creeping plants hang between the large square
stones ; we will visit a Turkish bath : 2 nay, perhaps try one.

See, this is our day's ramble in Constantinople !

1 Abdul Medjid's father.

2 The bathing-houses have cupolas like the mosques, into which the
light descends through large glass bells. In the foremost saloon, where
we undress, there is a fountain, and along the walls there are divans ; we
enter through a warmer room into the bathing saloon, which is of marble,
with high columns. The floor is heated, so that we must walk in wooden
slippers a hot steam fills the whole saloon.




IT is well known that the Turks, speaking generally, regard
all imbecile persons as inspired by a divine spirit Therefore
the insane have places in the mosques. The terrible Isani
are objects of respect and awe ; the Dervises are included in
this category by reason of their dance, which is a positive self-
torture. They chew a sort of intoxicating root, which in-
creases their delirium.

The dervises who have their cloister in Scutari are called
" Ruhanis," which signifies " the howling." The dervises in
Pera are named " Mewlewis," that is, " the turning." They
usually dance on Thursdays and Fridays. I have seen these
dances, and will try to give a description of them, and of the
impression the whole ceremony, in their cloister, made on me.

A traveller, with whom I sailed over to Scutari to see the
Dervises, prepossessed me particularly by his accounts of the
dance of the Isani, which resemble them. The traveller came
from Tripoli, where, as on the whole coast of Africa, in all the
mosques there are found, under a sort of guard, whole crowds
of these creatures. On a certain day in the year it is made
known that the Isani will dance through the streets, and then
every one locks his door. No Christian or Jew ventures out,
or he might, on meeting this wild procession, although it is
under guard, be torn to pieces alive. Dogs, cats, every fowl
that comes in their way, they tear to pieces, swallowing the
reeking limbs.

" I was last year, on that very day (the day for the insane)
in Tripoli," said the stranger. " I obtained a place on the
flat roof of our Consul's house. All the gates and doors in
the street were well fastened ; the procession approached ; a
crowd of well-armed horse soldiers surrounded the furious
mob, which, with the exception of a belt, were completely
naked. Their long, jet-black hair hung down over their shoul-
ders. They made strange little jumps, and uttered a wild
howl, constantly throwing the head forward, and then back
again, so that the long hair sometimes concealed the face, and



sometimes fluttered about with frightful wildness. The hor
rid screams were accompanied by the music of drums and
bagpipes ; and as they sprang forward, they now and then
stooped down, took up a loose flint, and cut deep gashes in
their breasts and arms with it In order to see the wildness
of the Isanis, we ordered a Moorish slave to bind a living goat
outside the house where we stood. As the crowd came on,
the Moor was directed to kill the animal : he stuck his dagger
into its neck, and then sprang in behind the door. The goat
sprawled in its blood, and at the same time, the howling Isa-
nis pressed forward. One of them thrust his hand into the
bleeding wound, lifted the goat up with a howl, tore it in
pieces, and flung the bleeding entrails up against the walls of
the house. The whole crowd fell upon the animal, and liter-
ally ate the flesh, hide, and hair ! "

During this relation we crossed the Bosphorus. I only
repeat what was told me ; and it was the prelude to the fancy
which seized me of going to the cloister, and seeing what was
to be enacted there.

We were now in Scutari, a city that has a hundred and fifty
thousand inhabitants twenty thousand more than Copen-
hagen ; yet it is only regarded as a suburb of Constantinople.
Here everything is old Mohammedan. Here live, if we may
dare to call them so, the orthodox Turks. A few well armed,
half-naked Arabs drove their laden camels from the shore,
through the street, toward the large burial-ground. A long
walk began ; we followed them, and stopped at a remote
corner of the city, at a poor, insignificant house. This was
the dervises' cloister.

The door was not yet open ; we had come too early, and
therefore went to the neighboring cafes which extend straight
np to the immense cypress forest, where the dead rest. A num-
ber of Turks, military and civilian, sat outside the cafes under
the gi een leaf trees. Some of them were here to take part in
the dervises' dance, or, like us, to see it. An ugly old dwarf
sat there ; they said that he was a zealous Ruhani, and that I
should soon see him amongst the dancers. He was said to
be very rich, and had twelve handsome wives in his seraglio.
He had his son with hirr in the cafe a fine boy, who was as
tall as his father.


At length the door of the cloister was opened. We went
over to it, and came into a broad front hall, divided into two
parts by a woolen carpet ; here it looked like the shed before
the out-building where they exhibit wild animals in our pro-
vincial towns. Every one was obliged to pull off his boots
or shoes, which were set up behind the curtain.

My companion, the traveller, who had been in Tripoli,
took a pair of morocco slippers out of his pocket, pulled
them over his boots, and in this manner entered ; but the
Turks looked angrily at him and spoke to themselves. I had
straps sewed fast to my trousers, so that it was difficult to get
the boots off; but as one ought to follow the custom of a
country or fly the land, I took my knife out, at once cut the
straps in two, and walked in like the Turks in my socks. An
old man with a turban on nodded mildly and said something
which my interpreter translated for me, " That I was a good
man who respected their religion, and deserved to be a Turk ! "
" God enlighten thee ! " were his last words.

I now entered the" temple itself, if it can be so called. It
formed a square hall ; above was a well-grated gallery for the
women ; at the bottom was a barrier of rough boards round
about ; within was the dancing place, which for the moment was
covered with red, white, and blue colored skins ; on these lay
a number of dervises on their stomachs. They were clothed in
the customary dress of the Turks, yet there were also many in
the new regulation dresses, military frocks and high, large fez.
They touched the floor with their foreheads ; now and then
they raised their heads ; but as if something terrified them,
they struck their heads quickly down again. I stood in my
socks on the cold stone floor, and shifted the one foot on to
the instep of the other, to get a little warmth in them. It was
by no means pleasant.

Large frames with Turkish inscriptions, and pictures repre-
senting buildings, hung down the centre wall. Here also
hung tambourines, cymbals, and iron scourges with sharp
spikes to tear the skin with. In the middle of the wall was a
niche, which served as an altar, the same as in the mosques ;
in front of this stood an ecclesiastic in blue talar, green tur-
ban, and with a long white beard. He swung a censer with



burning incense, and uttered some Turkish words in a strange,
guttural manner. And now some of them began a song with
chorus, I say a song, but that is not the right word for such
a noise. It was a sound that was something so peculiarly
wild, changing in different rhymes a sort of scale a sin-
gular running up of notes with the throat, quite as a savage
with a musical ear would have imitated a bravura in his way,
after having heard it for the first time. It was more horri-
ble than really inharmonious to hear.

After the dervises had touched the floor several times with
their foreheads, they arose, kissed the priest's hand, and placed
themselves in a semicircle along the barrier that separated
them from the spectators.

The dance began. At the same time there came a man
whose appearance was calculated to excite the greatest horror I
have ever as yet seen any human being capable of producing.
He was accompanied by two dervises from Pera, so easily
known by their high crowned felt hats without a brim. I have
never seen a man in whom insanity was so clearly visible in
the eyes as this. The other dancers had laid their turbans
and fez in the niche, and each had put on a white felt calot or
cap ; it was in such a one that the madman entered, who, my
guide informed me, was a hermit from the neighborhood of
Medina. His black, wiry hair, hung far down over his back
and shoulders ; he had on a white cloak, on which was sewed
two winged horses of red stuff; he placed himself in the cen-
tre of the semicircle. All stood as if their feet were nailed
fast, but as if a steam-engine set the other limbs in motion :
every joint moved in the same direction, first forward, then
backward ; now to the right, then to the left ; and all during
a song or recitation whatever we may choose to call it
first slowly and then in quicker and quicker time the song
as well as the motion ; so that by degrees the dancers fell into
wild, nay, almost obscene postures.

Two young Turks sat cross-legged outside the semicircle and
led the song, which rose continually with a monotonous into-
nation on the third syllable. They ran through the whole of
Mohammed's race, from Abdallah to Mohammed, and the cho-
rus was : " La illah ! illalah ! " At .ast it sounded like a dull


howl, a snoring, or death rattle. Some were pale as death ;
others were deep red ; the water streamed down from all their
faces. The hermit now threw off his cloak, and stood in a red
woolen blouse with sleeves extending over his hands, and with
naked legs ; he was soon in a state of madness, and tore his
tight blouse, striking his breast with his naked arms. One of
his hands was withered, probably his own doing ; his mouth
was one bleeding wound ; both his lips had lately been cut off,
so that the white teeth grinned ; it was horrible to look at !
His mouth began to bleed, his eyes rolled, and the veins in
his forehead swelled. The dance became more and more
violent, and yet not one moved an inch from his place. They
seemed not to be men, but machines. They no longer spoke
words: words were lost in a short howl. "Jehovah"
sounded like"Je hu!" in the rest of the song, "Ja med!"
"O help!" most distinctly. It was like a death groan it
was frightful ; and the more I looked at the dancers, the
more I felt that I was in a mad-house amongst the insane.

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 21 of 31)