Résumé de M. BOQVIST

Urban, rural or Ottoman provincial bathhouses? A study of hammams in some 16th century Ottoman Külliyes in the province of Damascus

Marianne BOQVIST
Research Fellow at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul – SUÈDE

Type de contribution : communication longue

Buildings can often be interpreted as indicators of a shift in political, religious and economic power. This is also valid for the city and province of Damascus in the 16th century, where there was an apparent strong desire of the new Ottoman rulers to make their mark through architectural patronage. Many of the new constructions can be connected to the Ottoman preoccupation with their political and religious legitimisation as the new protectors of the three holy cities, as well as to the increased commercial activity taking place on the imperial roads leading to these cities. Consequently, the Ottoman sultans and their officials founded several complexes enclosing religious and utilitarian buildings in strategic rural locations on these routes. These complexes, or külliyes, functioned as an architectural trademark for the Ottoman dynasty, and were as such not only intended to protect the pilgrims, tradesmen and travellers, but also, to show the omnipresence of the Ottomans in the region.
The aim of this paper is to discuss some architectural aspects of the hammams included in a few of these Ottoman complexes located on the road between Damascus and Cairo; the foundations of Lâlâ Mustafâ Pasha and Fâtima Hatûn in Qunaytra and Jenin and the ones of Sinân Pasha in Qutayfa, Sa‘sa and Uyyûn al-Tujjâr.

Written sources and material remains
Even though there may be possibilities to find complementary source material on these bath houses later on, this project is still at an early stage. My contribution will thus primarily focus on the information gathered so far in the endowment deeds and from the observation of architectural remains.
The two endowment deeds both exist in several edited and unedited versions1. These documents record the buildings included in the endowment, however, while the endowment deed of Lâlâ Mustafâ Paşa and Fâtima Hatûns contains detailed architectural descriptions of the baths, the one of Sinân Paşa only states the function and location of the buildings. However, since some of the baths included in his endowment are still in place today, which is not the case for any of those founded by Lâlâ Mustafâ Paşa; this foundation has an important role to play for our understanding of the buildings.
In the future it would be interesting to include additional information from the local court records or from documents kept at the Başbakanlık and Topkapı archives in Istanbul. As governmental foundations, information concerning the building sites of Sinân Paşa in Sa’sa and Uyyûn al-Tujjâr is included in the archives of state affairs (mühimme defter) and indicates that there could be more to be found2. These documents do not mention any details on the bath houses, but they provide general information on the building project, the responsibilities of the Pasha, the team of workmen and the global costs included3.
Local, Ottoman and European travel accounts also sometime give information on the külliyes or the building site as for instance S. Schweigger who passed ruined buildings in Sa’sa in 1581, J. Thévenot, who describes Sinân Paşa complex in Qumayfa in the 16th century4 or Biddulf who describes Qunaymra as a prosperous provincial meeting ground when he passed through in the early years of the 17th century. Earlier and later travel accounts may also provide important additional information on the use and reuse of places and buildings.

Themes: My contribution will discuss two different aspects of these bathhouses.

The Layout of baths and its affiliations
Were these baths all conceived with a similar layout or are they all different from one another and why? Which architectural tradition are they affiliated with?
Here, the development of damascene baths provides an interesting comparison. In Damascus, the layout of the new Ottoman hammams, as for instance the ones that were part of Lâlâ Mustafâ and Sinân Paşa foundations (Hammâm al-Sinânîya Hammâm al-Ra‘s/al-Sârûja), both represent a development towards a simplified layout formed by two domed spaces of equal size; a cold/changing room and a hot room. However, no damascene bath completely adopted this layout in the 16th century; the local tradition was probably too strong. Hence, the question here will be whether the külliye-baths on the imperial road were affiliated with the contemporary Damascene architecture or rather with the model of Ottoman provincial architecture? In line with this query it is interesting to compare the Syrian hammams with the ones in complexes ordered by the same founder in other locations, such as Lâlâ Mustafâ Paşa külliyes in Cyprus, Livno, Erzurum and Ilgin or Sinân Paşa külliyes in Cairo and Akko.

This discussion aims to further evaluate the influence of the architectural patron and/or the workmen on the final conception of a building. This leads to the question of where the workmen on the building site came from. There is some written evidence that damascene workmen were sent to work on some of these sites, however we do not know whether the workmen included in these teams originated from Damascus or not5. The provincial capital could possibly have been a catchment area for workmen in the province. An additional question is if these workmen were free men or slaves (or both?).

A final question is whether these baths should be classified as urban, rural or as Ottoman provincial? This analysis needs to be made in relation with the rural baths built in the same period that will be examined in the contribution of A. Meier.

And who were the intended, and the actual users of these baths? The baths, as the külliyes, were intended to be used by travellers and pilgrims, but were these baths only available for the travellers and not at all open for the use of peasant or villagers living in the neighbourhood ? An additional question is whether the bath was open to all travellers, or only to Muslims – and if there was a centralised policy concerning these matters.

Notes :

  1. Waqf Lâlâ Mustafâ Pasha and Fâtima Hatûn, Vakiflar Genel Müdürlügü 747-216, and Firmân li-wâlî Saidâ wa Shâm bi Husûs waqf Lâlâ Mustafâ bâshâ wa zawjjatuhu Fâtima Hatûn bint sultân al-Gûr, éd. Mardam Bek, Damas 1385 h./1956. Waqf Sinan Pasha, Vakiflar Genel Müdürlügü, 583-188, The waqf of Sinan Pasha has also been edited by ARNA’UT (M.) 1993, Mu‘îyat ‘an Dimashq wa Bilâd el-Shâm al-Ganûbîya fî nihayat al-Sâdisa ‘ashara, Damas 1993. The study of J.-P. Pascual on 16th century Damascus also includes parts of the same waqfîya, PASCUAL (J.-P.) 1983, Damas à la fin du XVIe siècle d’après trois actes de waqf ottomans, Damas, 1983.
  2. HEYD (U.) 1960, Ottoman documents on Palestine 1552 – 1615, A Study of the Firmn according to the Muhimme Defteri, Oxford 1960.
  3. HEYD (U.) 1960, p. 112, p. 114, p 380.
  4. A list of travellers going through the region in the 16th century has been published by YERASIMOS (S.) 1991, Les Voyageurs dans l’Empire Ottoman (XIVe-XVIe s), bibliographie, itinéraires et inventaire des lieux habités, Ankara 1991.
  5. HEYD (U.) 1960, p. 380 states that 13 builders carpenters, stone cutters and day labourers where sent from Damascus and its vicinity to work on the fortress in Uyyûkn al-Tujjâr.


L'identifiant "Balnéorient" regroupe deux des membres du projet éponyme, Th. Fournet (Ifpo) et B. Redon (HiSoMA), en charge de la mise en ligne des billets. Ces derniers sont cependant souvent le fait d'autres participants au programme. Ils sont dans ce cas signalés comme auteur.

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