Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1792 Turkish ayan
Subjectayan 'notable' provincial warlord
Culture: Ottoman Turk
Setting: late Ottoman empire 18-19thc


* Streusand 2011 p127
"In 1699, the Ottomans began allowing tax farmers to purchase iltizams for life and pass them on to their children. 
"The new tax system started with two existing levies, the avariz-i-divaniye (avariz-i divaniye) and the tekalif (tekâlif). [...]
    "... In the later seventeenth century, the ayan became the primary conduit for the collection of tekalif.  The regime extracted forced loans from them as well, requiring them to collect the repayment from the general population, a form of forced tax farming.  The role of the ayan in the new revenue system became the springboard to ayan dominance in the provinces in the eighteenth century."

* Streusand 2011 p128-129
"The new provincial administration ... meant the transfer of the provincial revenue that had supported the old provincial elite to the central elite.  It thus completed the dominance of the qapiqullar, even as it provided the cash revenue the empire needed to fund the new infantry armies and respond to monetary stresses.  In the course of the seventeenth century, however, this system also helped to empower a new provincial elite, which became known as the ayan.  The eighteenth century became the era of the ayan.
    "[...] Later in the eighteenth century, what amounted to a series of local ayan dynasties ruled much of the empire through what amounted to local ayan councils."

* Masselos 2010 p128 (Gabor Ágoston, "Asia Minor and beyond: The Ottomans 1281-1922" p104-135)
"Ottoman military failures in the 18th century often led to unrest and rebellions, resulting in the dethronement of two sultans (Mustafa II in 1703 and Ahmed III in 1730).  The latter part of the century witnessed the emergence of the ayan: warlord-bandits, local notables, and governors.  They strengthened their position during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1787-92, when they seized a host of vital administrative functions in the provinces, from troop recruitment to provisioning.  The most powerful of the ayan carved out large autonomous polities, established their own armies, and waged wars against each other, bringing much suffering upon the subject population.  Between 1792 and 1812, notables such as Osman Pazvanoglu in Bulgaria, Tepedenli Ali Pasha in southern Albania and Epirus, the Garaosmanoğlus in western Anatolia, the Tekelioğlus in Antalya, and the Kozanoğlus in Cilicia, in effect partitioned much of the Ottoman Balkans and Anatolia.  Yet, threatened by Russia's ambitions in the Balkans, few of them sought independence.  They realized that none of them was strong enough to withstand the Russians, and that they had access to the empire's resources only if they negotiated to legitimize their status with Istanbul."

* Sugar 1977 p238
"[Very strong new lords] slowly built up huge estates until they virtually owned little provinces.  Others ruthlessly used either their official position or their leadership in a janissary group to force the local lords to turn over their possessions.  The former tried to acquire official positions to 'legitimize' their 'lordships,' while the latter added possessions to existing titles.  These men were known as âyans, and while the word still meant notable, it was applied very differently than it had been in the earlier centuries and was used to describe local rulers.  Some of the âyans established petty dynasties. ...  In most cases the âyan owed his eminence to his own talent and savage determination, and to the support of a group of people who were tied to and often loyal only to him.  At the death of these âyans loyalties ceased and the struggle for succession developed, of which even the weakened state could take advantage."

* Streusand 2011 p129-130
"The Ottoman Empire in the ayan era differed dramatically from the classical empire of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.  But the ayan system offered both the regime and the general population a number of benefits.  Because of their lasting local connections, the ayan had incentives to protect the interests of the general population and to invest in the economic development of the area, rather than to exploit their positions for short-term gains.  But they also offered the central government an effective way of drawing on the resources of the provinces, not only in routine taxation but in support of military campaigns; for example, ayan families often acted as contractors to provision armies on campaign."

* Sugar 1977 p240
"There were âyans or other lords, both Muslim and Christian, in practically all parts of the Balkan Peninsula.  Not only did they  train certain segments of the population in the use of arms, but they also served as models for others, including some clergymen and knezes, of how much a strong man could get from the established authorities.  Thus, in more ways than one they prepared the soil from which the uprisings and independence movements of the nineteenth century grew.  They were a disruptive element and posed a serious problem for the central authorities, but one may ask how the Ottoman Empire's European provinces would have fared without them.  If nothing else, the âyans and other lords performed a police function of some value."

* Lapidus 1988 p337-339


* North 1985 p12
"A number of Turkish blunderbusses are to be found, probably introduced from the Continent at some time in the 18th century.  These have the standard bell-shaped muzzle and short stock of European forms.  The stocks are inlaid with scrolling wire and resemble the short Spanish blunderbusses of the early 18th century which were almost certainly their ancestors.  Although the butts are shaped to fit, their small proportions make them about impossible to shoot from the shoulder, and it has been suggested that they were used from the hip when on horseback."

* Wilkinson 1974 p51
"[T]he small Turkish bunderbuss ... is literally a miniature blunderbuss, and although it has the typical shaped shoulder butt it is, in fact, intended to be held in the hand and used as a pistol."

* Tirri 2003 :-( p127
"In addition to the standard Kubur pistol, the Ottomans had a short 'rifle'-style pistol, which is often characterized as a 'Knee-gun.'  [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: Why would a blunderbuss, which doesn't shoot bullets, ever be rifled?]  This term is used because the method of fire, from horseback, was to rest the butt of the gun against the knee when fired. ...  The barrels were straight, flared, or duck-billed."


* Stone 1934 p334
"KAMCHA.  A whip, Turkish.  It has a short, stiff handle with a long lash fastened to one side at the end." 

​* Diagram Group 2007 p73 caption
​"Turkish whip of hide, with a silver-gilt handle.  Although not effective for military use, such objects have often been used as impromptu weapons."