BURSA EDICT OF STANDARDS
The document named the Bursa Edict of Standards, issued by Emperor Bayezıd II
in 1502, is the world’s first standard in the modern sense. This 500-year- old
document, of which the original is in the Revan Library of Topkapı Museum,
covered standard rules in accordance with the local characteristics and product
ranges of such provinces and areas as Amasya, Aydın, Arapkir, Çankırı,
Diyarbakır, Edirne, Erzurum, İçel, Karahisar, Karaman, Mardin, Musul, Rize and
Sivas in addition to Bursa. Containing sound standards in a vast field from food
to textiles and from market vendors’ aprons to weights of gold jewellery sold by
goldsmiths, the Bursa Edict of Standards is a valuable historical document
evidencing the importance attributed by Turks to the production and
standardisation of products.
Here is how the scroll reads:
Orders received from the Emperor requires that all businessmen and merchants
in Bursa should be thoroughly inquired on how and when the prices of clothes,
wearing apparels and foodstuffs and their varieties are determined, that all
gathered information with as much detail as possible should be entered on a
ledger, that evidence should be collected regarding the basis on which the
prices used to be determined when the Emperor acceded to the throne, that data
should be obtained on the subsequent changes in the prices together with the
reasons thereof, that no ambiguities should be left in the knowledge so obtained
and that they should be properly scribed on a ledger, which should be absolutely
complete since it will be used as a law to be abided by all citizens.
In obedience to the imperial orders, businessmen, merchants and assessors
from each field were gathered in turns and asked how the prices were determined,
whether there were any changes since then and what were the reasons of the
changes and when they were introduced. They all replied that the old rules of
business were no longer being obeyed and that all prices had been completely
tampered with and raised up in the last five or six years in such a manner that
the previously determined prices were no longer valid.
First inspections and inquiries were made among the bakers. They said that
the prices of bread were previously being determined by reliable assessors
appointed by judges. The expert witnesses acted in strict impartiality and set
the prices depending on the price and quality of the wheat. The decision of the
assessors was such that one Bursa mud of medium quality wheat costed 100 akças,
the best one commanding a price of 110 and the somewhat lower quality sold for
85. Thus one 700 dirham loaf of bread would be sold for one akça and this price
would be redetermined whenever there was a change in the wheat price. It was
required that the flour should be sieved through a fine mesh, that the bread
should be baked well, have a white colour and be devoid of improper odours.
Samples of bread were then brought from several bakeries to find out whether
these conditions were being obeyed. It was noted that most of the loaves were
underbaked, blackish in colour and underweight. Asked about the underlying
reasons for this situation, bakers replied that municipal controllers were
tolerating this by receiving five to ten akças a day from each bakery. The
matter had become so commonplace that the municipality had to issue an order to
the controllers to quit the practice of receiving bribes. But this did not
improve the situation and they continued receiving their palm greases and
tolerating the sale of low-quality bread to the people. They receive this money
under the pretext of as fine; but they pocket it in reality and look the other
way when the underweighted low quality bread is sold. Therefore was asked the
city’s mayor whether he knew about it. He said that he was appointed to this
past only a few days ago and that his secretary and usherer were in the
municipality for many years and in a position to give a satisfactory reply. When
these two officials were approached and asked why they tolerated this practice,
they confessed their guilt and promised that they would never do it again. They
were ordered to pull themselves together and stop this mispractice. But they
became even worse within a very short time. Despite many subsequent warnings,
they continued violating the law and religion’s orders.
Then were gathered all bakers and assessors together and questions were
addressed to them regarding the previous prices, they replied that the bread was
for as long as they could remember around hundred and fifty dirhams less than
the necessary weight, but the flour was made from quality wheat and passed
through a fine-mesh sieve, a sufficient amount of poppy seeds was sprinkled on
the loaves that were baked crisp. They also said that one oke of fat to be added
to one kile of flour, but it was nowadays reduced to half an oke. The loaves
presently baked were of different and often lower qualities. The inquiries
showed that the reason of this worsening was the habit of giving and receiving
bribes and the resulting lack of control.
Standard for the buns:
The buns should be one-half the weight of a bread loaf and one oke of fat
should be added to one kile of flour. The inspection revealed a low quality due
to bribing again. Bakers were told to revert to the original standards.
The onions which were sold at one akça for four and a half oke are now on
sale at four oke at the same price. Onions with stems weighed five okes, which
were reduced by half an oke in the autumn. Green grocers were making two-oke
bundles from the two and a half oke winter deliveries. This practice also was
against the law because of the akças inobtrusively slid into the pockets of
controllers. Merchants were told in no uncertain terms to return to the previous
When the butchers, assessors and city fathers were brought together and
asked, most of the true believers said that the price of mutton had three
different levels at three different annual periods: The unit was two hundred and
fifty, three hundred and two hundred dirhams in each of the four-month slices of
the year. They added that three hundred dirham was wholly forgotten for the past
four or five years. Replying the question of why three hundred dirhams were not
being used any longer; butchers showed several reasons: Primo, there was a
freightage tax of one akça per sheep at Gallipoli pier in the past, which is now
raised to four akças. Secundo, the imperial almshouses and some dignitaries
collect from us sixty thousand sheep on foot per annum and the latter has been
an official levy today. Tertio, they had received a court decision to the effect
that the unit will be three hundred dirhams in Bursa when it is three hundred
and fifty in Istanbul and always fifty dirhams less than it will be in Istanbul.
Yet said the believers that the pier tax was raised some fifteen years ago while
the abandonment of three hundred dirham unit took place only four or five years
ago and gift of sixty thousand sheep to almshouses is no longer valid although
the state levy continues and this did not cause any lessening of live sheep
deliveries to the city. Now, varying numbers of sheep is sent to Bursa and price
is determined by the quantity of available animals. Sometimes, more sheep comes
here than to Istanbul and butchers did not raise the unit weight to three
hundred dirhams when it was three hundred and fifty in Istanbul. The butchers
were accused by the inquirers that they had entered into a clandestine agreement
with the mayor, to whom they had paid large amounts of money at the beginning of
the season and sold the mutton at the unit weight of two hundred and fifty when
it should have been three hundred and thereby disregarded and denied the tenet
of intermoslem solidarity. It was ascertained that the real culprit in this was
the mayor. The city fathers intervened at this point and laid bare another
bitter fact that continued for the past four or five years. The goat flesh
always sold at a unit weight fifty dirhams more than the mutton; but the mayor
collected two akças for each goat slaughtered and permitted it to be sold at the
mutton price. Around one hundred city fathers as true believers swore before the
mayor and his aides that they had actually witnessed the money changing hands
between the mayor and butchers. The latter did not deny it and said that they
had no compuction to sell the goat flesh at the same price as mutton. Many
butchers clearly confessed this in front of the people in the meeting.
Asked to give information on the old rules regarding the fruit prices,
vendors and assessors together with the city fathers stated that the fruits
arriving to the city were bought an sold freely between the producers and
vendors depending on the amount of deliveries until about four or five years
ago. It was revealed in the meeting that the vendors had begun to go to the
fields of producers, buy the crop on the trees, bring them to their secluded
storage places, from which they release them in piecemeal fashion to keep the
prices high and shared the difference with the mayor. In order to control the
truth of these claims, ledgers were checked and some fruits were brought from
the nearest marketplace for examination. When the claims of coty fathers turned
out to be correct, the vendors were asked why they sold the fruits at weights
under the standards. They replied in the presence of the mayor that they were
doing this with his approval. The mayor first denied it when he was accused of
tolerating this mispractice, but admitted in a round about manner by saying that
he had found the things like that when he came to the office and tried to have
himself excused by saying that this was the only way for collecting the sum that
he was expected to send annually to the imperial treasury and to meet the costs
of running the city. His secretary and aides confessed the sales at underweight.
Some of the vendors also declared that the municipal controllers were actually
collecting one or two akças from each shop that they inspected and received a
basketful of fruits to take home everyday in clear violation of laws and edicts.
All this was found to be unpleasant and painful. Prices of all fruits were
checked one by one and the old rules were found to be in complete disregard. It
was agreed in the meeting that new prices should be determined in consultation
with vendors, assessors and buyers and strictly enforced afterward.
Following decisions were adopted for fruits:
Sweet cherries will be sold for one akça per hundred and fifty dirhams first,
per two hundred dirhams three days later and the price will be one akça per oke
with fifty dirham increments every three days.
Fresh apricots will command a price of one akça for two hundred dirhams first
and the price will be set thereafter as per the quantities received.
Fresh plums will have a price of one akça per two hundred dirhams, one akça
per five hundred dirhams and the pricing system will continue by increments
until is reached the level of one akça per six hundred during the season.
Such will be the price of Gökbaşlı pears.
The İgnesi pears will be one akça per six hundred dirhams first, one akça per
two oke five days there after and the price will subsequently be arranged
according to the amounts incoming.
The Veçhi ballû pears will be sold for one akça per two oke and one thousand
dirham for one akça three days after and the 3- day intervals system will apply
until three oke start selling for one akça.
The Örenkuş pears will be for one akça per two hundred dirhams first, three
hundred dirhams three days later, one oke four days later and price will
continue to abate until six hundred dirhams start selling for one akça.
The Zerdamori pears will start at one oke first and six hundred dirhams for
one akça five days later and subsequent prices will be handled as per this
The Mürendî pears will be sold at one akça per three hundred dirhams first,
five hundred dirhams five days later and price will be determined in accordance
with this schedule.
The Bey pears will be sold at one akça for two hundred and fifty dirhams when
a donkey load sells for eighty-six akças and the price will thereafter be
escalated at this ratio.
The Sultanî pears will sell at five hundred dirhams first, six hundred
dirhams five days later and to okes for one akça finally.
The Şekerî pears will be three hundred dirhams first and six hundred dirhams
for one akça thereafter.
The Türkî pears will be thousand dirhams first for one akça and the price
will be set thereafter according to the amount of deliveries thereafter.
The Sabunî pears will be sold at one akça for three hundred dirhams first,
six hundred dirhams for one akça five days thereafter and to okes for one akça
two weeks thereafter.
The Kara Moru pears will sell at one oke first, five hundred dirhams three
days thereafter and eight hundred dirhams for one akça finally.
The Bozdoğan pears will sell at one akça per oke first, six hundred dirhams
three days later, eight hundred dirhams and four okes for one akça with the same
The Bedegânî apples of Akşehir will be sold at one akça per three hundred and
fifty dirhams when one camel load sells for hundred akças, and the price will be
set subsequently in accordance with this ratio. The sour apples of the same
origin will be sold at one akça per oke. The tradition dictates that. Yet the
price will depend on the deliveries.
Apples from Şehrebani village will sell at one akça per three hundred dirhams
when a mule load is purchased at seventy akças, three hundred and fifty dirhams
for one akça when the same load is available for sixty akças and this ratio will
apply for subsequent deliveries.
The Küllabî apples will sell fourteen hundred dirhams first and one oke three
days later and six hundred dirhams for one akça finally.
The Misk apples will be two hundred dirhams for one akça when one load is
delivered for hundred akças, two hundred and twenty-five dirhams at the same
price when the load dictates hundred and ten akças, and two hundred dirhams for
one akça for two okes.
The Yalı pomegranates will sell at six hundred dirhams for one akça when one
load is bought for twenty akças, five hundred dirhams for one akça in
twenty-five akça loads, and one oke for one akça when the load rises to thirty
akças. The Bey species will be one akça per oke and the price will be escalated
thereafter according to the supply.
Price of the Birgi pomegranades will be one akça for two hundred and eighty
dirhams when a load is bought for hundred and forty akças, subject to alteration
in accordance with this ratio.
The spotted Aydın grapes will sell for one akça per two hundred dirhams for
the first two days, and three hundred dirhams at the same price thereafter. It
will be reduced to one akça per oke when the local grapes reach the market and
the price will be escalated thereafter according to the supply.
Three hundred dirhams of the Ulubat grapes will be one akça first and three
okes for one akça thereafter and revert again to the initial pricing at the
final deliveries of Medrebelid grapes when one load is sold at seventy akças.
The Ulubat will then sell for one akça per oke.
The local Medrebelid grapes will sell one akça per two hundred dirhams first,
three hundred dirhams three days later and five hundred and six hundred dirhams
for the same price one week later. When the supply is abundant, the price may be
reduced even to two okes per akça. The local vendors have readily agreed to
comply when they were instructed that the sales will be consummated at two
hundred dirhams more for each akça’s worth of supply ten days later when grapes
other than Medrebelid appear on the market.
The fresh figs will sell at one akça per two hundred dirhams first, per one
oke three days later per two oke a further three days later. It will be one akça
per two okes thereafter until the end of the season.
The Cornelians will sell at one akça per two hundred dirhams first and one
akça per two oke afterward.
The Güzelhisar oranges will dictate a price of one akça per two hundred and
The Midilli oranges will be one akça per oke.
The lemons will be priced at on akça per two hundred and eighty dirhams at
hundred and eighty akças per load.
Prime chestnuts will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams for one akça when
the delivery is fourteen akças per load. Other chestnuts will be priced at an
akça an oke when one kile is delivered at eight akças.
The olive prices:
Karaburun and Çekişte olives will be one akça per two hundred dirhams and
Yalı olives will be one akça per oke.
Fresh hazelnuts with green cotyledons on will sell at one akça per oke and
one akça per two hundred dirhams when they are sold unshelled. The price will be
one akça per one hundred and twenty five dirhams for one akça when the season is
Walnuts will sell at four and a half akças per kile when one mud is bought at
Unripe medlars will sell at five akças per kile, four and a half akças four
days later and four akças a further four day later. The ripe ones will go at one
akça per three hundred dirhams first, one akça per oke three days later, six
hundred dirhams for one akça a further three days later and finally at one akça
per two okes.
Cuss lettuce will first be sold at one akça per eight, sixteen for one akça
three days later and finally twenty four for one akça.
When asked about the old laws and regulations on the horticulture products,
the city fathers and assessors replied that the city inhabitants used to buy
their hearts’ content the fruits such as melons and water melons when they
reached the market. But the street vendors have created their own orchards and
made an alliance among themselves to buy these fruits right in the field and
store them at their inobtrusive storage places, sell them only in a few shops
and the profits are shared by overlords and their accomplices. Since they are in
absolute unison in this field, the pious moslems suffer from this. It was
decided that the old rules should be revived and an imperial edict will be quite
effective to ensure this. The moslems will then be forever grateful to the
Emperor and the State, to which their prayers will perennially be addressed.
First come the cucumbers among these fruits.
The cucumbers used to be sold at four for one akça first, eight for one a
week later, sixteen for one in the second, twenty four for one in the third and
thirty two for one in the fourth week. They were marketed fresh as they arrived.
Yet the merchants sell them for one, two, four or five for one akça at a time
when twenty or thirty should be sold at that price. The price never falls even
when they are no longer fit for human consumption.
Moslems never seen fresh cucumbers because the municipal inspectors tolerate
this practice in consideration of akças that they receive from the merchants,
who even dump off the excess deliveries to the city garbage ditches in order to
keep the prices up and sell stale cucumbers on which they sprinkle murky water
as if they are valuable medicaments. They cheat the moslems at exorbitant prices
as in the case of other fruits. Therefore, they were ordered in no uncertain
terms to return to the old laws.
The Engürü (Ankara) melons will be sold at one akça per two oke first, per
five okes six days later and per eight another six days later.
The Karaca melons will sell at one akça for three okes first, for six okes a
week later and for ten okes finally.
The water melons will sell at one akça for four okes first, for six okes two
days later and for eight okes one week thereafter.
The unripe melons will sell for one akça for three okes first, for four okes
three days later, for five okes one week thereafter and for sever okes ten days
later. The melons and water melons will never be put on the market when they are
not mature yet; those that do it will be summarily handled by the judge
according to the old law.
The inquiries revealed that there was no trace in the market of the old laws
and practices. When asked about the reasons for this disobedience, the city
fathers replied that the municipal inspectors were receiving bribes under the
pretext that the vendors were found to be selling these products at higher than
established prices. An examination of the ledgers confirmed what the people had
declared and entries were made on the books to the effect that this mispractice
had started some four or five years ago.
As for the vegetables, findings are the following;
Okras will sell for one akça per two okes first and two and a half okes five
There will be no price limitations in the first three days on pumpkins, which
will then sell at one akça for three okes from third day on, for four okes
during the next week, for five okes in the following week, for six okes in the
next week for eight okes in the last week. When the pumpkins begin to sell at
one akça for eight okes, the unripe grapes will be available at one akça for one
thousand dirhams. The green grocers will sell pumpkins to those who want
pumpkins only and sour grapes wishing to buy sour grapes and never try to sell
Price of eggplants will be one akça for ten at the start of the season, for
twenty-four one week later, forty in the second week, sixty in the third and
eighty in the fourth week.
Carrots will sell at one akça for four okes.
Cabbage price will be one akça for four okes to begin with, one akça for six
okes ten days later and one akça for eight okes after twenty days.
It was found that the old laws were in oblivion also in respect of the
vegetables for reasons that swere mentioned before. The green grocers convened
together and declared that they were ready to apply the old rules. They added,
however, that they used to sell the pumpkins, unripe grapes, carrots and the
likes themselves; but the marketplace vendors had entered into this area and
that, for this reason, they were compelled to buy these items at a higher price
and perforce sell at a price higher than shown in the rules. Therefore, it was
resolved that they should henceforth be sold only by the green grocers.
Now for the sweets:
Halva makers and their assessors got together and gave the following
Mixed halva with almonds sells for seven and other halvas for six akças per
oke. The shopkeepers sell the ordinary halva for four and a half akças per oke
while the street vendors sell it at four akças and charge three and a half akças
for grape halva. Those that bring the stuff from neighbouring townships go as
far down as three akças per kilo. The inspections confirmed these statements and
found deviations from the old rules for the same reasons. The old rules were
reinstated with the hope that they will be duly implemented.
Assessors of blancmange makers said that the price of this product became one
akça for two hundred and twenty-five dirhams when they bought the grapes at
fifteen akças per batman, used four akças’ worth of saffron, one oke of almonds,
six akças’ worth of starch, three okes of firewood, miscellaneous materials for
two akças, puppy seed oil for nine akças, paid a shop rental of one akça and
used labour for four akças. Yet the market inquiry revealed higher sales prices,
all for the reasons cited before. The previous rules were ordered to be
When grapes sell at one akça per three hundred and fifty dirhams, price of
grape sherbet becomes five hundred and fifty dirhams for one akça; and grapes at
one akça for one oke dictates a sherbet price of one akça Per seven hundred
dirham. The market prices were found to be significantly different and orders
were issued for the implementation of old rules.
Here is how the matter is for the grocers:
When the grocers and their assessors and city fathers were brought together
to the Council and asked about how the prices were determined for the
commodities sold by and bought from the wholesalers, an agent of the mayor and a
number of respected city fathers inspected the items and set prices at the scale
of ten/eleven, that is, a good bought for ten should be sold for eleven, and
immediately did away with the culprit. It was found that this rule was no longer
obeyed and that every grocer bought and sold at whatever price that pleased him.
This was due to the slackening of inspection and the resulting bribes.
Therefore, the old ten/eleven rule was installed again depending on seasons and
prices were determined as follows for the commodities listed below:
Strained honey will sell at five and half akças an oke if delivered at ninety
akças per batman, at five akças for deliveries at eight akças per batman and at
four and a half akças for deliveries at seventy akças per batman.
Cooking fat will sell at eight akças an oke for deliveries at hundred and
thirty akças per batman, at seven akças an oke for deliveries at hundred and
twenty akças a batman and at six and a half akças an oke for deliveries at
hundred akças a batman.
Poppy seed fat will sell at four akças an oke if delivered at sixty akças a
batman, at four and a half akças an oke if delivered at seventy akças a batman
and at three and a half akças an oke if delivered at fifty akças a batman.
Emir Ali apricots will sell at four akças an oke if delivered at seventy
akças a batman.
Garbî apricots will sell at three and a half akças an oke if delivered at
fifty akças a batman.
Raisins will sell at one akça per four hundred and fifty dirhams an oke if
delivered at fourteen akças a batman.
Grapes from Beylerce will sell at one akça per four hundred dirhams if one
batman is purchased for fifteen akças.
Reşidiye raisins will sell at one akça per for hundred dirhams if delivered
at fifteen akças per batman.
Better quality dried figs will sell at one akça per three hundred dirhams.
Amasya plums will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if received
at twenty five akças per batman.
Prunes will sell at one akça per three hundred dirhams if one batman is
purchased for twenty akças.
Aydın apricots will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams per akça if
received at five akças per batman.
Akşehir pears will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if one load
is received at fourteen akças.
Pears from Aydın will sell at one akça per four hundred and fifty dirhams if
one batman is purchased for fourteen akças.
Karaman apricots will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if
delivered at thirty akças per batman.
Apricot paste will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if delivered
at twenty eight akças per batman.
Grape paste will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if delivered
at twenty five akças per batman.
Almonds will sell at four akças an oke if delivered at sixty akças per
Marascinos will sell at one akça for hundred dirhams if delivered at sixty
akças per batman.
Shelled walnuts will sell at three akças an oke if delivered at forty three
akças per batman.
Grape treacle will sell at two hundred dirhams an akça first and two hundred
and fifty dirhams an akça subsequently.
Starch will always sell at one oke an akça.
Those bringing roasted chick peas from other cities will sell it at an oke
and fifty dirhams an akça and shopkeepers will sell them at one oke an akça.
Sofia and Karaman cheese will sell at hundred and fifty dirhams an akça if
one kantar is delivered at ninety akças.
Eşme cheeses will sell at two hundred and fifty dirhams an akça.
Midilli cheese will sell at two akças an oke.
Cheese curds will sell at two akças an oke, starting with an akça for three
hundred dirhams and the price will be adjusted subsequently according to the
amount of deliveres.
Now for the flesh and eggs:
Chicken sellers and city fathers having been summoned to the Council said
with respect to the old law that one hundred dirhams of chicken meat sold for
one akça in Bursa when it was one hundred dirhams for one akça in Istanbul and
there was a difference of ten dirhams. When the ledgers were examined, however,
the price was found to be eighty dirhams for one akça. The vendors had agreed to
this first, but declared later that they coluldn’t sell at that price. When
asked why, since they had agreed at the start, they said that some of them
bought the chicken, some others butchered and plucked the animals and they paid
seven akças every other day to the municipal officials for selling at any price
that they fancied.
The chicken sellers names Ömer bin Mehmet, Hasan bin Hüseyin and Çakır bin
Abdullah having declared under oath that they were paying this bribe for the
past four or five years, the reasons behind this disorderly conduct were
understood and the new price was set at seventy dirhams for one akça and the
mutton price which was two hundred dirhams for one akça was raised to two
hundred dirhams for the same price. When the supply increases and the price is
reduced to two hundred and fifty dirhams for one akça, the chicken meat will be
set at eighty dirhams for the same price. If the mutton price basis rises to
three hundred dirhams, the chicken meat will sell for ninety dirhams for one
The egg prices set at ten eggs per for one akça in winter, fourteen in
springtime and sixteen in August were found to have been altered still for the
same reason. The sellers were ordered to revert to the old rules.
Regarding the fish sellers who were summoned together with their assessors
and city fathers, it was learned that a tax of two akças were being paid per
load before, that carp commanded a price of one akça per oke, catfish sold for
one akça per five hundred dirhams, prices of marine fish were six hundred
dirhams for one akça and İznik trouts were being bought at one akça per oke.
This system had also been abandoned always for the same reasons and, what is
more, a 15-akça additional tax was imposed on fish over and above the previous
two akças. This additional tax was repealed and the merchants were told to use
the old rules. They accepted this first, but disregarded it in practice.
Then were examined the eateries.
Cooks, their assessors and city fathers replied in the Council meeting the
questions on the meals served by saying that they were selling one half of the
raw meat and a broth for one akça when they bought the mutton at one akça for
two hundred and fifty dirhams, thus they served the meal using one-fourth of the
raw meat. The fried meat dish prices were three and a half akças per oke and
meals of prime cuts, bought at four akças an oke, would be sold at one akça for
ninety dirhams less the onions to be served as side dish. Pot stew with bones
was for one akça per hundred and twenty five dirhams and kebab on skewer sold at
one akça per handred twelve and a half dirhams. All this were now disregarded
for reasons as said before. The old rules were reinstated, possibly under a
special edict to be obtained for added enforcement strength.
Asked about the old rules, assessors of fritter makers replied that at a time
when the mutton was sold at one akça per two hundred and fifty dirhams, a
fritter selling for one akça required seventy dirhams of meat, ten dirhams of
onions and hundred dirhams of dough, making up a total of one hundred and eight
dirhams. An oke of pure fat and pepper for one akça used to be added to the raw
materials. These rules are now disregarded for the reasons mentioned before. The
old rules were reinstated.
In the shop serving approximately six hundred heads of which one hundred was
available for forty akças together with the legs, expenditures were two hundred
and forty akças for heads, two hundred akças for daily shop rentals, price of
sixteen chords of wood, two hundred and forty akças as labour wages including
their meals, eighty akças for bread, sixteen akças for salt and vinegar and
thirty-three akças for garlic. The total daily costs were therefore nine hundred
and seven akças. Selling one head together with vinegar and four slices of bread
for one akça and four feet together with bread selling also for one akça, daily
revenues became twelve hundred akças, leaving a net profit of two hundred and
ninety akças. These prices were applied during the four months when the mutton
sold at one akça for two hundred dirhams and when they could buy one hundred
heads together with legs for sixteen akças. Therefore, it was decided that the
heads should be sold at one and a quarter akças together with bread and four
legs together with bread should be sold for one akça.
Assessors said the following in response to the questions on the old rules
established for the velvet, taffeta and brocade:
Old custom was to add five okes of root dye to weft threads of velvet and
three dirhams for each dirham of pile. For the last four or five years, they use
three okes for the weft and two and later one and a half dirhams for each dirham
The colour therefore began to worsen and acquired a bluish tinge, which they
called magenta. But this was not the original magenta, obtainable only if five
okes of dye is added to the weft, and three dirhams for each dirham of pile and
the cloth is immersed in the indigo bath. In the present practice where the root
dye is halved and indigo bath immersion is made, the colour becomes something
between red and violet. The velvet veavers said that they used the root dye in
accordance with the old rules, but the dyers goofed in the indigo bath. The
dyers replied against this accusation that they abide by the book and retorted
that the price of carmine was two akças an oke while the root dye sold for
ninety or hundred akças and that they mixed the carmine and root dye in order to
cut the prices down since the municipal inspectors tolerated this against the
bribe that they received.
The velvet weavers than declared that the price of root dye was twenty five
or thirty akças per oke and they used it freely at that price. But several
profiteers are now buying the root dyes coming to the city, store them and sell
at exorbitant prices. They were admonished several times against this practice,
but they did not heed to it. For the reasons of why the quality of the velvet
had deteriorated, they said that the warp and weft threads of it are processed
by thread twisters, that they mix the good quality threads with less desirable
ones and make all warps, wefts and pile from this mixture.
Expensive silk is of very high quality, cures easily and absorbs the dye
without difficulty. Since the inferior threads do not receive the dye well, the
colour suffers from it and velvet’s quality falls.
In the same vein, warp and weft twisters had all threads twisted before and
the colour was thus always uniform. Now the untwisted threads break off easily
and velvet’s strength is reduced. They were ordered in no uncertain terms to
resort to the old practice.
For the embroidered velvet, they said that forty five or fifty threads
weighed one dirham and the cloth was strong, shiny and durable. Today, the
threads began to become thinner to the point that sixty, seventy and finally one
hundred threads weigh one dirham. Likewise, we used to add one miskal French
thaler to each hundred dirhams of silver. Now they use half a miskal or at most
one dirham of lower quality gold. Therefore the embroidered velvet is not so
beautiful as it used to be before.
The reason was the same perennial mispractice of the bribes received by the
officials. It was ordered that the old rules should be rehashed and used.
When inquiries were made on monochrome brocades and taffeta, they replied
that they used to have seven thousand warps, but now this number was reduced to
six thousand and the width of the bolt was perforce reduced. They were ordered
to return to seven thousand warps as per the old rules.
For the royal brocade, they said that the rules were seven thousand warps and
one thousand and five hundred wefts, that is, a total of eight thousand and five
hundred threads, that one thousand threads were being eliminated from this
figure. Though there are still some weavers that abide by the old rule, the
majority sidesteps this. It is the moslems that suffer from it since the tax
paid on the length of bolt is always the same.
The situation was entered on the ledger exactly as reported, with the
indication that the municipal officials keep on bleeding the royal brocaders by
asking for and receiving bribes.
With regard to the faille, the weavers said that there used to be sixteen
hundred warp threads in the faille and its wefts were always twisted. Nowadays,
few are not the weavers who reduce this figure by two, three, four, six and even
eight hundred threads from the warp and use untwisted weft. The mayor was
therefore asked why he neglected to supervise this and he replied that he was
only recently appointed and did not know about this. Since the faille weavers
were accused, they retorted that they were paying bribes to the municipal
inspectors who tolerated this for the money that they received.
The mayor flared and said that they were lying. But the city fathers that
were present in the Council declared that more than one thousand looms were
producing this low-quality item with the tolerance they had against the palm
grease paid. The mayor then had to – confess that said that this was the only
way to collect the money to be sent to the imperial treasury and to run the
The moire also had sixteen hundred warps, its wefts were twisted and gold
threads were solid. It was found that its warps and therefore width were reduced
and carmine was being used instead of root dye for the same old reason. It was
decided that the old rules should be applied henceforth.
The brocatel used to have twenty-two hundred yarn threads for warp and its
width was one-quarter less than the other failles. It was left as found.
Double taffeta had eighteen hundred double thread warps, with a width of one
and a quarter girah, and glue was applied with the palm in order to flatten its
rugosities. For some time, number of warps are reduced by two, three and even
four hundred and salt was being added to the glue in order to hide the loss of
strength, always for the same reasons. It was ordered that the old rules should
be adopted again, with stringent controls.
Another type of taffeta, called pongee, with two thousand warps are now being
produced with two to three hundred less for always the same reason. Orders were
issued to implement the old rules.
The honan type of taffeta that to have sixteen hundred warps was found in a
derelict shape and orders were given to revert to the old rules with stringent
The royal satin used to have four thousand two hundred warps, with a width of
half an arşın and one girah. During the reign of Late Emperor Mehmet, six or
seven hundred threads were removed from it. A new rule was introduced for
thirty-five hundred warp threads, with the same width as before.
The royal red shantung used to be woven with twenty-two hundred warps and had
a scarlet colour of root dye. Warps were found to be sixteen hundred and the
colour off-shade in inspection and previous rules were reinstated.
The damask had thirty-six hundred warps, with a width of half an arşın and
one girah. The inspection revealed a shortage of six hundred to one thousand
threads for the same reasons and orders were issued to revert to the previous
The crepe, which should have eighteen warp threads, with slightly twisted
weft. The inspection revealed two hundred threads missing and none of the wefts
were twisted for always the same reason, and the old rules were ordered to be
The surrah weavers and their assessors in Council said that there were eight
hundred warps in the original good and the inspection discovered that there were
two hundred threads less for the same reason. The old rules were reintroduced.
Tailors and their assessors were summoned to the Council and the following
was determined from the replies given to the questions asked:
When the lengths of marketplace vendor garbs are one and a quarter arşıns,
they will be two arşıns and a quarter from the waist down. Their sleeves and
waists will likewise be an arşın and a quarter. Collars will be half an arşın
long, a quarter of an arşın wide. All buttons and lining will be of the same
When the garb length is an arşın and an eighth, the length from waist down
will be two arşıns and an eighth. The sleeve and collar will be one girah less
than an arşın and five girahs wide. Skirts of all garbs will be hemmed.
When the garb length is an arşın less a quarter, the length from the waist
down will be two arşıns less a quarter. The waist and armpit will be half an
arşın. The sleeve length will be a quarter less than an arşın and the sleeve
opening will have a width of three girahs.
When the garb is one arşın long, the length from the waist down will be two
arşıns, the waist line will be a quarter more than an arşın, the armpit will be
three quarters of an arşın less one girah. The sleeve opening will be three
Cloch sash garb will have a length of one arşın and a quarter, with a
waist-down length of two arşıns.
When the cloch prices were asked, the cloch weavers said that there were
something like forty or fifty different types and declared that is was necessary
to set prices for each type. The measurements of the garbs worn by the
marketplace vendors were definitely not in agreement with the old rules for the
reasons cited above. The vendors mentioned however that the raw Karaman and
Hamileli grays were seven and a half arşın long and the washed ones measured
seven arşıns. The grays received for the past four or five years are always less
than these lengths and the garbs are never of the required length when tailored.
The furriers and their assessors said in reply to the questions on furs that
forty sable, polecat and mink furs would make one pelt.
Eighteen lynx furs used to make one pelt and small pieces were left over.
Forty fox furs were reported to be enough for a pelt for a medium-sized
person. Whereupon the existing pelts were examined and the sable pelts were
found to have been made of twenty-eight furs. The furriers were warned to use
the correct number of furs from now on. But furriers objected to this and said
that all the furs that came to the city and bought by them alone before are now
purchased by anyone who fancies it and this creates a shortage of supply. This
was duly entered on the ledger.
Grays, haircloths and aprons:
It was reported that there was no previous rules on the grays since their
widths were quite different. Therefore, instead of establishing prices for these
items, the rule of ten-eleven was suggested.
The haircloth weavers said that the previous municipal rule for this item was
sixteen hundred warps, a length of three arşıns and a quarter and a width of an
arşın and a quarter. The inspection revealed however that there were three
hundred warps missing and the width was one girah less. They were admonished and
told to obey with this rule.
The gray apron cloth will have twenty two hanks, with eighty threads per
hank. It will have an indigo dye, a length of one arşın and seven-eights, and a
width of one arşın and a quarter. The inspection revealed six hanks less and the
width was under the standard. The colour was noted to be a lot darker than
indigo, the explained it by saying that the grays coming from elsewhere were of
this colour and they had to comply with it in order to have uniform goods on the
The white, pink and yellow cloths which should have sixteen to seventeen
hanks of warp had two hanks less. This was explained by the arrival of these
cloths from elsewhere. They added that the yarns that reached the market were
bought by the wholesale merchants before they arrived to the spot and resold
them at ten-twelve and higher rates. This was duly entered on the ledger. The
public bath owners also complained about the short sizes of bath towels made of
these cloths and said that the intimate places of the bathers were becoming
Boot makers and their assessors were summoned to the Council together with
the city fathers and trustworthy consumers and an inquiry was made on the boot
and footwear situation. It was learned that there was no rules on these items.
Therefore, it was decided in unanimity that the red goatskin boots bought for
twenty akças would be resold at thirty, provided that they reached below the
knees, the soles are fixed with three rows of nails and sewn with a strong
thread. A sixteen akça goatskin boot of the same features would ten be resold
twenty four, the twelve akça ones would be offered for twenty two akças. If they
have double soles, this will command an additional price of two akças. The
goartskinlined short boots will sell for fourteen akças, and the better quality
ones will be permitted to be sold at sixteen. The persian goatskin shoes with ox
leather soles, goatskin-lined, broad soled and cleat-tipped shoes will sell for
twenty one akças, medium to large will be for eighteen and medium ones will be
for fifteen akças. If these shoes are made of ox leather; have goatskin-linings
and ox leather heels, large and medium sizes will sell for eighteen and fifteen
akças. The wholly ox- leather shoes will sell for thirty-two akçes the large
sizes and the medium ones will be for twenty-six- akças. Large size ox leather
shoes of the above quality but with goatskin lining will sell for twenty-seven
akças and the medium ones will be for twenty-two. The belly side of the leather
will never be used for the boots and shoes and extra soles will have been sewn
on the lower sole. The janissary boots of buffalo skin and goatskin lining will
sell for seventeen akças in large sizes and fourteen for smaller ones. If they
are made of black ox leather and with three rows of nails, they will command a
price of sixteen akças. The french ox leather boots with goatskin lining will
sell for fifteen and fourteen akças depending on size. The black french ox
leather boots with lining and nails will be at eleven and nine akças. The all ox
leather booth will be eleven akças for medium large, twenty for extra large,
fifteen for large and eight for medium sizes. Women’s shoes will be at seven
akças. If they are made of ox leather, they will sell at twelve akças for large,
eight for medium and six for small size. Goatskin uppers will be at five akças
for small feet and lower quality ones will be sold at four akças.
Tailors of official uniforms said in the council that new prices were sent
from Istanbul when the mayor was changed. But this edict could not be located
anywhere. It was suggested that the former mayor might have taken it together
with him when he departed. Since the aged tailors did not have any information
on this matter, it was agreed that an entry should be made on the ledger to that
The quilt makers and their assessors declared in the Council that the length
of the gray cloth was twelve spans. The inspection revealed however lengths of
eight and nine spans. It was decided that the length will be twelve spans from
now on and the price will be thirty-two akças if they are eight spans wide, with
a tight weaving.
The black bags of three span length and width will sell at five akças if they
have two spun handles.
The gray bags of three span length and width will sell at four akças if they
have two spun handles.
The donkey feed bags with two and a half span length and width will sell at
The large sacks with a capacity of more than one mud will sell at eighteen
akças if they have tying strings.
The eleven-span long and eight span-wide black horse stable bags will sell at
twenty five akças.
The horse saddle girths will sell for five akças, while the higher-quality
ones will command a price of six akças, with possibility of an even higher if
more arduous labour is invested in them.
If hobbling ropes have ten plies, they will be sold at three akças.
It was learned that there was no previous rules adopted for the saddlemakers.
It was decided that the double-layer halters should be sold at eight akças,
those with double-layer headgear should be for six akças, the single-layer ones
should have a price of five akças and those of lower quality should be available
for four akças. Ox leather bits should be seven and eight akças depending on
quality of workmanship and material.
It was reported that the linings of buffalo skin bits were also of the same
material, but now sheep and goatskin is used.
This was forbidden and buffalo leather was reinstated.
An examination of old rules on farriers showed that complete shoeing of a
horse was at six akças for the past twenty-five years, while five akças were
charged for mules and four akças for donkeys. The rules also dictated that the
farrier was responsible to care and feeding the animals injured during shoeing.
This rule was retained as such.
Under the old rules, twelve one-oke chords used to be sold for one akça when
the green fodders arrive to the city, which was reduced to fourteen chords an
akçe five days later and sixteen chords an akça in the next three days and
twenty-four chords an akçe after ten days until the supply ends. The examination
made on the scales showed that the old rules were in complete disregard for the
reasons mentioned previously.
It was reported that the old rules were such that twenty-four one-oke chords
of lucerne were sold at one akça since the first supplies were mixed with other
grass and that the price was later raised to one akça per twenty chords.
The old records confirmed this. But for the last four or five years, the
suppliers had acquired a habit of dividing the one-oke chords into two or three
and sell such underweight bundles still at twenty or twenty-four akças, which
meant that the actual sales were not more than twelve okes. Asked why such was
the practice, the lucerne suppliers stated that the city had grown much, the
number of animals increased and the demand for lucerne rose. But the city
fathers retorted that the lucerne fields increased more than the growth of the
city. It was therefore decided with also the consentment of the lucerne vendors
that the first crop should be sold as twenty one-oke bundles and the following
crops should be marketed as eighteen one-oke bundles. Vendors had nevertheless
returned to the Council and said that they could not sell at these prices. When
they were asked why they did not accept selling a lesser amount while they were
obliged to deliver twenty-four and twenty bundle chords before. They answered
that the records were correct, but added that the municipal officials were
coming to their shops and collecting one or two akçes everyday from them under
the pretext that they were selling underweight stuff and then tolerating the
sales. It was resolved that the current price should be observed.
The felt laid under the saddle will weigh one and a half oke and the producer
will charge four and a half akça for it while the price at the saddlemaker will
be five akças.
The special one-oke saddle felts will sell for three akças if they are cured.
The shingle sheaths will be two ziraîs long and there will not be more than
twenty planks per hundred pieces.
Lengths of the carpenter, furniture-maker and flooring planks were eight,
nine and twelve spans respectively under the old rules, which went into complete
disregard in the last four or five years still for the previous reasons.
The firewood to be hauled on mules will be three spans long. Nine spans are
allowed for those carried on camels. It was reported that a little bit was
always cut off the tips of these wood stems once they arrive at the yards of
woodsellers who thereby tried to compensate for the bribes paid to the municipal
Assessors of goldsmiths in the Council reported that there was an imperial
edict to the effect that all silver objects would be made in eight-tenths purity
level. The examinations made in the shops of jewellers revealed however many
silver plated copper buttons. The goldsmiths said that they were not of their
products, but they were actually buying them from the passengers coming from
İstanbul. The goldsmiths were ordered to revert to the old rules and never use
gold inferior to the quality of the one selling for sixty akças per miskal.
Though the old rules was such, violations were determined for the same reasons.
The coppersmiths never tinned the old copperware and sold them as new before.
They always did their sales on the ten-eleven basis. The situation was found
different today and they were ordered to revert to the old rules.
The nightcap makers summoned to the Council and asked to explain the old
rules said that they used to sew taffeta linings into the night caps embellished
with gold coins. Linings of the village women’s caps were of cheesecloth while
the city women wore honan caps and hemmed. Lower quality cloths were never
permitted. The button for the veil, now simply glued by a sort of cement, was
always strongly sewn at the inner side. The examinations made on actual objects
confirmed what was said by the assessors and the old rules were ordered to be
The cotton carders used to charge half an akça for one hundred dirhams of
cotton to be carded. When they sold carded cotton, they used the ten-eleven
rule. It was found that the old rules were in force in this vocation.
It reportedly was not customary to set prices for the habersdashers. Yet they
used to add five dirhams of poppy seed oil to one hundred dirhams of sweetmeal
oil. Some of the haberdashers even used more poppy seed oil to obtain a heavier
stuff. The old rules were reinstalled and the paper wrapping used for selling
sugar should not be more than three layers and the powder of the sugar should be
placed into a separate paper cone at the delivery to the customer and that they
should apply the ten-eleven rule in their sales.
Milk and Yoghurt:
The milk and yoghurt sellers said regarding their prices that sheep breeders
and other used to bring milk to the city and sell it by visiting each quarter
and street and that both the direct consumers and yoghurt makers bought from
them. They sold the milk at one akça per six hundred dirhams first and two oke
in the second week and four oke in the third week.
Yoghurt made of sheep milk was one copper bowl of one oke first, two bowls in
the second and three bowls in the third week.
Yoghurt made of cow milk sold at one akça for two large bowls. Each bowl
contained two okes. The inspection failed to find any trace of old rules. Though
the deviation was evidently due to the oft-quoted reasons, the old rules were
reinstated, whereby the milk peddlars will continue to sell milk on
house-to-house basis and deliver both to consumers and yoghurt makers. There
will henceforth be three yoghurt shops and producers will not go out of the city
to buy the incoming milk.
An inquiry made among the locksmiths revealed that the old rules were still
The examined buildings showed full obedience to the Emperor’s orders, who set
a daily wage of twelve akças for the architects. The old rules were
reintroduced, with the difference that architect’s fee will not be paid to the
apprentices under their training.
The summoned adobe makers said that the small adobes weighed five and the
larger ones weighed eight okes. The inspections revealed lesser weights always
for the same reasons and the old rules were introduced again.
The grave diggers said that they digged the men’s graves to the chest and
women’s graves to the shoulder depth for nine akças. The grave charges were
fifteen akças for the well-to-do and ten or eight akças for the poorer. Higher
charges will not be asked for and one tombstone will not be sold to several
The municipal controller dispatched to the grain market had discovered that
all scales in the market were tampered with and all weights on which the mayor’s
seal existed were underweight. It was found that they never controlled the
scales and weights for so many years. Vendors claimed that the municipal
officials used to visit them every two or three days and collected bribes from
them to keep silent. Another finding was that the practice was to buy the
delivered grains and pulses from the producer and resell them on ten-eleven
basis. But now the vendors were going to the villages and buying the entire crop
in advance, store them in their hideouts and selling them at higher prices by
creating an artificial shortage. This was forbidden, arrangements were made such
that the grains and pulses that used to be bought under the old rules will
continue to do so at the exclusion of hoarders.
The rice market was such that an official of the mayor used to visit the
merchants together within the assessors and set prices on ten-eleven basis for
each type of rice. But the mayor seemed to have abandoned this practice for the
past four or five years against certain considerations. The old rules were
Tanners and their assessor admitted to the Council meeting said that they
used the full amount of canine dung and tanning oil as required by the old
rules. But it was found that they had started cutting the corners in the
required amounts in the last four or five years, with the result that the tanned
leathers develop cracks in the winter. They also used to buy sheep and goat
skins on hoof by going to the villages. This was found to be against the
religious tenets and forbidden and the new prices were set as follows:
Good leather is the red one and will sell at twenty akças if it does not have
blemishes. Unblemished leathers in olive green, dark violet and other seven
different colours will sell at sixteen akças and blemished ones will be for
Sheep skin will be at four akças for good quality and three akças for
Raw black cow skin will be at twelve akças and tanned ones at twenty five
Raw black ox skin will be at ninety akças and tanned ones at hundred and
As all the old rules were found to be disregarded, they were reinstated.
The candlemakers and their assessors, replying the questions on the old
rules, said the following:
When the mutton sells at one akça per two hundred and fifty dirhams, one
batman of raw oil is sold at thirty-two or thirty-three akças, with the result
that one oke of candles are sold at three and a half akças. The price of soaps
two akças and three quarters, liver oil and tallow sell at two and a half akças
and tripe oil sells at two akças. The record confirmed what the assessors said.
But the price of one batman of oil rose by four or five akças a year since 1490
and reached today the level of fifty akças. Thus one oke if candles sells for
five akças, tallow sells for four and a half akça, liver oil sells for four
akças and tripe oil sells for three and a half akças. When the candlemakers were
demanded to sell at the prices indicated in the old rules, they replied that
they could not do that since the butchers were selling them the oil at a price
higher than before. Therefore it was decided that one oke of candles will be
sold at four akças when one batman of raw oil is available for forty akças. In
the middle of the summer, the candle prices will be three and a half akças when
one batman of raw oil goes down to forty-four akças. The price of soap will
always depend on that of the candles be three quarters of an akça lower.
The inquiries about the salt price showed that it sold at one akça per four
okes when it is abundant in summer and one akça per two okes when it is scarce
in the winter. It was reported however that the salt vendors always delivered
half an oke less to the shopkeepers. Thus the old rules were reintroduced. We
beg to inform the Glorious Emperor to adopt this report as a law for strict
obedience and for prevention of deviations.