History Class: How did People live in the 17th Century in Sarajevo?

February 27, 2019 5:30 PM

Evliya Celebi, a Turkish travel writer, visited Sarajevo in 1660. This, as he wrote, beautiful stone city had 17,000 houses and 300 sebilj which were built out of love for the martyrs of Karbala.

The climate in this town is very pleasant, writes Celebi, and the people are blushed. “Mountain pastures are on all four sides of the town, and there is a lot of living water as well. Therefore, the population is very healthy. “Residents of Sarajevo are God-fearing people, with clean, proper and pure belief. They are far from envy and hatred and everyone, whether young or old, poor and wealthy, are persistent in their prayers.

“The people in this area are called Bosniaks. I just prefer when they say Bosnians. As their language is clean, indeed, they are by themselves clever people with proper judgment.”

Celebi also writes how you cannot pass the streets from sweet urchins (naughty children): “They have so many children. May God give them even more!”

The Love for Nicknames

However, Sarajevo did not like the slow people, people without any knowledge, and they respected “those who have any knowledge; highly knowledgeable and ethical people were even give zakat.”

Back then, 6 languages were spoken in the town: Bosnian, Turkish, Serbian, Latin, Croatian and Bulgarian. For Celebi, the language of Sarajevo “is most similar to the Latin.” Travel writer states that the people of this country love to make their names shorter, so Ahmed becomes Ahmo, Sulejman becomes Suljo and Alija becomes Aljo. Female names, that were the modern in the town back then, were Saliha, Saniha, Razija, Merzija, Merjema, Huma, Hava, Hasna, Umihana, Nadira etc.

Sarajevo (1)“Their surnames were again as Lub Zade (Ljubovic or Lubic), Filip Zade (Filipovic), Covo-zade (Covic), Junak-zade (Junakovic), Deso-zade (Desic). The names of their slaves are Hurem, Behlul, Juro, Safo, Hojrad, Ferhad.”

Travel writer stated that there were many ajans(prominent figures) in that time and aristocrats or kibars (nobles). Ajans would wear the robes of saja-fabric (red wool, finer type of fabrics), saja-kontos (exported Jubas – the uniforms of Muslim scholars) and the sable cloaks (fur coat). In winter, they would add skin of the Bosnian red fox to their cloaks, said Celebi, and they would wore the shirts from the special fabric called atlas (the name for the type of brighter fabric, with different border). Shoes were completely yellow and their chalms (turban headband), were colorful and embroidered with gold, and they would wrap them around their head like emperors.

Women of Sarajevo

Back then, there were several thousands of elderly and long-lived people in Sarajevo, who have “been and gone, exhausted and old, the people who have exceeded an average life of 70 years.”

The people of medium income were wearing broadcloth as well, but shabby one and their footwear was somewhat simpler. They wore winter furs from Dubrovnik, which were very well known in this age, with a black lamb wool on the inside. Those poor were also wearing broadcloth, and they were wearing green kalpaks from Krajina on their heads.

urchinsWomen of Sarajevo left a special impression on Celebi.

“Beauties, modest like Rabija Adevija and they were covering themselves. They are unique in their beauty and appropriateness, their words are beautiful, wonderful speech, and teeth like pearls. They are like blooming buds and precious pearls.”

Celebi writes that women in this town would be dressed in red and yellow broadcloth, and they would wear yellow slippers and tomaks (yellow boots made of soft leather). At their heads they would wear precious fes made of broadcloth, dibe (silk fabric embroidered with gold) and kadifa (silk velvet fabric), and they would wear thin white fabric and black patch (scarf made of broadcloth diagonally folded and then put on the head) over them.

However, they would very rarely walk out of the house, since they were modest and honorable.

(Source: Radiosarajevo.ba)

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