Nancy S. Pyle

Keywords: Ottoman Empire, Okka Weights, Metalwork, Dirhems

Abstract

The Ottoman okka is a little known and often misidentified object. In this paper I would like to bring to general attention the historical significance and artistic beauty of these weights. Public negligence of these okkas, and of Ottoman metalwork in general, has caused a tragic loss to Turkey's artistic heritage. Very few okkas remain today; the vast majority have been sold by weight to be melted down and remade into new items of copper and brass. If I can prevent a further loss of these lovely pieces, then my research work will have served its purpose. The Ottomans inherited their weights system from the Seljuks of Rum. The Seljuk forerunners, called dirhems (after the officiol currency of Iconium), were weights in copper or bronze which have surfaced in Konya, Kayseri and other Seljuk commercial centers in Eastern Anatolia. They were cast, circular and with a hole in the center. Their decorative motifs, predominantly bifurcated and trilobed leaves in floral arabesques, were very clear and distinguished compared to contemporary metalwork in Mesopotamia and Persia