Günnaz Özmutlu

Keywords: Ottoman Imperial Harem, Mehmed IV, Cariye, Music, Performance and Theatrical Arts


The purpose of this paper is to establish a better understanding of the life in Ottoman Imperial Harem through a comprehensive study of art education given to the cariyes of the Sultan. The archival documents that form the backbone of this work concentrate on the last decade of the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV. They reveal that not only several cariyes who had already been educated in various arts were purchased but also talented cariyes were educated through private lessons or classes offered by famous artists of the time. The classes were not always held in the harem and some of the cariyes were sent to the houses of the artists. We identified the names and the expertise of the artists that educated the cariyes as well as the payments they received for their service from the archival documents. The cariyes that got music education were taught to play a large spectrum of musical instruments including keman, kanun, tanbur, santur, çöğür, nefir, ney and musikar as well as singing. We determined that the education was not limited to music since some of the cariyes were educated in theatrical arts such as puppet and shadow play. During our research we also encountered several documents regarding food, clothing and various expenses of the cariyes. Our findings about the content and the cost of the education given to the cariyes shed light on the statue of the cariyes in the Ottoman Harem.