In addition to the palace residents, ordinary people -without any discrimination whatsoever- would attend the wedding festivities. Artists and entertainers throughout the Empire were performing in these festivities and ceremonies
In the Ottoman State, wedding ceremonies were held for the sultans and padishahs, and circumcision feasts were organized for the sons of the padishahs. Especially the circumcisions were given high importance. The celebrations lasted for at least three days and nights, or sometimes for a couple of weeks. For Instance In 1582, the circumcision of Shahzadah Mehmet (Mehmet III), son of Sultan Murat III, was celebrated for 50 days. During the nighttime, celebrations continued with candle light and torchlight illuminations and fireworks. In addition to the palace residents, ordinary people -without any discrimination whatsoever- would attend these festivities. Artists and entertainers throughout the Empire were performing in festivities and ceremonies. Many artists and craftsmen, from different branches of arts -like poetry, architecture, decoration and embroidery, three-dimensional portraying, illumination, music, dance, pantomime-, were brought together to stage or exhibit their works. While circus, military and sports shows were performed, parades were held.
Most Important Object of the Wedding: Nahıl Nahıl is a tree-shaped accessory made of wax. It is ornamented with nutshells, precious stones, golden and silver leaves, silk handkerchiefs, candles, colorful and gilded papers. Some nahıls were designed in gigantic sizes. There were nahıls as high as 24m, which were taken around the entire city. In case a problem would arise, while the nahıl was being walked around the city, instead of looking for an alternative route, the guards would demolish the building hindering the nahıl from passing. Nahıls were thinning towards the top, more or less like pyramids. Usually, the bottom perimeter would be around 5-6m. Its shape was symbolizing the manly power of the groom, while the ornamentations were signifying the abundance of the bride’s fertility. In 1524 the two nahıls decorated for the wedding ceremony of Makbul İbrahim Pasha, were comprised of 60.000 and 40.000 pieces.
Hürrem Sultan’s weddingIn the writings about Hürrem Sultan’s (a.k.a. Roxelana) wedding, found by the English Consul Sir George Young, it was recorded: “In İstanbul, something extraordinary took place, something which has never happened in the history of the Ottoman dynasty. Padishah Sultan Suleiman married his concubine Roxelana, of Russian origin, who became the empress. Great festivities took place in the city. The indescribable wedding ceremony, which was held in the palace and the dazzling entertainments were beyond imagination. A wedding paradewas organized. All the streets were illuminated at night. Performers played instruments. Many entertainers took stage. The residents were decorated with lights. On almost every corner there were swings for the public to have fun. A large platform was constructed on the Sultanahmet Square. A gilded fence was built around the platform, which was reserved for the new empress and the women of the palace. Here a great competition was held. Hürrem Sultan and the other palace residents came to watch it. The competition was attended by Muslim and Christian knights. Acrobats, rope dancers, jugglers, many ferocious animals, long-necked sky-high giraffes performed many shows.”
Fatma Sultan, daughter of Ahmet III Another well-known wedding was organized for the daughter of Ahmet III, the famous sultan of the Tulip Period (1718-1730). Ahmet III was very meticulous about the upbringing of his beloved daughter, who was born in 1704. When she was only five Ahmet III sent a message to Silahtar Ali Pasha, one of the popular pashas of the time. He ordered the pasha to send his gifts for the engagement ceremony. Considering that Ali Pasha was one of the richest persons of his time, the engagement presents were talked about by the entire city. The countless presents were the top subject of the gossipers. Ali Pasha sent presents not only to his bride-to-be, but to his father, the Sultan, her mother, the other palace residents and to her nannies. The list of the presents exceeded 30 pages. Among them were horses, jewelry, belts, valuable books, prayer-rugs, prayer beads made of precious stones and pelts.
Ümmügülsüm Sultan gets engaged Inspired by the engagement he organized for his first daughter Ahmet III made endless charities. He became so exuberant with his achievement that he ordered Vizier Abdurrahman Pasha to engage his second daughter, who was a baby in her cradle at the time. After the celebrations for 25 days, Fatma Sultan’s bride parade was held. This parade was richer and more glittering that the procession carrying the bride’s trousseau. That day, all the viziers, scholars and state officials came to Topkapı Palace and waited for the procession. Finally, Fatma Sultan left the palace in a silver carriage, accompanied by 31 other carriages full of palace women and maids and nahıl carriers. The silver carriage Fatma Sultan was riding was simply stunning, although they definitely were not as eye-catching as this one; the other carriages were also reflecting the wealth with their colors, horses and drivers. In front of the procession the tall shipyard workers were walking, carrying the silver nahıl. The carriages had horses with heavy fabrics wrapped around their necks. The procession, led by the grand vizier, was wandering slowly around the streets of İstanbul.
Shows and fireworks on the Golden HornThat day the heart of İstanbul and of the empire was beating at this procession. The participants wore their best outfits and carried their most valuable arms and pistols. Ahmet III was trying to show his power and wealth to his people with this street parade instead of revealing his supremacy to the entire world in the battlefields. With the feasts and festivities he organized, with the mansions he had built during the Tulip Era and with all the luxury, he had changed the outlook of the capital city and ushered a new epoch in the Empire. The wedding day was a historic day for İstanbul. Everybody on the streets was happy. Joy was in the air. The streets were overcrowded. The windows were wide open. Faces beneath the veils were praying for the happiness of the bride and for the wealth, dashing look of the Sultan and his procession. The procession was literally throwing money on the streets. People were stepping on each other to snap the coins. The procession arrived Eyüp, at the palace, prepared for Fatma Sultan. The procession participants disintegrated. Everyone had an entertainment to watch. Padishah and his wife went back to their palace. In the evening shows were staged on the Golden Horn, while fireworks were being lit on rafts.
Silahtar Ali Pasha dies in war
After this tiring and overwhelming wedding, which lasted for 25 days, Silahtar Ali Pasha could not have Fatma Sultan. He had to send her back to the palace and wait for a while until she grows up and becomes a young lady. Silahtar Ali Pasha had to wait eight years for Fatma Sultan’s adolescence. He never had a chance to have a single private moment with her. Unfortunately, he died in Petervaradin War before he could reunite with his fiancée, for whom he spent a fortune and organized feasts for weeks in order to gain supporters for his love. He became a martyr before he could realize his dreams.
Kösem Sultan marries her daughters
In the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans could marry before they were adolescents, but they could not share the same house with their spouses. This tradition was started by the well-known empress, Valide Kösem Sultan. For the sake of fortifying her position in the palace, Kösem Sultan married her minor daughters with the elite and reputable pashas of the time. Likewise, Ahmet I married her daughters Ayse Sultan and Fatma Sultan at the age of 13. Sultan Ibrahim married Gevher Sultan at 3, Beyhan Sultan at 2. Emine, Ayşe and Safiye Sultans, the three daughters of Mustafa II, were married at 7. As mentioned above, Ahmet III had his daughters Fatma and Ümmügülsüm married at 5 and 2. Moreover, he married Atike Sultan at 12. Mustafa III married his son Şah Sultan at 3. This abnormality continued until the reign of Mahmut II, who put an end to this situation and set the marriage time as the adolescence.
This weird tradition described above and the ongoing wars had a natural consequence. The sultans were widowed many times and were married more than once. The daughters of Ahmet I, Ayse, Fatma and Safiye, all married 6 times, which was a dynasty record. This record is followed by Safiye and Emine, daughters of Mustafa II, who married 4 times. So did Atike Sultan, daughter of Ahmet III. Düzenleniyordu
In the Ottoman State, wedding ceremonies were held for the sultans and padishahs, and circumcision feasts were organized for the sons of the padishahs. Especially the circumcisions were given high importance
In the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans could marry before they were adolescents, but they could not share the same house with their spouses
Nahıls, as tall as 24m., used to be taken around İstanbul streets