The Lands of the Saracen eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about The Lands of the Saracen.
in the struggle to get ashore.  The market-place at Tophaneh was so crowded that nothing but main force brought us through, and some of our party had their pockets picked.  A number of Turkish soldiers and police-men were mixed up in the melee, and they were not sparing of blows when they came in contact with a Giaour.  In making my way through, I found that a collision with one of the soldiers was inevitable, but I managed to plump against him with such force as to take the breath out of his body, and was out of his reach before he had recovered himself.  I saw several Turkish women striking right and left in their endeavors to escape, and place their hands against the faces of those who opposed them, pushing them aside.  This crowd was contrived by thieves, for the purpose of plunder, and, from what I have since learned, must have been very successful.

I visited to-day the College of the Mevlevi Dervishes at Pera, and witnessed their peculiar ceremonies.  They assemble in a large hall, where they take their seats in a semi-circle, facing the shekh.  After going through several times with the usual Moslem prayer, they move in slow march around the room, while a choir in the gallery chants Arabic phrases in a manner very similar to the mass in Catholic churches.  I could distinguish the sentences “God is great,” “Praise be to God,” and other similar ejaculations.  The chant was accompanied with a drum and flute, and had not lasted long before the Dervishes set themselves in a rotary motion, spinning slowly around the shekh, who stood in the centre.  They stretched both arms out, dropped their heads on one side, and glided around with a steady, regular motion, their long white gowns spread out and floating on the air.  Their steps were very similar to those of the modern waltz, which, it is possible, may have been derived from the dance of the Mevlevis.  Baron Von Hammer finds in this ceremony an imitation of the dance of the spheres, in the ancient Samothracian Mysteries; but I see no reason to go so far back for its origin.  The dance lasted for about twenty minutes, and the Dervishes appeared very much exhausted at the close, as they are obliged to observe the fast very strictly.

Chapter XXVII.

The Solemnities of Bairam.

The Appearance of the New Moon—­The Festival of Bairam—­The Interior of the Seraglio—­The Pomp of the Sultan’s Court—­Rescind Pasha—­The Sultan’s Dwarf—­Arabian Stallions—­The Imperial Guard—­Appearance of the Sultan—­The Inner Court—­Return of the Procession—­The Sultan on his Throne—­The Homage of the Pashas—­An Oriental Picture—­Kissing the Scarf—­The Shekh el-Islam—­The Descendant of the Caliphs—­Bairam Commences.

Constantinople, Monday, July 19, 1852.

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The Lands of the Saracen from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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