The close relationship with nature, a common feature of the Turkish; people
reveals itself in the sitting habits. It had been customary for a Turk to sit
on the ground, as he can sit anywhere that can be regarded clean. He does not
need any additional device. When sitting on the, ground, he pulls a leg under
him. If he is at home, he can sit directly on the wooden flooring or on
carpets or kilims spread on the floor, on cushions or ultimately on a divan. The
sitting posture on the divan is the same as sitting on the floor.
The Divan (Sitting Platform) One can sit on a divan either to rest, to enjoy
a brief break, for a chat with a friend, a meeting, to warm up a bit or to do
some work. The divans are placed beneath the windows, both in the rooms and in
the hall. Apart from the divans along the two window-walls of the
room, some can be found on either side of the hearth, along the hearth wall. Thus, a sitting space is provided all around the room, except along
the entrance wall. The projections of the halls provide an even better view of
the street and the landscape and provide a sitting space with plenty of light.
The whole base of the chamfered bay windows is covered with a divan, creating a
wider sitting space. This is a very intense living area where women sit and
embroider, chat with one another and frolic with their children playing by their
The divan is a platform slightly raised from the floor. This height was very
suitable for smoking the long pipes which were very popular during the last
century one end of which rests on the floor. Turks sit either with one or both
legs gathered crosswise under the body or on both knees. All these positions
require a wide sitting space, which explains the 75-105 cm width of the divan.
Mattresses stuffed with dried rice stems are placed on these platforms. The
height of the divan is 35- 45 cm with the mattresses. The relations between the
proportions of the divan, the windows and the wall are very well established.
Resting your arms on the leaning cushions, you can comfortably look out of
the window. A young girl can easily reach for her piece of
embroidery in the nearby cupboard and carry on with it, a man can reach for his
book on the sergen and read. Writing is also done sitting on the divan.
Formerly, divans were called "sofa", in Safranbolu.
Sitting on the Floor
The floor is another area for sitting. One can sit on a carpet or kilim laid
on the floor, or else on a cushion. When there is not enough space on the divans
due to too many visitors, or when the visitor is someone well-respected the
young generation sit on the floor instead of the divan. As nearly everyone can
sit on the floor, even a small room can house quite a crowd when necessary
without having to worry about providing chairs' for everybody. In winter,
cushions of 75x150 cm size stuffed with cotton are placed on one or both sides
of the hearth. Well-stuffed leaning cushions are placed against the hearth wall
and thus a comfortable seat is provided close to the source of heat. While
dining around the round, low table, again one can either sit on the floor or on
cushions. Women preparing the meal by the hearth also sit on the floor. Some of
the cushions are stored in closets.
In places where it is not possible to sit on the floor because it is not clean
enough, a low stool is used. In the ablution closets, or working in front of the
hearth at the cauldron in the hayat, they use this stool to sit on.
Sitting in the Garden
A cool, shady comer is always available for sitting in the garden. The pool
with its fountain serves to provide a refreshing atmosphere while being also
used for watering the garden. Generally a trellis with a creeping
vine provides shade by the pool. It is habitual to sit and refresh
oneself in a room like this, with its pool and fountain in the centre and the
divans beneath the windows all around, while sipping coffee prepared at the
small fireplace in one corner. Some of the
larger ones have been prepared for use as selamlik pavilions. In these, both the
pool and its surroundings are more spacious and in addition there are a few
rooms and a toilet. The selamlik pavilions have
separate entrances from the street.
THE PREPARATION OF FOOD The Kitchen (Asevi)
In Safranbolu, the preparation of food is carried out in a specific room,
locally called the "asevi" (food-house). This room, the kitchen,
contains all the common features of a room. As this can be used for sitting or
sleeping in, any of the other rooms can serve as a kitchen as well. No special
organization is required for cooking. This is the outcome of the approach to the
room as a living unit. However, in spite of the possibility for multiple uses
there is always a room designated as the kitchen in a Safranbolu house; because
there is need to have the utensils necessary for cooking close at hand; either
in the kitchen or nearby. The kitchen is generally on the middle floor. It is
there that women pass most of their day, thus it is organized as a day-time
living area. Especially in winter women prefer to work, sit and warm-up in the
kitchen. This is where the meals are generally served. The only difference
between the kitchen and the other rooms is that its hearth is slightly larger,
its cupboards and niches are more in number and its sergen is wider. In the
kitchen there are also divans and closets.
The organization of the kitchen is not very sophisticated. This is a common
characteristic of all Turkish houses and is the heritage of the nomadic way of
life. In order to prepare the food, first the vegetables are washed either in
the garden or in the kitchen by pouring water from a copper ewer into a large
copper bowl, then they are peeled and chopped. This is done either sitting on
the floor in front of the hearth or on a cover spread over the divan.
The kitchen utensils are stored on shelves in cupboards, classified according
to the types; saucepans and frying pans occupy different shelves.
All kitchen utensils are of copper. In some houses saucepans and dishes with
lids are lined on the sergen, ranging from large to small, for decorative
purposes. Soap is also lined on the sergen to help it dehydrate.
Some of the ingredients necessary for preparing food are kept in small
quantities in the cupboard by the hearth. Tomato paste, oil, braised meat, rice, cracked wheat and sugar are stored there,
within easy reach of the women. Food is either stored in the pantry or the storage chests; the I kitchen
is not used for this purpose. The pantry is either adjacent or close to the
kitchen. In the pantry cupboard with fly-proof wire netting, the
meal of the day, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and braised meat is stored. There
is a special place in the kitchen cupboard for the unleavened bread prepared in
thin layers once a month in winter
and more frequently in summer. In the small niches on both sides of the hearth you can find the salt pot, matches, a wooden mortar for crushing garlic,
a bronze mortar for walnuts, dried mint, bottles of vinegar and sour grape
juice, coffee and sugar.
Food is cooked in the hearth over a wood fire. The saucepan is placed on a
trivet. Under the cupboards near the hearth firewood is stored for daily use.
Each night, before going to bed, all the hearths in the house are cleaned; a
routine that cannot possibly be skipped. First the ashes are gathered and put
out in case of any live cinders. Then soil wetted in a bowl is spread on the
base of the hearth with a piece of cloth, thus covering all the sooted surfaces.
This is defined as "plastering the hearth ". As a pure white hearth
with no trace of soot symbolizes, in a way, the cleanliness of a housewife,
plastering is of great significance.
Dishes are washed in a basin heated on a trivet over the fire. The blackened
saucepans are scrubbed clean with lemon juice and ashes.
The water used for washing dishes is poured down to the garden. At later
dates a wooden sink was installed in one of the kitchen cupboards, at
counter-top level, with a small water tank having a tap close at hand. In some
layouts, this sink is in a separate space entered from the kitchen and open to
the exterior with a wooden lattice. Used water coming from the kitchen sink is
never mixed with that of the toilet; it has a separate cesspool.
Apart from the kitchen the hearth for the cauldron, the open hearth in the
garden is used for cooking specific foods: pastry , bread-with-meat, etc.
Food can be eaten anywhere that it is possible to sit the household usually
have their meal in the kitchen, while the visitors are served in the visitors
room. During crowded family gatherings food is served in the hall. On
such occasions men and women have their meals separately. In houses where there
are harem and selamlik units, men and women are served in their own sections. In
order to serve the selamlik from the kitchen, there is a cylindrical cupboard,
revolving around a central axis and open on one side. Through this opening,
plates are placed on its shelves by the women in the kitchen. The men in the
selamllk can fetch these plates by turning manually the open side of the
cupboard towards them and return them in the same way after having finished.
Before serving the meal a spread is laid on the floor on which a
low, round, wooden table is placed. When there are visitors or in the richer
houses copper or brass table tops can replace the wooden ones. The table-top can
vary in size according to the number of people to be served. When there is not a
copper table-top large enough for this purpose, a large wooden table top which
can be folded into two semicircles for easy storage, is used. Ten to fifteen
people can be served around such tables. Tablecloths are not used either on
wooden or on copper table-tops. Cushions are placed on the floor all around the
table, on which people sit. Around crowded tables, everyone sits
sideways, with the right side closer to the table, so as to occupy the minimum
Food is served in one big dish placed in the centre of the table and everyone
eats out of it. Spoons are used for soup, rice (pilaf) and fruit compotes,
otherwise they use their hands instead of forks and knives. Everyone has a
napkin. Sometimes one long napkin covers the lap of everyone around the table.
When a visitor is served coffee or fruit syrup, it is brought in a tray and
handed over. The visitor has to finish it quickly and hand it back, because
there is no place he can put the cup or glass and take his time. Meanwhile, the
serving lady waits a few steps back, with the tray in her hand. If it is fruit,
pastry or cake that is to be served, then the table is set on the floor.
TASKS RELATED TO FOOD PRODUCTION
The most important part of the productive activities within the household,
takes place in the garden. This is one main reason for moving to the summer
house. As soon as spring arrives, daily trips are arranged to the summer house
in the Baglar region, so as to perform some inevitable chores. Men are hired if
necessary. In some houses there is an extra visitors bedroom built above the
hearth where peasant workers are put up when they have to stay overnight.
Watering the garden: Water, which is essential for garden cultivation,
was brought centuries ago to the Baglar region. The source of the water used
for this purpose is a cave on the Inyaka mountain, north of Safranbolu, which
justifies its local name; "cave water". The supply of irrigation
water is limited to the Baglar district; it is not supplied to the sehir. With regular channels
running along the streets, water is ; distributed
throughout the Baglar district. After the watermill at Degirmenbasi the water is divided into three branches. There are people in charge
of the even distribution of water amongst the gardens. Formerly each garden got
water every 8 to 10 days and this was sufficient, even for the summer months. In
winter the water supply increases and overflows from the channels. It is
extremely cold. Once the water is diverted from the channel to the garden, it is
first sent to the furthest corners of the orchard, then gradually chanelled
closer to the house. Part of it is stored in the pool to be used when water is
Preparation of Food
In Safranbolu, the way of life is closely related to seasonal change. Moving
to the summer house is in a way essential from an economic point of view. It is
in the summer house that the preparation of food for all seasons is realized.
People move to their summer house so as to benefit fully from the soil crops,
which are at their best during the months of spring, summer and autumn when
growth occurs and nature bears its fruits. Crops are sown, tended, harvested,
partly consumed and partly stored away for winter consumption. The excess
produce can also be sold.
In general, the men of the house have their own jobs outside the home.
Therefore these tasks are usually performed by their wives and other members of
These are spacious houses in large gardens, designed to include areas required
for activities indispensable to a self-sufficient economy.
The crops harvested from the gardens are treated for preservation over long
periods, either in the garden if the weather is good, or in the hayat or an
Preparation of Fruit and Vegetables
These activities include the preparation of dried fruit and vegetables,
syrups, jams, marmalades, fruit pastes and pickles.
Drying: The following are the main fruits and vegetables which are
dried for preservation: eggplants, fresh beans, okras, peppers, apples, plums,
mulberries and pears. Eggplants are carved, fresh beans are split into two, the
tops of the okras are chopped off and they are strung. The beans are laid side
by side. The okras are dried in the shade of the hayat while all the rest are
dried under direct sunshine on the balcony. August and September are the most
suitable months for drying. Apples and pears are sliced whether peeled or not.
Plums may be skinned or they are slit with a knife. Mulberries are shaken off
the trees onto a clean sheet and are spread on rectangular boards either in the
garden or if there aren't too many, on the balcony. Apples and pears are dried
in September, plums in August and mulberries in July or August.
Mollasses: Syrups are prepared from grapes and mulberries.
Grape: After vintage the best bunches of grapes are selected and
stored away in the grape cupboard. The remaining grapes are crushed in a
hollowed log near the cauldron hearth and the extracted juice is then boiled in
the cauldron with the addition of the "syrup soil" (marl) over the
White Syrup: Beaten eggs and sometimes crushed walnuts are added to
the grape syrup. This syrup is prepared in September.
Mulberry Syrup: The mulberries are boiled in the cauldron. The juice
is strained through cheese cloth and is either re-boiled in a large saucepan, or
left under the sun to set.
Preparing "Pestil": This can be made out of grapes,
mulberries and plums.
"Kofter": This is a jam also made from grapes. The grape
syrup is thickened with starch over the hearth in the cauldron. The mixture is
then poured onto a copper tray or a wooden board and dried either in the garden
or on the balcony. It is prepared in September.
The mulberry syrup is boiled over the cauldron hearth with starch. A cloth is
spread on the wooden planks, the mixture is poured onto it and dried. This is
prepared in August.
Plums are boiled with a little water, pressed and passed through a copper
strainer. The extract is poured onto wooden planks covered with cloth and dried.
This is also prepared in August.
Tomato paste: Tomatoes are pressed and either boiled thoroughly, or
after being slightly cooked are poured onto trays and left to thicken under the
sun in the garden or on the balcony.
Froit pastes: These are prepared from apples, quinces, plums and
comelian cherries. They are cooked in the cauldron, passed through a copper
strainer and a hair-cloth sieve and re-boiled. Fruit pastes are served as a
Froit Preserves: These are prepared from sour cherries, quinces,
comelian cherries and figs.
Preparing Syrops: Syrups are prepared from sour cherries, comelian
cherries, quince, plums, grapes and apples. Fruits are boiled with water, the
juice is strained through cloth sacks and is boiled once again. The syrup of
sour cherries is prepared from uncooked fresh fruit. It is sweetened with sugar
or syrups of mulberry or grape when being served. Nowadays syrups are boiled
Preparing Sour Grape Juice: Grapes are picked while still green and
sour, separated from their stems and pressed inside cloth sacks. The extract is
strained and boiled until thickened. The juice is then stored away in bottles,
to be used as a substitute for lemon or for preparing sour grape syrup.
Preparing Pickles: Green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers are selected,
eggplants are slightly cooked and they are altogether stored in large
earthenware jugs, with the addition of vinegar, salt and garlic. This is done in
the kitchen during September and October.
Preparing Dizin: Walnuts are stringed, dipped several times into the
mixture prepared for kofter (grape syrup boiled with starch) and hung up to let
it set. The dizin is prepared either in the hayat or the workshop and hung out
on the balcony in September.
Preparing Vinegar: After the juice is extracted from the grapes, the
remainder is left to ferment. After one week boiling water is poured onto it and
strained; thus vinegar is obtained. Vinegar can also be produced from mulberries
Food Prepared from Wheat: All around Safranbolu there are fields
cultivated by sharecroppers. The five watermills in Safranbolu produce flour
from the wheat harvested from these fields. The flour coming from the mill is
sieved through three different types of fme sieves, and the end product of each
is used for different purposes.
"Eriste (hand-cut pasta)": It is prepared with the flour of
the finest sieve. The dough is kneaded in the dough-trough in the hayat. It is
rolled out in thin layers and spread on cloth either in the hall or in unused
rooms, to let it partially dry .A few of the layers placed one on top of the
other are cut into long, thin rectangular pieces. Once again it is spread out on
clean cloth to let it dry thoroughly.
"Coin Pasta": The dough is rolled out into even finer layers
and cut out in squares. These tasks are mostly performed within the "imece"- system.
Preparing Bread: Formerly, thin sheets of unleavened bread were
prepared at home, once a month in winter and once a week in the summer. Usually
it takes three women to do the job and lasts from morning till night. In summer
it is prepared in the garden, the hayat or the wokshop and in winter either in
the hayat or the kitchen. The dough is prepared and divided into balls and lined
on a tray. It is rolled out on a rolling board made of boxwood with a rolling
pin. Two women do the I rolling out and handing over while a third one bakes
them on a hot convex metal plate. They are stocked on a circular wood~n tray.
Bulgur (Cracked Wheat): It is made out of wheat or spelt. It is boiled
on the cauldron hearth and dried under the sun, spread out on clean cloth.
Finally it is ground in a handmill. This process takes place in the garden in
"Keskek" (Pearled Wheat): Crude, white wheat is pounded in
the mortar until the hull comes off. It is then used for making
"pilav" (rice dish), soup or asure.
Preparing Starch: Wheat is soaked in water in the cauldron and left
for 12-18 days. It is treaded upon in the syrup trench and the starchy water
thus extracted is drained through a cloth sack. It is spread out on trays or on
clean cloth on the balcony. When it is half dry , it is crumbled, sieved and
layed out to dry for another 40 days. Starch is prepared during July.
Milk Products: Butter and cheese are prepared in May and June, when
milk is abundant. However, the number of cows being limited, this does not
suffice for year-round consumption. Cheese is prepared in the kitchen while
butter is prepared in the hayat.
Preparation of "Kes": After the butter is skimmed in the
churn, the remaining sour milk is strained through cloth sacks. When it is thick
enough, salt is added, it is then divided into small amounts and dried under
baskets, so as to avoid dust and insects.
Preparation of Braised Meat: In the old days, animals were slaughtered
once or twice a week. Meat had to be prepared beforehand for the remainder of
the week. Being a difficult and rather messy process, it is usually done in the
summer house. A male goat is purchased from the market in November.
Mutton is not preferred because it does not preserve well, eminating an
unpleasant smell in a very short time. A butcher comes to the house to slaughter
and skin the animal. The meat is separated into the parts that are to be
preserved and those that will be consumed quickly. The inner skin and fats are
also separated along with the meat which is to be preserved. They are all cut
up with a chopper on a chopping block. The mixture is braised in very large
pans over the cauldron hearth and is then put tightly between copper plates.
Left to cool overnight, the plates are turned upside down and the braised meat
comes out moulded to shape, due to the congealed fat. These are stored away in
All these preparations require hearths other than the kitchen hearth. Most of
the work necessitates lots of space and is messy, that is why the garden is
usually preferred. For this reason, there is always a hearth in the garden.
The Simple Hearth
A hearth on which anything can be prepared and which can be built just by
placing a few big stones on the ground.
The Cauldron Hearth
It is a big, arched hearth with a chimney. Generally, it is built in the
hayat. It can also be in the open air in the garden or beneath
a trellis or else it may be within a separate workshop built in the
garden. The top floor of this workshop generally serves as a bedroom for
visitors or workers from the village. Usually there is a single cauldron hearth
in each house. In the winter houses there is no use for one. If necessary , a
simple stone hearth is built in the garden.
It is very infrequent, as there is always the chance to utilize the market
ovens. Bread, pastry cookies with walnut etc. are baked in the oven.
Production of such intensity necessiates a lot of storage space. These spaces
have been very well defined as a result of many years of traditional way of
life, and very correct solutions have been achieved with regard period, treating
storage space as an integral part of the house.
Storing food is the most difficult of all; very efficient methods have been
found for it. After preservation of food such as drying, cooking, salting etc.,
each item is stored away with the special knowledge and experience of centuries.
The house is in a way formed so as to best accommodate these containers and
sufficient space is provided for them in every house.
The Storage Chests (Granaries): There are large storage chests made of
pine or fir, either in the hayat or the middle floor. These consist of two
sections; one being much larger than the other. You step on the small
chest which is at the back and is approximately of man height. They both have
partitions inside and a lid on top. The base has been slightly raised from the
ground so as to prevent moisture. Chests that are even larger in size can be
very heavy, consequently they are placed on the ground floor. The direction of
the wall against which they are placed is carefully selected; it should be on
the cool side and should not be vulnerable to moisture. Rice, wheat for the
winter, corn, cracked wheat, almonds, flour, bran for the cow and barley for the
horse or mule is stored in the larger chest, generally in separate sacks, as
these have to be stored in large quantities. The dried foods which occupy less
space are stored in the smaller chest. Apart from the storage-chests in the
hayat there may be additional chests on the middle floor or in the pantry .These
are much smaller and usually have a single level. Dried plums, dried
mulberries, cracked wheat, flour, tarhana and starch are stored in these in
cloth bags; dried fruit pulp is stored in baskets; "white syrup" and
"kofter" in woden boxes; syrup and jam in glazed earthenware jars and
braised meat in large saucepans or baskets. Cakes and buns, dried beans,
lentils, dried fruits and nuts can also be stored in smaller quantities in these
The Pantry: It is on the middle floor, close to the kitchen. There are
shelves and cupboards all around it, and an additional storage space (musandira)
over the cupboard. Inside there are storage chests and cupboards
with wire netting. A small quantity of all specimens of food stored in the hayat
is readily available in the pantry .The jams and pastes are kept in the
cupboard, stored in glazed earthenware jars, wooden bowls or saucepans. Syrups,
vinegar, tomato paste, pickles and cheese in earthenware or glass jars, are kept
in the pantry.
"Musandira": In the kitchen, the pantry and in some of the
rooms, the cupboards above the sergen level are open-fronted to the ceiling.
This open space is called "musandira". There is
either a cornice or a kind of balustrade at the front. "Musandira " is
seen more frequently in winter houses. Winter pumpkins, apples and, in rooms
without a hearth, onions and potatoes can be stored there.
Storage of Firewood
Wood is utilized for both cooking and heating. Wood is abundant due to the
vast forested areas around Safranbolu. Woodcutters bring the wood from the
forest in units defined according to the means of transportation: a horse-pack;
a donkey-pack or an ox and cart. Wood is purchased either in the spring or the
summer. The wood carried down by the animals has a specific way in which it is
cut by the woodcutters: with the swing of the axe in two opposite directions.
Thus, each piece of wood has one pointed edge and one with a dent similar to an
"Bahna": These arrow-shaped pieces of wood are piled up in
regular rows over the bahna, which is the low stone wall in the hayat. The wood is stacked so that the pointed edges face the
exterior of the house. Thus the air current enables the wood to dry. These
orderly piles have more than one advantage: Wood is easily accessible whenever
required for the hearth or stove; the summer breeze coming through the wooden
lattices accelerates the process of drying and one can easily guess the amount
of wood in stock or the amount consumed. An experienced eye can judge at one
glance if the remaining stock will last till the end of winter or not. The bay
in between the pillars positioned over the "babna " is called
"kor". So the responsible member of the household may declare "We
have three bays of wood left until summer" .
"Buhari" Wood carried from the "babna " to be
bummed in the rooms hearths is stored in open cupboards called
"bubari". These are generally arched openings beneath the regular
cupboards. They are mostly in the entrance alcoves of the rooms.
They may also be beneath the cupboards near the hearth. These are generally
cupboards with doors.
Storage of Hay
If there is only a single animal in the house (in which case it usually is a
donkey) it is sufficient to stack hay in one corner of the stable. If, in
addition, there is a horse and a cow, then a barn is built in the garden,
generally adjacent to the house and the street. Hay, which is brought in on
animal-back in large hair-cloth sacks is thrown inside through a door slightly
raised above street level. The flooring of the barn is made of wood. If the back
wall is below the ground, then this is also lined with wood, so as to avoid
moisture. Hay is supplied from the nearby fields cultivated by the
Storage of Furniture
Due to the multi-purpose nature of each room, there are very few pieces of
furniture which are constantly in them. Furniture is brought in when necessary
and put away again after being used. Therefore, each piece of furniture has a
specific place where it can be stored.
Closets for Bedding: There are large closets in the room used for
storing mattresses, quilts and bedding. They are 75-90 cm deep and 130- 150 cm
wide. The mattresses are put away by being folded up into three. The quilts,
sheets and pillows are neatly arranged on top. In order to
lift and store the mattresses which weigh around 10-12 kg, the shelf has to be
60-80 cm high. The closet has double-winged doors and in most cases the space
beneath is arranged as a bathing- room. Bedding-closets are usually either in
the entrance alcove or on the hearth-wall in the room.
Cupboard: The depth and width of the cupboards are less than the
closet dimensions. Their doors can be either single or double winged. They start at 60 to 80 cms from the floor and reach up to the
sergen level. Beneath, there are again cupboards with separate doors, some of
which are used for storing wood, as mentioned before. In the cupboards there are
shelves on which bundles, embroidery and sewing kits, water jugs and glasses,
etc. are placed. Kitchen utensils and crockery are stored in the kitchen
cupboards, while food is stored in the pantry. Grapes for winter
consumption are hung up in cupboards in somewhat cooler areas and these are then
referred to as "grape cupboards".
Pipe cupboards: Smoking long pipes was very fashionable in the 19th
century. In the Asmazlar summer house, there is still a long, narrow pipe
cupboard beneath the raised platform of the middle floor.
"Musandira" (open upper cupboard): Objects which are less
frequently used are stored up here.
The Small Arched Niches: In general there are small niches beside the
hearth; beside the flower niches or beside the
cupboards; three of them placed one on top of the other. These are
small cells with an ornately carved, arched wooden frame. They are sometimes encountered in single or double rows on the mantel
hoods of the fireplaces. They are more of an ornamental
nature. Being a very old traditional feature, its actual function has
disappeared. Odds and ends such as needles, thread, water glasses, matches etc.
are put inside.
"CICEKLIK" (The flower niches): A concave-planned recess
within the wall. There is a wooden shelf at its base protruding outwards from
the wall surface. Generally there are three carved niches on each side, in a
vertical order. It can be in various places: in
the entrance alcove of the rooms; in the room itself on a central axis or in the
hall. It does not exist in houses dating from the 19th century; it seems to be
a rather recently adopted feature of a decorative nature. Probably it is an
outcome of the Baroque influence. Some examples have a fresco painted inside. These tall niches may accommodate a bunch of flowers, mirrors, water
jugs, lamps, clocks etc.
Sergen: It is a shelf 12 to 15 cm wide running all along the walls
the window and door-top level. With these rather
shrunken dimensions it has almost lost its function as a storage space and has
adopted a decorative character defining the upper limit of the usable space
within the room. The sergen is within reach of a person standing up. The doors,
windows, sitting and working areas are below this level. The wall space over
these shelves is seldom used either for the upper coarse windows or for open
cupboards (musandira). The sergen in the kitchen can be wider, in which case the
pots and pans used infrequently use are lined up on it for decorative purposes.
Soap or quince are placed on the sergen of the other rooms.
Storage of Clothing
Bundles: The clothes for wear, the linen and towels are wrapped up in
separate bundles and are either placed on the shelves of the cupboard or arranged in chests. Sometimes clothes for daily use can Ibe hung on the
nails hammered inside the cupboard for this purpose. The notion of a wardrobe
is still very distant, everything being designed to suit the nomadic way of
The Chests: Clothes and linen are placed inside the chests whether in
bundled or not alongside other valuable objects such as gold and jewelry.
Chests are made out of cypress or walnut, the latter being polished. Chests made
of cypress have the reputation of keeping off insects. One other type of chest
is the "kesele" which has a vaulted lid covered with horse hide and a
carpet nailed to the front, mostly sold as dowry chests. Some chests are tin
plated and decorated with nails. Chests are locked if there is anythying
valuable inside. They are placed somewhere near the doors of the rooms or in the
hall. Each house has three to five chests which are also very handy during the
The looms stand in the hall in summer or in the winter room or in the kitchen
in winter. Those weaving for merchants keep their looms permanently installed.
Weaving necessitates continuous labour, it is therefore a difficult job for
households which do not have enough manpower. For this reason in most
households, clothes are woven in their free time solely for domestic use. When
the job is done the loom is stored away in the loft. The home-made cloth is used
for making sheets, shirts, underwear, upholstery and clothes.
Women and young girls make lace or do traditional Turkish needlework, or
embroider. They sew underwear, clothes, bundle wraps, knit cardigans and woolen
belts. These are mostly done in the hall in summer and on the divans in the
rooms, in winter.
These are fabrics woven out of the hair which is the by-product of the
tanneries. Hair is spun in a suitable corner of the garden. After spinning, the
hair is woven in a loom leaning against the wall, much like a carpet loom,
either in the hayat or the hall upstairs. It is mostly the men who do the
Although the common practice is to make felt in the shops of the carsi,
can sometimes be done in the space where hair is spun.
When it is time to sleep, no specific organization is required in the room.
The mattresses are brought down from the closets in which they are stored and layed on the floor. The sheets are spread, the quilts and pillows are
arranged and the bed is ready . Next morning, everthing is rearranged
in the same order; there is nothing left around, once the doors of the closet
are closed. Due to the simplicity of this organization, any room can be used for
sleeping in. Bedsteads entered homes only at the beginning of the 20th century
as a European fashion.
In Safranbolu, water, which is the sole prerequisite of cleanliness, has been
handled within a system for centuries. Water for drinking and daily use is
provided from the main sources nearby. In general Safranbolu's drinking water is
The fountains: There are over a hundred fountains in Safranbolu.
That is to say, there was one fountain per 100 persons at the end of the 19th
century as the total population then was around 7,500. Water comes from a total
of 17 sources, large and small, the most important one among them being the
Hizaryeri in the Gayiza (lncekum) village. It is recorded that it was from this
source that lzzet Pasa brought water to the fountains in the carsi. Some
of the houses as well as fountains, both in the sehir and Baglar districts, also
get their water from this source.
The water sources within the settlement areas: There are some water
sources within the city such as Tabahna water, Fesligen water and Akkuyruk
water, used as drinking water by those living nearby.
The wells: There are very few wells in the sehir but more in Kirankoy. In
the Baglar district there is no need for wells; the few which have been dug are
used for providing chilled water.
The well-cisterns (buget) : In the Baglar region wells are dug either in
the street or garden, in places where there is no fountain or water source. A
stone wall is built all around the pit and plastered so as to seal it against
seepage of water. The irrigation water coming through the canals along the
street is drained through a very fine cloth spread on the mouth of the well in
the early hours of the morning. It is allowed to spill over for several minutes,
after the well is completely full. The well is then covered. At the end of the
resting period, water is fetched with copper buckets. If the "baget"
is in the street, then it is available for communal use.
Washing Hands and Ablution In the old days, the most common and simple
way of washing hands and performing ablutions was by using an ewer and basin. Generally the younger members of the household (either by age or
conventions) or those in service help their elders to wash their hands or have
their ablutions by pouring water from the ewer into the basin. Using this
method, these functions can be performed anywhere in the house or in the garden.
However this service is reserved for the elders or visitors or is sometimes
used so as not to go out of a warm room in winter.
According to the Islamic tradition, once something is discharged from the
body it is necessary to renew the ablution. This is why the two functions are
mostly performed within adjacent units. The washroom-toilets usually project
from the middle and top floors and the exterior is enclosed with a wooden
The Washroom: This is generally a wooden sink at the countertop level
with a width of 40 to 50 cm. In the middle there is an ornately carved, oval
hole. A slanting gutter-like piece of wood beneath the hole serves to throw out
the used water. There is a trap on this slanting board, a clever device for
preventing the soap from falling down into the garden, if it has accidentally
slipped from ones' hand. Hands are washed or regular ablution is
performed with the water poured from the ewer standing on the counter. Used
water generally runs out directly into the garden, it is not gathered in the
cesspool. There is no running water, consequently water is used very sparingly.
This small amount of used water is partly absorbed by the soil and the rest
The toilet: It is separated from the washroom with a door. The
flooring is of wood. Generally there is a triangular hole with raised footholds
on either side. This hole is either connected through a vertical
wooden shaft to the cesspool, or the excreta falls directly into it. This is why
the toilets of the middle and top floors never coincide in the layout; each has
its own free access to the exterior. There is a copper ewer for intimate washing
in the toilet and a drying napkin for each member of the household.
Collection of Sewage
"Algun"(The Sewer): There is a sort of sewer system
in the sehir dating back centuries. Some houses jointly give their sewage to a
sewer while others discharge theirs through individual sewers into the stream.
These sewers which are called "algun" are built with slate stones.
(Clothes are washed higher up the stream, before it gets polluted).
The cesspool: In the Baglar region the sewage is collected in
cesspools with dry stone walling built in the garden. Thus the sewage is drained
into the ground.
Used water from the kitchen: This is never mi:xed with the sewerage,
in case there are any food particles inside. It is either directly thrown into
the garden or gathered in specific pits.
The used water from the washroom also flows down directly into the garden,
The Ablution Closet (Bathroom): Bathing is an essential of cleanliness
and of the Islamic. tradition. In general bathing, especially the washing
repeated as a religious ritual takes place in the units designed for this
purpose within the house.
The total ablution is performed within the privacy of the room which is a
living unit allocated to a couple. An ablution space is included in each room,
even in the kitchen, as the kitchen is expected to perform all the functions of
the other rooms when necessary. The unit is usually beneath the closet used for
storing the beddings. After the doors of the closet are opened and the
mattresses, quilts, etc. are brought down, the base of the closet is lifted like
a lid. This reveals the bathroom. It is necessary to step over the
height of 60 cm, in order to enter it. The water necessary for bathing is heated
either on the stove in a kettle or over the hearth in a copper bucket. On a
shelf in the bathroom there is another copper vessel in which the hot water is
mixed with the cold brought in a bucket so as to provide a sufficient amount of
lukewarm water. A handled jug is used for pouring the water. Other typical
accessories of a traditional Turkish bath: a small copper or silver bowl in
which the soap is lathered, a loosely woven glove for spreading the lather over
the body, a silk glove to help rub off the dead skin from the body etc. are also
lined on the shelf. The bath is taken sitting on a wooden stool. Being a very
small space, the warmth provided by the steam of the boiling water is sufficient
for a quick, douche-like bath. As the fire is burning in the hearth or stove in
the room in winter, this secures the comfort of corning out into a warm place
after the bath. After the bathroom is cleaned, the lid which at the same time is
the base shelf of the cupboard, is closed and the quilts and mattresses put back
in place. Once the doors of the closet are closed there is no trace of either
function: sleeping or bathing, left to be seen!
The base of the bathroom is of slightly slanting grilled wood. The used water
runs into the garden through a wooden gutter.
The Heated Bathroom (Hamam): In some of the houses of the rich, built
in the first half of the 19th century, one can come across baths heated from
beneath, that is, the hamams. One of these is in the Baglar district, in the
garden of Emirhocazade Ahmet Bey house. This is a well-built, domed hamam in
the classical style. Today, its entrance and the stoke hall are demolished.
One other example of the hamam can be seen in the Asmazlar summer house, on
the top floor. This is a single-tubbed bath, illuminated from the ceiling. By
raising its floor, it has been possible to heat it from beneath. The stoke-hall
is on one side. The fact that both examples are in the Baglar district
may be explained with the distance to the Public Hamams in the sehir.
Public Baths (Hamam): Every ten to fifteen days the members of the
household go to the hamams in the carsi. For the women, this is an occasion
for entertainment: they join their neighbours and relatives and with their lunch
packets ready, go there early in the morning to have a prolonged bath and enjoy
themselves all day. While staying in the summer houses they come to the market
hamams on donkeys, carrying their towels and other accessories in bundles.
In Safranbolu, clothes are washed either in the stream or in the garden.
Along the Akcasu and Gumus rivers there are specific spots prior to the
points of discharge of the sewage, suitable for doing the laundry .Clothes are
washed on slippery rocks which are locally called "cloth rocks". A
woman going to do her laundry fills her cauldron with fire-wood early in the
morning and takes it down to the "cloth rocks", either carrying it on
her shoulder or on donkey-back. She lits the fire, sets her cauldron filled with
water over it and goes back to fetch her laundry, while the water boils.
Clothes are first beaten in liquid clay, then washed with soap on the rocks,
until free of clay. Theyare put into the cauldron and boiled after adding some
more clay, beaten once again and finally rinsed in the stream.
Those living at a long distance from the stream prefer to do their laundry in
the garden. They utilize the source water in the garden, if there is one; if
not, they either fetch water from the street fountain or as is the case in the
Baglar district, they use the irrigation water. On laundry day, the irrigation
water coming through the channels in the street is collected in the pond, as
there will be need for plenty of water. Even if it is not their turn to get the
irrigation water, this need of the household is tolerated by the neighbours and
they are allowed to get some extra water on laundry day. Clothes are washed on a
flat stone, as slippery as oil, by the pond; just as it is washed on the
slippery rocks by the stream. Water is boiled in the cauldron over the simple
open hearths in the garden and carried with a copper bucket. Regardless of the
season, laundry is done in the open air, either on the clothes' rock or the
clothes' stone, because their washing method necessitates the stone and the
beating. In very cold weather, however, certain things are washed indoors, in a
Cleaning the House
A thorough cleaning process takes place before moving into either the summer
or the winter house. The house is scrubbed allover, the window panes are wiped
clean, the walls are whitewashed and the roof is repaired alongside other small
repairs. If necessary , they stay over for a few days so as to complete all
these chores. Char women and repair-men are employed from the nearby villages,
mostly from Gaylza and Bulak, to give a hand with all the work that is to be
done. The wood flooring is brushed with hot soda water, the stairs are rubbed
with fine wire. All cupboard and closet doors are also rubbed clean.
The routine daily cleaning consists of sweeping, dusting, wiping the window
panes and other necessary places.
THE FURNITURE OF THE HOUSE AND FITTINGS OF THE ROOM
There is very little furniture in the Turkish house. The absence of certain
furniture for each different activity (e.g. table, chair, bedstead etc.)
provides flexibility in the use of the room. Thus the same room can be equally
efficient for sitting, eating and sleeping. The tradition of
moving twice a year: from the winter house to the summer house and vice versa at
the end of the season, can be accounted for the reluctance to own a lot of
furniture. Besides, considering the amount of space provided for storing the
furniture essential for daily use, it can rightly be assumed that people have a
dislike for crowded rooms. Within this system, each piece of furniture is
brought out when needed and stored away immediately after there is no more use
Furniture Used for Sitting
The divan: There are no chairs in a traditional Turkish house. In
Safranbolu, people sit on the divan, which is a fitted platform made of wood. A variety of cushions, tough pillows,
mattresses and spreads can be used so as to make it adequately comfortable and
"Yanlik" : It is a mattress with a thickness of 10 cm,
stuffed with rice straw sewn to fit the width and length of the divan. There is no need to remove this mattress frequently, therefore it is big
and clumsy. It is not carried from one house to the other. It has a double
lining. A thin quilt filled with cotton is placed over this rather tough
surface, so as to make sitting more comfortable.
Cushions: Cushions, also filled with the straw of rice are placed
against the wall, all around the divan. These are called "tough
cushions" and are used for leaning back. They are much smaller
than the "yanik", as they have to be frequently removed for cleaning,
being approximately 90-100x35x10-12 cm in size. The cushion fronts are covered
with cotton prints, velvet or even with carpets or kilims in more elaborate
rooms. Cushions covered with carpets are called "carpet cushions".
Covers: The mattress, quilt, tough cushions and the wooden face of the
divan, all have linings and spreads of various home-woven cloth. Generally the
quilt and the cushion covers are of the same cloth which is used to cover the
divan. In summer, these are decorated with laced white cotton (cambric). Or they may be covered with a special home woven cloth. These covers are
fitted like pillow-cases along the whole length of the cushions, so as to keep
them in order. If the cushions are covered with a carpet, so is the sitting
The corner quilt: A cotton-filled thin quilt covered with cloth or carpet is
placed over the corner where two divans meet. Concealing the joining point of
the covers and spreads coming from either side, this makes the corner look
Floor cushions: Cushions are used for sitting on the floor.
The stool: This is a backless chair used for sitting on, in places
such as the bathroom or the hayat, where it is not possible to sit on the floor.
Garden Bench: This is a wooden bench, with ornately carved armrests,
used for sitting in the garden.
Curtains are the indispensable decoration of the house which secure its
privacy and keep out the sun. Formerly, these were made out of plain cambric or
coarse white calico. Later curtains with white lace or embroidery replaced these. The curtains are hung on an iron rod resting on bronze
knobs on two sides of the window. This arrangement facilitates taking the
curtains down for laundry and hanging them back in place.
Apart from the curtains hung on the windows, in winter, quilted curtains are
hung over the doors so as to keep the room warm.
In an empty house, newly moved into, these various spreads and covers, hung
or laid here and there serve to provide a homely atmosphere in almost no time.
This style of decoration is the result of the practical and simple view of life.
Furniture Used for Dining
The table-cloth: It is made out of a plain, home-woven material,
joined so as to achieve the dimensions of 180x180 cm, or 200x200 cm. When the
cloth-printing ateliers in Safranbolu were active, these were taken there and
were imprinted with various designs.
The table: This is a round, wooden table which can be 55 cm, 85 cm or
115 cm in diameter. The height never exceeds 18 or 20 cm. The larger
tables which can accommodate up to 15 people around them have hinges in the
middle which enable folding into two so as to facilitate the storage. These have
a diametre of 160 to 180 cm, but the height is still 20 cm. Tables are stored
away by hanging on the wall of either the kitchen or the pantry.
"Sini" (Metal trays): These are made in two sizes, either of
copper or of brass. The larger ones are utilized for festive gatherings and are
not found in every house.
Table cloth: This cloth is laid under the table, not over it, to
prevent crumbs of bread from falling on the floor. Bread and consequendy crumbs
are respected in the moslem religion, therefore every precaution is taken to
avoid treading on them, even accidentally.
The mattress: These are generally made to serve as double-beds,
125x190 cm in size. Smaller ones are made for children. The wool mattress is
laid directly on the floor, and a thinner cotton mattress is laid over it. They each weigh 12 kilos.
Quilts: These are mostly filled with cotton. The quilt cases are white
sheets which are frequendy renewed.
The cradle: The delicately decorated cradle is an indispensable piece
of furniture in every house.
While carpets decorate the floors of the more elaborate rooms, kilims or
hand-woven spreads are used in the remaining rooms. In the summer houses the
floor is bare except for the guests' room, simply because the plain beauty of
the wooden flooring is well appreciated. Carpets and kilims come from outside
Utensils Used for Cleaning
Water vessels: A copper jug with a handle which has a tin coating
inside is used for carrying water from the fountain. There is always water
either in copper jugs or copper buckets in various places within the house: in
the wash-rooms, in the kitchen, in the hayat or the upper hall. Earthenware
vessels are not used for water.
The ewer and the basin: These are also made of tin-coated copper. The
basin has a strainer on which the soap is placed. There is an ewer in
the toilet and another one in the wash-room (ablution unit), which
is stood on the shelves or cupboards of the unit. There are wooden clog style
shoes in the toilet.
The laundry cauldron: There is a tin-coated copper cauldron in every
house which stands either over the hearth for the cauldron or in the hayat.
The laundry mallet: This wooden mallet is used for beating the dirt
out of the clothes. Heating Equipment.
The brazier: The charcoal of the firewood burnt in the hearth is taken
into a brazier and used for heating wherever it is required.
The heating stove: The use of heating stoves is very recent in
Safranbolu. As a matter of fact, their use in the rest of the country does
not date far back either. According to Moltke, in 1836, only a few of the houses
of the minority had stoves, even in Istanbul. Ayse Osmanoglu (1887-1960)
mentions in her autobiography that the Dolmabahce Palace was heated with
braziers. Thus we can assume that heating stoves came into use at the end of
the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th in Safranbolu. Other evidence in
this respect is the altered use of the hearth chimneys after the stoves were
installed. None of the old houses were initially built with a stove-chimney. As connecting the stove to the hearth
chimney was found to be an easy and cheap solution, the construction of hearths
continued even after the stove was introduced. In the hearth the firewood is
placed on two ornamental iron rods, andirons, cast in the form of a standing
Apparatus for lighting
The Kerosene lamp: Kerosene lamps were put into use in Turkey during
the second half of the 19th century. These lamps were widely used allover the
world after 1860, when kerosene became easily available. Kerosene was
introduced in Istanbul after 1870. It must have arrived at approximately the
same time in Safranbolu.
In some of the richer houses there were lamps suspended from the ceiling
which could be lowered for lighting, with a counter-balancing mechanism.
Smaller lamps with a rounded wick were used to light the surroundings while
going around the house and were later hung up so as to provide a permanent light
throughout the night.
Later pressurised kerosene lamps with incandescent mantles were also
Electricity was first introduced in Safranbolu in 1949, coming from the
electricity generation plant of the Iron and Steel factory of the nearby
Karabuk. Later, in 1962 it was connected to the plant in Catalagzi. Metal
conduit pipes were fitted over the plastered surfaces of houses for wiring.
The kerosene lamps were placed on a shelf or niche over the hearth, or on the
shelf of the flower niche. Occasionally they were placed on special lamp-holders
carved out of wood which were hung on the walls. Their daily maintanence was
carried out each morning: the soot was wiped off the glass, using ash to remove
more obstinate stains. The tank of the kerosene lamp was filled and the burnt
edge of the wick trimmed off with a pair of scissors.
In the hearth there is a trivet, a copper jug for heating water, an ash spade
and a pair of tongs. Later braziers also took their place nearby. A
cup with a handle is placed over the hearth. Ingredients for daily use in
cooking are stored in the cupboard near the hearth (reference: Food
preparation). Saucepans, stewpots, copper pans with lids, trays, copper bowls of
various sizes, frying pans etc. are lined up on the shelves of the kitchen
cupboard. Either on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard or lined
up on the sergen, there are large meat-serving trays with lids and again large
saucepans (casseroles) for cooking meat (generally lamb). Handled copper pots
(cezve) for preparing Turkish coffee, ladles, skimmers and strainers are hung on
Utensils Used in Preparing Food
The following utensils are used in the preparation of bread and pastry:
-The pastry board, which is used for rolling out the dough. There is one or
up to three of them in every house. It is made out of walnut and can be either
rectangular or circular, with a low stand.
-A round tray on which the thin layers of unleavened bread or pastry are
turned so as to get the reverse side cooked.
-The dough trough is a rectangular wooden trough in which the dough is
-A wooden bowl in which the flour which is sprinkled between layers of pastry
is kept. -A rolling pin.
-An iron scraper also used to divide the dough into managable balls. -A flat,
long piece of wood used for turning the thin layers of dough.
All these utensils are kept in the workshop.
The following utensils are used in preparing fruit syrups, fruit extracts and
dried fruit pulp.
-The grape trench is carved out of a thick trunk of a tree and is used for
treading out the juice of the grapes.
-The cauldron can be of a varying size and is used for boiling either the
fruit or its juice.
-A wooden trough slightly raised on feet, in which the sacks filled with
fruit are placed and treaded upon in order to extract the juice, which in turn
runs into a copper basin.
-A copper strainer through which fruit extracts are strained.
-A strainer made of very finely woven hair cloth through which foodstuff,
expected to be very homogeneous and particle-free, is strained.
-Cloth spreads and covers on which mulberry is shaken, or pastry and fme
layers of unleavened bread or tarhana is laid out.
-Wooden planks with slightly raised edges on which mulberries, plums, dried
fruit pulp etc. are laid out to be sun-dried.
These utensils are also kept in the workshop.