Mahzar From a Diplomatic Point of ViewMehmet İpşirli
Mahzars, which are among the document types of Ottoman palaeography, are remarkable both in terms of their physical appearance and content. A multi-signature petition submitted to official authorities for complaints, requests, or thanks is called mahzar. Mahzars are noteworthy in terms of their size, their languages, their treatment in offices, and their numerous signatures, seals, fingerprints, and so on. It also has a remarkable feature in terms of reflecting social life and having particularly colorful content. This study examines the diplomatic features of mahzar, and attempts to show its elements, expressions, and shapes with examples.
Diplomatik Açıdan MahzarMehmet İpşirli
Osmanlı Paleografyasının belge türleri arasında yer alan mahzarlar hem fiziki görünümleri, hem içerik ve işlevleri açısından dikkat çekici belgelerdir. Şikayet, talep veya teşekkür için resmi makamlara sunulan çok imzalı dilekçeye mahzar denilmektedir. Mahzarlar boyutları, büyük çoğunlu Türkçe olmakla birlikte, farklı dillerde yazılmaları, bürolarda muamele görmeleri, alt kısımlarında çok sayıda tasdik ibaresi, imza, mühür, parmak izi bulunması gibi özellikleriyle dikkat çekmektedirler. Sosyal hayatı yansıtması ve çok renkli bir muhtevaya sahip olması açısından da dikkat çekici niteliktedirler. Bu çalışmada mahzarın birinci yönü yani diplomatik özellikleri incelenmiş, rükünleri, ifadeleri ve şekilleri örneklerle gösterilmeye çalışılmıştır.
Although the rich document collections in the Ottoman Archives have been used extensively by historians, it could be argued that the diplomatic examination of documents and registers still has not received the attention that it deserves. Western and especially Balkan historians have realized the importance of the subject and have conducted studies and publications at various levels. In Turkey, Prof. Uzunçarşılı and Prof. Gökbilgin made important studies on Ottoman diplomatics; however, Prof. M. S. Kütükoğlu’s monumental work, Osmanlı Belgelerinin Dili, Diplomatik (The Language of Ottoman Documents, Diplomatics), which she produced with years of systematic and methodical research, became a turning point in this field.
Among the valuable document types of Ottoman palaeography, mahzars are remarkable documents both in terms of their physical appearance and content. Mahzars are noteworthy in terms of their size, their languages, their treatment in offices, and their numerous signatures, seals, fingerprints, and so on. It also has a remarkable feature in terms of reflecting social life and having particularly colorful content. This study examines the diplomatic features of mahzar, and tries to show its elements, expressions, and shapes with examples.
A petition with multiple signatures submitted to official authorities for a complaint, request, or thank is called mahzar. The first known examples of multi-signature applications to official authorities in the Ottoman bureaucracy appear in the middle of the sixteenth century. The multi-signature petition submitted to Suleiman the Magnificent, asking the former Şeyhülharem Piri Ağa to return to his post, probably constitutes the first prototype example of the mahzar. Another mahzar, who complained about the abuses of Kadi Mehmed Efendi and is thought to belong to the time of Sultan Murad III, is considered one of the first examples. Since the second half of the seventeenth century, the number of mahzar-type documents gradually increased, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, submitting mahzars to official authorities was a well-established practice. There are thousands of mahzars belonging to these periods in the various classifications of the Ottoman State Archive.
The mahzars given by the people living in the Anatolia, Rumelia, and Arab provinces in the Ottoman Empire were similar to each other in terms of shape and style. In this similarity, the widely used handbooks and the Ottoman officialdom (mülâzemet) system play an important role.
Mahzars were generally arranged in large sizes and in one piece. While the early mahzars were relatively small in size, large mahzars were arranged in the nineteenth century, and the increase in the number of signatures played a role in their enlargement. The size of the documents enlarged with the addition of i’lam, arz, fatwa, mazbata, expense list. In mahzars, Mahzars were generally arranged in large sizes and in one piece. While the early mahzars were relatively small in size, large mahzars were arranged in the nineteenth century, and the increase in the number of signatures played a role in their enlargement. The size of the documents enlarged with the addition of i’lam, arz, fatwa, mazbata, expense list. In mahzars,
Mahzars from different regions of the Ottoman Empire written in Arabic, Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Georgian were presented to the Divan-ı Humâyun or to provincial divans. However, mahzars written in languages other than Turkish are limited. Sometimes, short Turkish translations of mahzars written in different languages were added for faster evaluation in the Divan-ı Hümâyun. For matters concerning Muslims and non-Muslims, a mahzar was sometimes held in two different languages.
Mahzars were mostly presented to the Divan-ı Hümâyun. There were also mahzars addressed to the sultan (Rikâb-ı Hümâyun), the vizier, the Dârüssaâde aghas and the provincial council. In the mahzars addressed to the sultan, the expression that of “My Sultan (Padişahım)” was written at the top of the document as an expression of respect. Like other documents, the mahzars consisted of some parts in diplomatic terms. After the elkāb part, the city and town where the mahzar owners lived were usually indicated in the mahzars. The subject of complaint or request was briefly summarized in the mahzars and if the subject was complicated it was explained in detail. Then, the mahzar owners express their wishes or thanks.
Mahzars did not usually have dates, although some did. The period of undated mahzars can only be understood from the bureaucratic procedures regulating them. Signatures and seals are the most important elements of mahzars; since mahzar was arranged on a single page, the signatures were placed on the same page and consisted of three main elements, namely, the statement of approval, the name or nickname of the person, his duty and position. The seals were placed under the signatures, and due to the lack of space in some mahzars, seals and fingerprints were placed on the back of the paper. Seals belonging to Muslims and non-Muslims had their own characteristics. Seals belonging to non-Muslims contained expressions in Turkish or partly in Turkish and partly in their own language. Seals -especially those belonging to priests- were quite large and had pictures on them. In mahzars, Muslims and non-Muslims would sometimes print fingerprints instead of seals.
When the mahzar was prepared and presented to the relevant authorities, it went through various transactions. Mahzar owners wanted their mahzars to be reinforced with documents such as fatwa, i’lam and telhis. The owners of mahzars usually applied to a judge and asked them to inform Istanbul of the matter about which they complained or demanded. Mahzars were sometimes written and signed in the presence of a judge and recorded in the court registers.