50 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS ;
The greatest simplicity is observed in the interior of these Turbes. There are no
gilded ornaments, no display of pomp or splendour which distinguished the tenant of the
tomb while alive. The walls within are generally covered with square slabs of porcelain
marked with poetical inscriptions. These are said to be the composition of a blind
Arabian poet, named Boordc, who, like Homer, wandered about reciting his rhapsodies,
and who has obtained as much celebrity in the East, as his Greek predecessor in the
West. The Achilles of his poem is Mahomet.
Each Turbe has six guardians, called Turbedar, and twelve aged men called Djuze
Khenana, or " reciters of the sacred page." Their duty is to repeat the whole Koran
every morning, for the repose of the souls of the departed. Each undertakes a certain number of pages, or Djuzy, till the whole is gone through. Among the acts of
piety which a Sultan sometimes imposed upon himself, was transcribing the Koran with
his own hands. These pious MSS. are always deposited in the Turbe of the transcriber.
They are all marked with the name of the person, and form a singular and interesting
series of Imperial autographs. When a stranger is admitted to see the interior of a
Turbe, the Turbedar never fails to show their manuscripts, to which they attach a
solemn interest, particularly to that of Mahomed IL, who, in the midst of excited passions,
turbulent events, and ferocious cruelties, calmly sat down to write out the precepts of
his religion ; and it appears did so with a tranquil mind and steady hand, as his autograph
at this day testifies. Besides these Imperial Korans, a number of copies are kept, which
the Turbedars present to every person who enters, that he may join with the reciters
in their pious labours.
These Imperial sepulchres are much frequented by the Turks for various reasons.
Some resort thither from affection to their ancient masters, particularly officers of the
Seraglio. Others are drawn by feelings of general devotion to the sacred dead, whom
they consider as Kalifs, or lineal descendants of the Prophet, and as such invested with
an hereditary sanctity. But the tombs most frequented are those of Bajazet II. Mahomed II.
and Selim I. Every day these visits are paid by some, but it is during the season of the
fast of the Ramazan, and the seven holy nights, that they are crowded. The officers of
the Seraglio, either from inclination or command, perform this duty of respect to the
deceased Sultan for forty successive days after his death. The example is set by the
reigning Sultan, who thinks this a task of indispensable obligation to his predecessor,
whom perhaps he had ordered to be strangled or poisoned; and, as if to atone for his
offence, gives liberally to the guardian, and distributes alms in every direction. Alms
is the indispensable duty of every Moslem; the Koran says that "prayer conducts halfway to heaven—fasting brings to the gate—but alms alone procure entrance." When
no such occasion calls for this bounty, it is demanded by other causes. If any unfortunate event has occurred to himself—if any public calamity assails or threatens the state—
or if any important enterprise is to be undertaken, destiny is propitiated in this
In the city of Constantinople there are eighteen Imperial Turbes, where the
monarchs repose who died after this city had been made the capital of the Turkish