Venetian Hosts and Ottoman Guests in the Venedik Sarayı in Constantinople (c. 1670-1681)
After the end of the Cretan war (1645-1669) and before the starting of the Morean war (1684-1699) Venetian diplomats settled again in Constantinople and in the Venetian Palace (Venedik Sarayı) that had been the embassy of the Republic for centuries. In this period baili and extraordinary ambassadors (ambasciatori straordinari) used to celebrate Venetian or Ottoman civic and religious festivals with dinners and parties. Their guests were above all other European diplomats and middle-ranking Ottoman officials. Some Turks, above all those who lived in the neighbourhood, contributed to the organisation of such events with their gifts and, in exchange, they received money or other presents. This paper aims to study the circulation of objects and commodities between Europe and the Ottoman Empire and, in particular, which kind of items were exchanged before or during official dinners held in the Venetian Palace or in the Venetian summer houses in Arnavutköy and Balta Liman. The Turks brought or sent mostly vegetables, flowers and different kind of food, while Venetians used to give to their guests not only the famous Venetian cloths but also unusual objects such as ivory boxes, gloves, brushes, glass sculptures, mirrors, fans, fake flowers and so on. The sources used for this research are the accounting books of the Venetian embassy for the years 1670-83.
Keywords: Gift exchange. Venice. Ottoman Empire. Material culture. Circulation of goods.Submitted: 16 Gennaio 2018