Hakan Karateke

Illuminating Ottoman Ceremonial

This presentation will explore the ways in which fireworks and other light-emitting media were used in Ottoman ceremonial. In particular, it will focus on wedding and circumcision ceremonies in the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries. These festivities, which in some cases lasted as long as forty days, communicated a message of dynastic continuity and fertility to their viewers and participants, and are described in a number of book-length descriptions known as surnames. The order of ceremonies, the objects and devices used, and the roles of participants were loaded with meaning and symbolism. The surnames describe the fireworks in some detail, providing important clues to the interpretation of this symbolism.

Hakan Karateke is Associate Professor of Ottoman and Turkish Culture, Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. He earned his doctorate degree in Ottoman and Turkish Studies from Bamberg University, Germany (1998), completed his habilitation in the same field at Vienna University, and taught at Harvard University (2002–08) before joining the University of Chicago. Professor Karateke published his dissertation on the nineteenth-century Ottoman court ceremonies in Turkish. An annotated edition of an Ottoman protocol register appeared in 2007.