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Cotton, Textiles, and the Politics of Trade
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1. Al-Abbasi, Tarikh al Tuqan, pp. 83–86. For background, see Daniel Crecelius, The Roots of Modern Egypt: A Study of the Regimes of Ali Bey al-Kabir and Muhammad Bey Abu al-Dahab, 1760–1775 (Minneapolis, Minn., and Chicago, 1981). [BACK]

2. Ibrahim Danafi al-Samiri, Zahir al-Umar wa hukkam Jabal Nablus, A.H. 1185–1187/A.D. 1771–1773 (Zahir al-Umar and the Rulers of Jabal Nablus, A.H. 1185–1187/A.D. 1771–1773) (ed. Musa Abu Dayya; Nablus, 1986), p. 35. This manuscript is privately owned and was first published in NIMR, 1:390–399. Ibrahim Danafi al-Samiri was a member of the Danafi family of the Samaritan community, whose members often served as scribes or treasurers of the rulers of Nablus and its rich merchants, including Hajj Isma‘il Arafat, whom we met in Chapter 2. Ibrahim Danafi inherited this position from his grandfather, Marjan. [BACK]

3. The word used for clothes is atyab, slang for thiyab (sing. thawb). See Chapter 2. [BACK]

4. Al-Samiri, Zahir al-Umar, p. 35. [BACK]

5. There is no agreement on Zahir al-Umar’s exact date of birth. See Joudah, Revolt, p. 29, n. 2. [BACK]

6. These generalizations are based on two articles by Eliyahu Ashtor (“The Venetian Cotton Trade in Syria in the Later Middle Ages” and “The Venetian Supremacy in Levantine Trade: Monopoly or Pre-colonialism?”), which were reprinted in his Studies on the Levantine Trade in the Middle Ages (London, 1978), pp. 675–715 and 5–53, respectively. For historical context, see Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony, pp. 233–235. [BACK]

7. Cohen, Palestine, p. 11; Owen, The Middle East, pp. 83–84. [BACK]

8. Owen, Middle East, pp. 83–84. See also Charles Issawi, ed., The Economic History of the Middle East, 1800–1914 (Chicago, 1966; reprint, Chicago, 1975), pp. 31–33. [BACK]

9. For example, Elena Frangakis-Syrett, “The Trade of Cotton and Cloth in Izmir: From the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century to the Early Nineteenth Century,” in Keyder and Tabak, eds., Landholding, pp. 97–111; Fariba Zarinebaf-Shahr, “Tabriz under Ottoman Rule (1725–1730) (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1991), p. 178; and Frank Perlin, “Proto-Industrialization and Pre-Colonial South Asia,” Past and Present, 98 (1983), pp. 30–95. [BACK]

10. According to Cohen, an example for this strategy in northern Palestine was set by Paul Maashouk, who worked as consul for Britain and Holland in the port city of Acre (Palestine, p. 12). Cohen states that Maashouk was a Dutchman, but Bruce Masters persuasively argues that he was a local (Origins, p. 108, n. 78). [BACK]

11. For a sketch of Ibrahim al-Sabbagh’s economic and political role during his tenure as Zahir al-Umar’s right-hand man, see Joudah, Revolt, pp. 127–134; and Cohen, Palestine, p. 16. [BACK]

12. Cohen, Palestine, p. 16. [BACK]

13. Ibid., pp. 21–22. [BACK]

14. Quoted in Issawi, ed., Economic History, p. 33. [BACK]

15. For example, see C. A. Bayly, The Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830 (London and New York, 1989), pp. 46–63. [BACK]

16. See Owen, Cotton. [BACK]

17. See Thomas Philipp, “Social Structure and Political Power in Acre in the 18.h Century,” in Thomas Philipp, ed., The Syrian Land in the 18th and 19th Century (Stuttgart, 1992), pp. 91–108. [BACK]

18. A typical example is Shihab, Tarikh Ahmad basha Jazzar. [BACK]

19. His two key appointees, Abu Nabut and Mustafa Barbar, became virtually autonomous rulers. The former ruled Jaffa and Gaza for years, and the latter had free rein over Tripoli and its hinterland. As for Jabal Nablus, it was largely left alone, with Sulayman Pasha playing a patriarchal peace-keeping role. For details, see Awra, Tarikh, pp. 318–321, 377–381, 476–478. This book was written in 1853. See pages 34–73 for a description of the differences between Ahmad Pasha and Sulayman Pasha. [BACK]

20. Ibid., pp. 63, 326–328. [BACK]

21. Ibid., pp, 73, 105. [BACK]

22. Ibid., pp. 108–127, 144, 196–198, 431–433. [BACK]

23. Mishaqa, Muntakhabat, p. 38. This translation was taken from Mikhayil Mishaqa, Murder, Mayhem, Pillage, and Plunder: The History of the Lebanon in the 18th and 19th Centuries (trans. Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr.; Albany, N.Y., 1988), pp. 56–57. [BACK]

24. Awra, Tarikh, p. 165. Cotton was also appropriated from peasants through taxes-in-kind (ibid., p. 150). [BACK]

25. For North Africa, see two works by Julia Clancy-Smith: Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, c. 1800–1904) (Berkeley, Calif., 1994), chap. 5; and “The Maghrib and the Mediterranean World in the Nineteenth Century: Illicit Exchanges, Migrants, and Social Marginals,” in Kenneth J. Perkins and Michel Le Gall, eds., Volume in Honor of L. Carl Brown (Princeton, N.J., forthcoming). [BACK]

26. In 1849, for example, the governor of Jerusalem expressed his concern to the Nablus Advisory Council that cash crops were leaving the country illegally and hence were undermining local needs (NMSR, p. 14). For more details, see below. [BACK]

27. For example, in November 1832 Muhammad Ali informed his son Ibrahim Pasha, the commander of the Egyptian forces, that he had sent him 2,000 purses (kis, pl. akyas; each purse contained 500 piasters) of money and that he would send him the wages for the soldiers after he sold the cotton harvest (Asad Rustum, Al-Mahfuzat al-malakiyya al-misriyya (4 vols.; Beirut, 1940–1943; reprint, Beirut, 1986), 2:167. [BACK]

28. Ibid., 2:357. Muhammad Ali Pasha’s dismissal of the Palestinian cotton harvest as insignificant was probably the result of a (unfair but true) comparison with the huge amounts of cotton that Egypt produced, and of the fact that the largest Egyptian harvest ever had taken place just two years earlier. In addition, 1833 was preceded by the long siege of Acre, which must have certainly discouraged the cultivation of cotton, because many of the cotton-growing villages were adjacent to it. [BACK]

29. Still, these reasons should not have prevented Muhammad Ali Pasha from imposing a monopoly in any case. The most likely explanation, therefore, is that he wanted to allay the European powers’ concern that Greater Syria would be subjected to the same economic policies as Egypt, policies which they considered to be an obstacle to their access and control of the rural surplus. [BACK]

30. Cohen, Palestine, pp. 13, 260. The dominant position of Nablus cotton by the early nineteenth century (see below) was perhaps due to this expansion, for it seems that little if any cotton was grown in this region during the sixteenth century. An Ottoman cadastral survey which listed the types of crops grown in the villages of Palestine in 1596, for example, shows that most of the cotton-growing villages were in the Acre region and listed none for the Nablus region. Hütteroth and Abdulfattah painstakingly compiled this information (Historical Geography, pp. 111–220; and the results can be clearly seen in the attached map, entitled “Agricultural Production in the Southern Syrian Liwas 1005 H./1596 A.D.”). This information must be viewed with some caution, for this survey did not mention the soap industry in Nablus, even though it was vibrant at the time. In addition, we know from the same cadastral survey that Nablus was an important textile center (Cohen and Lewis, Population and Revenue, pp. 54–62). As Halil Iṅalcik reminded us, such centers were usually located in areas where cotton was cultivated on a significant scale (“When and How British Cotton Goods Invaded the Levant Markets,” in Iṡlamoğlu, ed., Ottoman Empire, p. 374). [BACK]

31. For Latakia, Bowring mentions only that all of its production was usually consumed locally (Commercial Statistics, p. 13). For Acre and Jaffa he writes that they produced “some quantities” of cotton, the implication being that the amounts were not significant (ibid., p. 14.). Bowring’s calculations are the most reliable source we have for the early nineteenth century, because they were based on detailed reports gathered during a long field trip to the region on behalf of the British government. [BACK]

32. Ibid., p. 13. Another observer, Julius Zwiedinek von Sudenhorst, was of the same opinion (Syrien und seine Bedeutung für den Welthandel [Vienna, 1873], p. 54). Nablus cotton found its way to many regional markets, large and small. Damascus was no doubt the largest market in the north, but even small market towns in Mount Lebanon bought their cotton supplies from Nablus. For example, John Burckhardt noted in 1810 that in Zahle, “cotton is brought from Belad Safad and Nablous” (Travels, p. 7). [BACK]

33. The Ottoman government, in turn, was pressured by European textile manufacturers, business associations, and government officials to encourage the production of cotton. The Manchester Cotton Association, for example, promoted exhibitions of commodities in Istanbul and Izmir and urged landowners to focus on growing cotton. See Susan Lee Yeager, “The Ottoman Empire on Exhibition: The Ottoman Empire at International Exhibitions 1851–1867, and the sergi-i umumi Osmani, 1863” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1981), pp. 120–122. [BACK]

34. NMSR, p. 89. Ten years later, in 1861, the Ottoman government made concerted efforts to encourage the planting of cotton all over its dominions in order to take advantage of the cotton famine caused by the civil war in the United States. For example, they called for annual cotton shows to be held in key cities, approved awards for outstanding cotton producers, and abolished taxes on imported cotton gins (Awad, Al-Idara al-uthmaniyya, p. 241). [BACK]

35. NMSR, p. 89. [BACK]

36. Ibid., pp. 108–114, 118–121, 124–125. [BACK]

37. Ibid., p. 109. For each wazna of ginned cotton not returned they received approximately 46 piasters (ibid., p. 119). [BACK]

38. Ibid., pp. 93, 108–114, 271, 306; NICR, 7:372. [BACK]

39. Interview with Kamal Abdulfattah, March 3, 1990. [BACK]

40. Cotton was usually ginned in shops owned by the same merchants. The estate of Hajj Badran, son of Hajj Muhammad Badran (d. 1799), for instance, shows that indebted peasants from the villages of Tanna, Maythalun, and Sir paid him in raw cotton and olive oil. His shop, meanwhile, contained ten cotton gins (NICR, 6:52). [BACK]

41. That year Nablus exported 7,500 bales of 100 uqqas each to the port of Marseilles, or approximately 3,750 qintars (Bowring, Commercial Statistics, p. 14). [BACK]

42. Ibid., pp. 9–10. [BACK]

43. Owen, Middle East, p. 79. [BACK]

44. In 1863, for example, the British Foreign Office reported that the Nablus region produced four times as much cotton as it had produced in previous years. For this and other details on the rise and fall of cotton production in Palestine, see Schölch, “European Penetration,” pp. 12–21. [BACK]

45. Owen, Middle East, p. 66. [BACK]

46. For example, statistics for the years 1856–1862, provided by the British Foreign Office, show that the average proportion of northern Palestine’s cultivated area devoted to cotton was only 6 percent, as compared with 40 percent for wheat, 14 percent for olives, 13 percent for sesame, and 9 percent for barley (Schölch, “European Penetration,” p. 61). [BACK]

47. Iṅalcik, “When and How,” pp. 375, 380; Owen, Middle East, pp. 84–85. [BACK]

48. For example, Nablus cotton was listed first among the goods traded in Nazareth’s famous weekly market in the late nineteenth century (W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book [London, 1894], pp. 442–443). [BACK]

49. For a summary of the context and importance of the 1838 treaty, see Owen, Middle East, pp. 90–91. [BACK]

50. Ibid., p. 88. For Beirut, see Charles Issawi, “British Trade and the Rise of Beirut, 1830–1860,” IJMES, 8 (1977), pp. 98–99. [BACK]

51. This success also increased competition from within, because anyone with access to capital sought a share in this profitable activity. [BACK]

52. For British traders, an important moment was the abolition of the Levant Company monopoly in 1825, which increased the numbers of British merchants doing business in the Ottoman Empire and assured them of more vigorous and effective backing by the British government (A. G. Wood, A History of the Levant Company [Oxford, 1935], pp. 180–202). A similar set of developments took place in France (V. J. Puryear, France and the Levant [Berkeley, Calif., and Los Angeles, 1941], pp. 10–14). [BACK]

53. NMSR, p. 258. [BACK]

54. Ibid., pp. 191, 286, 312. [BACK]

55. Ibid., p. 41. [BACK]

56. For a comparative perspective, see Eugene Rogan, “Money-Lending and Capital Flows from Nablus, Damascus and Jerusalem to the qada;bn of al-Salt in the Last Decades of Ottoman Rule,” in Philipp, ed., Syrian Land, pp. 239–260. [BACK]

57. NMSR, p. 39. Transportation costs were calculated and detailed in further correspondence (ibid., p. 219). [BACK]

58. Ibid., pp. 60, 258. [BACK]

59. Ibid., pp. 286, 312. [BACK]

60. Ibid., p. 43. [BACK]

61. Ibid., p. 124. [BACK]

62. Ibid., p. 192. [BACK]

63. Ibid., pp. 200–201. [BACK]

64. NMSR, p. 311. The Alami family has long held leading religious posts in the city of Jerusalem and has intermarried with the Nimr family in Nablus (NIMR, 1:91–92). [BACK]

65. Doumani, “Population Counts,” pp. 4–9. [BACK]

66. This was the concern of the Jerusalem Advisory Council in 1855, for example (Finn, Stirring Times, 2:407–408). [BACK]

67. NMSR, p. 242. [BACK]

68. Ibid., p. 3. [BACK]

69. NMSR, pp. 226–227. Khawaja is an honorific normally used to denote non-Muslim men of means, usually merchants. In Nablus, however, it was used to denote rich merchants, regardless of religion. Only in the mid-nineteenth century did its meaning narrow to non-Muslims. [BACK]

70. Not all of the zakhayir were sold off. Part of the wheat, barley, oil, and clarified butter was used to supply soldiers of the central government who were stationed in the Nablus region following the Egyptian invasion, as well as to the local militia (nafir am). See, for example, NMSR, pp. 57, 123, 143–144, 146–148, 178, 182, 216–217, 238, 241, 253, 268, 271–273, 276, 280–283, 288, 292–293, 297, 300. [BACK]

71. NMSR, p. 215. The specific ports are not mentioned, the implication being that there was demand from all of them (Beirut, Acre, and Jaffa). [BACK]

72. Ibid., pp. 215, 311–312. [BACK]

73. Another example is the case of Darwish Afandi from Damascus, who, in 1851, successfully bid on 81 kayla of lentils and 3,103 uqqas of cotton-in-the-boll (ibid., pp. 161–162; both dated December 3, 1851). [BACK]

74. Ibid., p. 38. [BACK]

75. Ibid., p. 44. [BACK]

76. NMSR, p. 56. The country the consul represented is not mentioned. In the absence of vowels, the transliteration of the consul’s name is uncertain. [BACK]

77. Schölch, Palestine in Transformation, pp. 13–17. [BACK]

78. Similar examples can be found in NMSR, pp. 143, 147. [BACK]

79. For example, auction bids recorded in ibid., pp. 8–9, 18–19, 25–26, 38, 40, 46–48, 57, 60, 67, 79, 82–84, 88, 98–99, 123, 131–132, 137–138, 142–144, 146–147, 158, 161–162, 164–165, 185–186, 191–192, 196, 200–201, 210, 215, 221–222, 248, 258, 277, 311–312, 318. [BACK]

80. Owen, Middle East, p. 90. [BACK]

81. Ihsan Nimr wrote that the first floor of most living quarters was reserved for the storage of looms and that both men and women worked together at home in the spinning and weaving of cotton or woolen thread. A husband and wife team working all day, according to Nimr, could make a piece (shaqqa) of cloth worth half a gold coin. The time period and actual worth of the gold coin are not specified (NIMR, 2:286). [BACK]

82. NICR, 9:117. [BACK]

83. For an overview, see Donald Quataert, “Ottoman Women, Households, and Textile Manufacturing, 1800–1914,” in Keddie and Baron, eds., Women in Middle Eastern History, pp. 161–176. [BACK]

84. Calculated from inheritance estate of a wool and cotton merchant who died a month later (NICR, 9:96). [BACK]

85. Cohen and Lewis, Population and Revenue, pp. 54–62. [BACK]

86. Schölch, “European Penetration,” p. 50. [BACK]

87. Shmuel Avitsur, “The Influence of Western Technology on the Economy of Palestine during the Nineteenth Century,” in Ma‘oz, ed., Studies, p. 485. [BACK]

88. Iṅalcik, “When and How,” pp. 374–383. [BACK]

89. Ibid., pp. 380–381. [BACK]

90. Owen, Middle East, p. 95. [BACK]

91. Avitsur, “Western Technology,” p. 486. [BACK]

92. NIMR, 4:205–207. See below for a discussion of bisht.Qilw are the ashes of the barilla plant, used in soap production (see Chapter 5 and Appendix 3 for details). [BACK]

93. Ibid., 4:213–214. [BACK]

94. Ibid., 4:217–220. [BACK]

95. Dominique Chevalier, “Un example de résistance technique de l’artisinat syrien aux XIXe et XXe siècles: Les tissus ikates d’Alep et de Damas,” Syria, 39:3–4 (1962). [BACK]

96. Owen, Middle East, pp. 93–95. [BACK]

97. Donald Quataert, “Ottoman Handicrafts and Industry in the Age of European Industrial Hegemony, 1800–1914,” Review, 11 (1988), pp. 169–178. See also his books: Social Disintegration and Popular Resistance in the Ottoman Empire, 1881–1908: Reactions to European Penetration (New York, 1983); and Ottoman Manufacturing in the Age of the Industrial Revolution (Cambridge, England, 1993). [BACK]

98. For example, the estate of Shaykh Abd al-Razzaq Arafat listed a number of women employed by him (NICR, 7:64). Shaykh Abd al-Razzaq Arafat and his brother Abdullah, for example, both invested heavily in the dyeing process (ibid. 6:198; 7:47). [BACK]

99. Owen, Middle East, pp. 88, 90–91. [BACK]

100. Gerber, “Modernization,” pp. 250–264. [BACK]

101. H. B. Tristram, The Land of Israel: Journal of Travels in Palestine, Undertaken with Special Reference to Its Physical Character (London, 1882), pp. 137–138. [BACK]

102. Nimr mentioned that balsam seeds (bizir al-balsam), brazilwood (baqam), pomegranate skin (qishr al-rumman), and tumeric (kurkum) were also locally produced (NIMR, 2:284). [BACK]

103. Rustum, Al-Mahfuzat, 1:164. [BACK]

104. NICR, 6:237, 364; 9:75. [BACK]

105. For example, ibid., 6:290; 9:70; 10:8. [BACK]

106. James Silk Buckingham, Travels among the Arab Tribes Inhabiting the Countries East of Syria and Palestine (London, 1825), pp. 2, 15, 34–35. [BACK]

107. NICR, 8:284. [BACK]

108. Ibid., 10:8. [BACK]

109. Interview with Awad Yusuf Abd al-Rahman Abu llaya (b. 1908), July 17, 1990. [BACK]

110. Interview with Hamid Abu Aysha (b. 1902), August, 10, 1990. [BACK]

111. Later on, this industry became concentrated in the Qaryun quarter. [BACK]

112. NICR, 6:59, 290; 9:20, 117. [BACK]

113. Vatter, “Journeymen,” pp. 75–90. [BACK]

114. Quataert, “Ottoman Handicrafts,” p. 177. For examples, see Quataert, “Ottoman Women.” [BACK]

115. NIMR, 2:332. Weaving and spinning can be considered as one of the four major sources of income for women, the other three being moneylending, inheritance, and the marriage dowry. [BACK]

116. For example, NICR, 6:251, 290; 9:20, 96. [BACK]

117. Ibid., 6:251. [BACK]

118. Ibid., 6:290. [BACK]

119. Judith Tucker, Women in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Cambridge, England, 1985), pp. 84–85. The absence of direct evidence is due to the fact that until the late 1850s, peasants in general were absent from the Islamic court records except in cases involving primarily moneylending and land. See Chapter 4 for details. [BACK]

120. NMSR, p. 37. [BACK]

121. Ibid. [BACK]

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Cotton, Textiles, and the Politics of Trade
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