(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program blog; the views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Sultan knows how to produce a spectacle

Visiting dignitaries were received by the Sultan once a month on the same day that all the imperial salaries were paid.  All the ministers and their staff showed up to get their paycheck; quite a parade.  As the guidebook stated, “This created an opportunity to reflect on the wealth and power of the institution.”  Also, it allowed everyone to see the pecking order of who was more valuable to the Sultan.  The European artists of the 1600s that were sent with the ambassadors were impressed with the spectacle of the receptions, creating some of the most famous paintings of the era.  Apparently, the European monarchs didn't have the panache of the Ottomans, which I'm sure was soon corrected.  All ceremonies are designed to provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value of the sponsoring  institution, whether religious or academic.

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