In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the history of the lives and work of middle eastern artisans. Bread from the Lion’s Mouth: Artisans Struggling for a Livelihood in Ottoman Cities, soon to be published, uses archival documents to re-create a scene of life in the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth through twentieth centuries. Following, editor Suraiya Faroqhi discusses the history of this project and her interest in this region.
What drew you to the study of artisans in Ottoman cities? Why do you think there is a renewed interest in this field today?
Perhaps because I am fond of my own work, as a historian I have for a long time been interested in people that work – as opposed to those that pray, govern, or fight. Moreover I like to see the things that artisans/artists have made; and we must keep in mind that the beautiful things we admire in museums did not come into being ‘just like that’ but are the product of human work, especially that of artisans and artists.