No. 313.
Mr. Schuyler to Mr. Campbell.

No. 13.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose you an interesting and valuable paper on the productions and trade of the district of Philippopolis, prepared, at my request, by Mr. John E. Gueshoff, of Philippopolis.

I have, &c.,


Notes on the production and trade of the district of Philippopolis.

The cattle-rearing Balkan on the north, and the vine-clad, timber-producing Rhodope on the southeast; a fertile arable plain stretching between them, and the river Maritza bathing this plain—such are the natural features which condition the production and exchange of wealth in the district of Philippopolis. This district, with its 950 towns and villages, and 600,000 inhabitants, was justly considered, before the terrible devastation [Page 587] recently wrought in it, as one of the most prosperous Turkish provinces. It may be interesting, therefore, to inquire in what did this relative prosperity consist, and also how far nature’s bounty and man’s industry in this district are favored or impeded by the political system and administrative traditions under which they are placed.

i.—food-products and raw materials.

It would be trite to remark that agriculture, the staple industry of Turkey, is still in its infancy. What is more useful to be noticed is that no progress in this direction is possible, so long as the institutions and the social habits now paramount in Turkey continue to exist. An Austrian traveler, Baron Berg, has recently recorded his astonishment at the difference he witnessed in the Turkish empire, between the right and left banks of the Danube. While vassal Roumania has adopted almost all the modern agricultural implements, Suzerain Turkey still clings to methods immortalized in the Georgies. The greater number of large estates in Roumania may to a certain extent explain her advance in this respect; but their comparative rarity in Turkey is not the only reason of the backwardness of Turkish agriculture. The unjust assessment of taxes, and the still more extortionate methods of collecting them; the system of farming the tithes, with the consequent delays in gathering in the crops; the ridiculous parceling of land enforced by the law on the tapou, (title-deeds;) the insecurity of life-and property which deters educated people from applying themselves to agricultural pursuits on a large scale; all these causes co-operate to keep the agricultural industry of Turkey in that primitive condition from which it will never emerge so long as Turkish administration proceeds on the principle of periodically slaying the hen that lays her the golden eggs. In other countries, despotic governments ruling over primitive peoples have deemed it their justification and their duty to initiate themselves an instruction and a series of institutions which might favor the advance of agriculture; in Turkey not only is there no help from the government, but private initiative, instead of being encouraged, meets with obstacles which, in many cases, are well-nigh insurmountable. The difficulties raised by custom-house officials on the importation of agricultural instruments, have deterred many an advanced agriculturist from those scientific processes which have done so much for the progress of agriculture in other countries; two or three young Bulgarians from the district of Philippopolis, who have finished their agricultural education in Germany, have not only found no encouragement from the government, but have even been persecuted in connection with the recent events; while an agricultural society formed at Peroushtitza with the object of establishing, as soon as the required capital was found, a school for theoretical and practical instruction in agriculture, has shared the fortunes of the ill-fated town where it had originated.

What has been said of agriculture may with equal justice be applied to cattle-breeding and silk-worm rearing. As regards the mining industry, though considerable mineral wealth exists in some mountainons parts of the province, the law on the working of mines has operated so well that not a single mine exists in the district of Philippopolis.

What this district is capable of producing under more favorable conditions may be gathered from its present production of food-produce and raw materials. The following figures have no pretensions to accuracy, as no official statistical returns on these matters exist in Turkey, and the few that exist on the population, &c., are made to mislead rather than instruct. Under these circumstances it is impossible to get anything like exact figures; those that appear below, founded on private inquiries, are only approximative, and are given merely with the object of showing the relative importance of the various articles of produce in the district of Phillippopolis.

Cereals and grains.—In a year of good average crop, after deduction of the seed and the quantity necessary for local consumption, the surplus available for exportation may be estimated at—

  • 100 to 125,000 quarters of hard wheat, (blés dures.)
  • 275 to 300,000 quarters of soft wheat, (blés tendres.)
  • 125 to 150,000 quarters of Indian corn.
  • 70 to 80,000 quarters of rye.
  • 20 to 30,000 quarters of barley.
  • 10 to 15,000 quarters of oats.
  • 30 to 40,000 quarters of French beans, millet, sesame, linseed, &c.

The total value of all these grains may be put down at 800,000 pounds Turkish, (11 Turkish pounds equal 10 pounds sterling.)

Aniseed.—The average annual quantity exported is estimated at 1,000 tons, of the value of 20,000 pounds Turkish.

Rice.—The annual production may be computed at 6,000 to 7,000 tons, representing a value of 100,000 pounds Turkish, one-third of which is consumed in the Vilaet of Adrianople, and the rest is exported. The tithe of the rice is sent in kind to Constantinople for the use of the troops.

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Lamb-skins and kid-skins, salted.—The quantity annually exported is estimated at 200,000 lamb-skins and 50,000 kid-skins, valued at 50,000 pounds Turkish.

Cocoons.—Previously to the disease of the silk-worms, the annual production was superior to 25,000 okes. At present it is not more than 40,000 to 60,000 okes, (an oke, 2¾ pounds avoirdupois,) of the value of 6,000 pounds Turkish. The two principal centers of production are the towns of Stanimaka and Peroushtitza. The dried cocoons are exported for Franco, while the rejects are spun out and the silk obtained is sold for local consumption.

Wool.—The annual production must be superior to 100,000 okes, but only one-tenth of it, which may be valued at 10,000 pounds Turkish, is exported, the rest being used for the manufacture of abbas, shayaks, and ghaïtan.

Tobacco.—The quantity annually exported may be calculated at 750,000 okes, but as the quality is low its value is not superior to 40,000 pounds Turkish.

Cow, ox, and buffalo hides.—The surplus over the local needs available for export may be computed at 15,000 hides, representing a value 15,000 pounds Turkish.

Cattle.—The annual export for Constantinople is estimated at 100,000 to 120,000, and 6,000 to 8,000 cows and oxen, of the aggregate value of 70,000 pounds Turkish. The number of sheep given is exclusive of the 400,000 sheep which are annually brought down from the Vilaet of Sophia and driven through the district of Philippopolis for Constantinople.

Buffalo-horns, bones, rags, &c.—Value of annual export 5,000 pounds Turkish.

ii.—industrial products.

Sadder still than the state of agriculture in the district of Philippopolis is the condition of industry. Forty years ago the manufacture of the coarse woolen cloths called abbas, and of the woolen braid called ghaïtan, as well as the production of readymade clothes, had attained an importance which marked out this district as one of the most industrial provinces of European Turkey. Since the Crimean war, however, the spurious refinement which has produced the change in costume, and the light duties levied by the Turkish fisc on foreign goods—a policy by which Turkey has sought to win the support of the western European powers—have gradually diminished the production of these staple articles. If no measures are taken betimes for the protection and encouragement of native industry, the observer who attentively follows its declining fortunes in this part of the country can foresee a not very distant time when it will virtually be reduced to nil.

The little industury that remains is almost equally divided between the inhabitants of the two mountain ranges that encircle the district of Philippopolis. While the Balkan almost completely monopolizes the production of otto of roses, shayaks, woolen socks, and ghaïtan, the Rhodope produces the no less important articles of the abbas, timber, wine, rakee, &c. The value of the products of the last mountain is superior to that of the Balkan products; but then the Balkan possesses the only two progressive branches of industry, the production of otto of roses and the manufacture of shayaks.

Otto of roses.—Luxurious Babylon is the first people mentioned by history as having practiced, by a process unknown to Greeks or Romans, the extraction of the fragrant essence of the rose. Dear, down to the present day, is this essence to the southern Asiatic. The large quantity produced at Gazeepoor, on the Gauges, is entirely consumed in Asia. Persia produces rose-water, but no otto; as regards Egypt, its production is scarcely equal to the demand of its market. While, therefore, all the otto and rose-water produced in India, Persia, and Egypt are consumed in the East, the large quantity of otto required by the European and American perfumers is supplied by the district of Philippopolis. The whole of the hilly northern parts of this district, from Zaghra to Aorat-Alan, is studded with rose-fields, the greatest number of which are found around Kazanlyk. The impassable Moltke himself was fired with enthusiasm at the view of the Kazanlyk basin. In his Travels in Turkey he calls it “the Kashmeer of Europe, the Turkish Gullistan, the land of roses.”*

The beauty of this valley will be best understood from the fact that out of the 350,000 meticals (6 meticals = 1 ounce avoirdupois) which constitute the average annual yield of otto, and which represent a value of 60,000 pounds Turkish, more than half is produced by it. The area required for this production may be imagined when it is known that 3,200 ounces of rose-petals produce 10 ounces of otto.

The variety of rose cultivated for this purpose (Rosa damascena, sempervirens, and moschata) thrives best on sandy, sunny ridges. The planting of the rose-trees takes place in the spring or autumn, and the crop is ready in May or beginning of June. As a rule, every peasant in the otto-producing district is more or less of a rose-cultivator, and he is generally distiller too, unless he chooses to sell his roses to the large producers [Page 589] at the price of 30 to 60 paras per oke, (½d. to 1d. per pound.) The distilling has to go through two processes: first, the rose-petals with pure fountain-water are put into the retort and distilled; then the liquid thus obtained is mixed with the petals which have undergone the first distillation; the mixture is distilled in a water-bath, and pure rose-water is obtained. This rose-water is collected in medium-sized glass bottles and allowed to cool down. During the cooling process the otto contained in the rose-water, being of a lighter specific gravity, rises to the necks of the bottles, from where it is taken out by means of a funnel-shaped spoon and poured into small flagons. The quality of otto thus obtained depends entirely upon the soil on which the roses were grown, and on the weather they had experienced. Moderately dry and sunny weather is generally most favorable for the quality of the otto, which if obtained in hilly parts of the district is much stronger than if produced in the plain.

Good qualities, however, are seldom sent pure into the western markets. Exporters complain that the perfumers in the west never pay the price of the best quality if it is offered to them unmixed. For this reason superior qualities are generally mixed with inferior, while both are often adulterated with the admixture of oil of geranium. The morality of the exporter is the only guarantee for the purity of the otto. The best-known exporters are Messrs. Pappazoglu Brothers, (a Bulgarian firm who are both distillers and exporters, and who among other distinctions have recently obtained a medal of the Philadelphia Exhibition,) Thmsen & Co., Holstein & Co., C. Christoffet, E. Collas, and two or three minor Bulgarian firms.

In consequence of the exceptional circumstances of this year, and of the destruction of three or four places, (Klissoura, Novo Sels, &c.,) which were among the largest producers of otto, this year’s yield will not be more than half the average. The present prices of the producers range from 16 to 20 piasters per metical, (15s. to 19s. per ounce.)

Shayaks.—The production of shayaks (woolen cloth) is a household industry of many a Bulgarian village at the foot of the Balkan, more especially of Kalofer, Sopot, Carlovo, and Aoratalan. Both the spinning and weaving are done by hand. As the so-called European costume is finding more and more favor everyday with the men of Turkey, and the shayaks are worn by all classes who adopt that costume, it may be said that their manufacture, after the production of the otto, is the only promising branch of industry in the district of Philippopolis. As yet, however, the value of shayaks exported every year for various parts of European Turkey cannot be estimated at more than 20,000 pounds Turkish.

Ghaïtan, (woolen braid.)—This industry occupies a good many hands at Calofer, Carlovo, and Sopot. The spinning of the yarn is done by hand, while the manufacture of the braid itself is carried on by means of a sort of primitive machinery, to the working of which the rapid streams of the above-mentioned places are very favorable. As this braid is used for garnishing old-fashioned Turkish and other eastern costumes, its manufacture is declining. The value of the annual production, of late years, may be estimated at from 60,000 to 70,000 pounds Turkish.

The manufacture of woolen socks, another domestic industry of Aoratalan and some other places, produces an annual exportable value of some 8,000 pounds Turkish.

Abbas, (coarse woolen cloths.)—Just as the manufacture of shayaks and woolen socks constitutes the household industry of the Balkan villages, so the production of abbas forms the domestic occupation of the Rhodope mountaineers. The spinning and weaving are done by the women, especially in the winter months. The cloths when ready are sold by the men to the merchants of Philippopolis, who either export them or furnish them to the government for the use of the troops. The annual production is estimated at 100,000 pieces, (of 14 yards each,) three-fourths of which are exported in pieces and the rest in ready-made clothes, which are manufactured in the town of Philippopolis. The value of all the abbas exported may be computed at 80,000 pounds Turkish.

Timber.—The annual production of deal boards and beams at Bellova, Batak, Pestera, Kritchin, &c., is generally estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 cubic metres, whose value may be put down at 100,000 pounds Turkish. All this timber used formerly to be transported by rafts down the river Maritza to Adrianople and Enos, from where it was shipped for Greece and Smyrna. From this latter port a considerable quantity of thin boards called bitchmes is also exported for the manufacture of the deal boxes in which the raisins and figs are exported. The total destruction of Batak will diminish this year the production of timber to a considerable extent. There is, however, another and far more serious danger threatening the future of the timber industry, and that is the indiscriminate cutting down of the woods. The unwise concession to Baron Hirsch of the Bellova forests will not tend to diminish this danger.

Wine and rakee.—The principal wine-growing centers in the district of Philippopoli are Stanimaka, Peroushtitza, and Vetreu. The wine they produce suffers very much from the primitive method used in its manufacture. As it remains exposed to the air during the fermentation it is very liable to deteriorate, and for this reason, not being able to bear a sea-voyage, it is consumed exclusively in the interior of European Turkey, especially in the villaët of Sophia. The spirituous liquor called rakee (or mastich) [Page 590] is obtained by distillation from the skins of grapes after the last pressing. To the liquid thus obtained anise-seed and mastic are added, and a second distillation takes place, when pure rakee passes over. Of late they have begun to manufacture rakee from Russian and Austrian spirits, which being mixed with the necessary quantity of anise-seed and mastic are distilled and yield a liquor which is inferior to the genuine rakee, but still good enough for vulgar tipplers. The average annual export of wine is estimated at 2,000,000 gallons, and rakee at 700,000, representing an aggregate value of 100,000 pounds Turkish.

Tanned goat-skins (sahtians) and sheep-skins, (meshins.)—This industry, formerly one of the most flourishing in this part of the country, may be said to be equally distributed over the whole district—Hasskeny, Thirpan, Zaghra, Otlouk-Keny, Pazardjik, Peshtera; &c. It is now rapidly declining, as the Vienna market, the only customer, is supplied from other sources. The annual export is valued now at 20,000 pounds Turkish.

iii.—exports and imports.

The following table, showing the nature of the trade carried on by the district of Philippopoli with different states of Europe and America, is arranged according to the importance of the exchanges. Any attempt at giving the value of these exchanges would be futile. The total value of the imports may be roughly estimated at 500,000 pounds Turkish. As regards the exports, their value, as seen above, will be triple that amount. Out of the balance of 100,000 pounds Turkish the district of Philippopoli pays some 500,000 pounds Turkish for taxes, (exclusive of the tithes, which are paid in kind,) while a good part of the remainder goes to satisfy the rapacity of tithe-collectors, officials, zapties, &c. It may be right to remark, in connection with the imports, that the greater part of them are not effected direct from the respective states, but take place through Constantinople. Half of the total of imported goods for the district of Philippopolis is sold at the great fair of Ouzonndjova, which is held every year, in the last week in September. As regards the transport of the goods, it is now completely monopolized, except for live stock, by the railway, especially the Pazardjik-Dedeàghatz line. The once flourishing industries of raft transport by the river Maritza down to Enos (for exports) and of wagon transport to Rodosto (for exports and imports) are now entirely things of the past.

the district of philippopolis.

Imports from France.—Sugar, coffee, stearick, candles, leather, colored skins of Paris, glass panes, drysaltery, drugs, fashionable articles, drinks, perfumes.

England.—Cotton yarn, cotton goods, Bradford woolen goods, earthenware, sugar, copper, tin, steel, indigo, cochineal, carpets.

Austria.—Fez, (Turkish caps,) woolen stuffs, cheap ornaments, glass, paper, matches, arms, spirits, drugs, indigo, artificial wax, ready-made clothes.

European and Asiatic Turkey.—Cotton and silk stuffs, (Damascus,) woolen socks, (Drama,) ropes, (Vrania,) sacks and carpets, (Giorgiul,) woolen covers, (Bosnia,) colored wool, (Sophia,) soap, (Crete,) strings, (Trebizonde,) carpets, (Pirot,) olive oil, (Crete and Metelene,) towels, (Broussa,) iron, (Samakoro,) cutlery and wood vessels, (Gabrovo,) socks, (Rodosto,) raisins and figs, (Smyrna,) salt, (Asia Minor,) salted fish, (coasts of Roumelia and Asia Minor.)

Germany.—Woolen cloths, hardware, cutlery, Nuremberg goods, furs.

Switzerland.—Cotton stuffs, (printaniers,) yasmas, (head handkerchief,) handkerchiefs, watches.

Greece.—Cotton yarn, leather.

America.—Petroleum, coffee, (Rio,) dyeing-wood.

Italy.—Glass beads, white lead.

Russia.—Caviare, locks, spirits.

Servia and Roumania.—Rock-salt, (from Roumania.)

exports to the same states, viz:

France.—Wheat, (hard and soft,) oats, lamb and kid skins, cocoons, otto of roses, anise-seed, bones, horns, rags.

England.—Indian corn, barley, otto of roses.

Austria.—Rye, tanned sheep and goat skins.

European and Asiatic Turkey.—Anise-seed, (Bulgaria,) rice, (Bulgaria and Macedonia,) tobacco, (Constantinople,) sheep and cattle, (Constantinople,) abbas, (Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt,) shayaks, (Constantinople,) wine and rakee, (vilaët of Sophia,) tember, (Adrianople and Smyrna,) ghaïtan, (Constantinople, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albinia, and Asia Minor,) woolen socks, (Constantinople.)

Germany.—Rye, lamb-skins, otto of roses, tobacco.

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Greece.—Wheat, (hard,) ox and buffalo hides, timber.

America.—Otto of roses.

Italy.—Wheat, (hard.)

Russia.—Tobacco, ghaïtan, (for the Crimean-Tartar population.)

Servia and Boumania.—Anise-seed, abbas, tanned sheep-skins, (Roumania,) ghaïtan, (Servia.)

  1. Quoted by F. Kanitz in the Oesterreichische Monatschrift für den Orient for 15th May, 1875. Some of the above details are taken from Herr Kanitz’s essay.