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Leyla Saz

Leyla Saz

First Muslim female writer to publish her memoirs.

"I don't pay attention to compliments nor to criticisms."

Date of Birth: 1850

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death: 06/12/1936 1936

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site: Edirnekapı Şehitliği, Istanbul

Topics

Gallery

Leyla Saz Leyla Saz Leyla Saz

Field of Activity

Writer of Memoirs

The memoirs of Leyla Saz, also known as Leyla Hanım, contain her observations as a lady-in-waiting to the daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid and Lady Verd-i Cinan, Münire Sultan, from 1853 and 1860 between the age of 4 and 11 at the Çırağan Palace. They also contain experiences during other period of her life.

The first chapter of this book which she entitled Harem ve Saray Adatı Kadimesi is dedicated to various topics concerning the social life at Çıragan Palace. The decoration of the palace, dance and music lessons, the education of the princes, various entertainments, dinners, weddings of the sultans, the month of Ramadan at the palace and other religious feasts, and the health system for people living at the palace are subjects presented in detail.

The second chapter contains information about female fashion and dress codes in the nineteenth century, where women went on excursions in Istanbul, wedding traditions and customs, relations between brides and mothers-in-law and also ethnological information regarding aphorisms about women.

Leyla Saz dedicated the last chapter of her memoirs to studying the social life and political events in Crete and the city of Prizren in Kosovo where she spent many years because of her father's and her husband's duties.

Leyla Saz published her memoir book Harem ve Saray Adatı Kadimesi first during the occupation years of İstanbul 1920-1921 under the name of Harem-i Humayun ve Sultan Sarayları (Imperial Harem and Palaces of Sultans) in Vakit Newspaper and in Paris in 1925 in French under the name of Le Harem et les Sultanes au XIX e siécle.

After her death the title of the book was changed again and published in 1974 as Haremin İçyüzü.

Most of the memoirs, compositions and poems of Leyla Saz were lost in a fire in her mansion in Bostancı, İstanbul. Her published memoirs are reconstructions of her work done after the fire

Leyla Saz, like her contemporary Şair Nigâr, is the first Muslim female memoir writer of the Ottoman Empire. The memoir writer and poet Şair Nigâr, allowed her memoirs to be published 50 years after her death. Leyla Saz published her memoirs during her own lifetime. Selections from the memoirs of Şair Nigâr, were published by her sons in 1959, 41 years after her death, under the name Hayatımın Hikayesi (Story of My Life).

Leyla Saz as Poet

Leyla Saz's poems first appeared 1887 in the periodical for women Mürüvvet.
Serpil Çakır, Osmanlı Kadın Hareketi, İstanbul 2011, ss. 66-67.

A volume of poems by Leyla Saz was published in the Arabic alphabet in 1928 with the title Solmuş Çiçekler (Faded Flowers) with a foreword by her friend poet Abdulhak Hamit. The same book was published later in 1996 by her son Yusuf Razi Bey in the Latin alphabet enriched with pictures of her and examples of her handwriting.

Composer Leyla Saz

Leyla Saz composed around 200 songs in various Makams. Some of her songs were lost during the fire at her mansion. Today we have about 52 of her songs. Most of the lyrics of her songs were written by herself. She also used poems from friends such as Süleyman Nazif, Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem Bey, Yaşar Sadi, Nabizade Nazım, Samih Rıfat, Arif Hikmet Bey and Şair Nigar Hanım.

Layla Saz took the surname "Saz" at the time of the Law of Family Names 1934. She explained why she chosed this familyname so: "I have never been withhout my musical instrument "saz" since I can remember."


The Publications of Leyla Saz

Şaire-i Elhan-Aşina Leyla Hanımefendi'nin Külliyat-ı Musikiyesi, Osmanlıca nota 1. cüz, Matbaa-i Amire, İstanbul, 1923.

Le Harem impérial et les sultanes au XIXe siècle, adaptés au français par son fils Youssouf Razi, préf. de Claude Farrère, Calman-Lévy, Paris, 1925.

Solmuş Çiçekler, İstanbul, 1928, new edition 1996, Peva Yayınları, İstanbul.

Leylâ Saz, Harem'in içyüzü, Düzenleyen Sadi Borak, İstanbul, Milliyet Yayınları, 1974. (Translated from French into Turkish)

The imperial harem of the sultans: daily life at the Çırağan Palace during the 19th century: memoirs of Leyla (Saz) Hanımefendi, İstanbul, 1994. (Translated from French into English)

Leylâ Saz, Solmuş Çiçekler, İstanbul, Peva Yayınları, 1996.

Anılar: 19. Yüzyılda Saray Haremi, İstanbul, Cumhuriyet Kitapları, 2000.

Youssouf Razi, Sophie Basch (ed.), Le harem impe´rial et les sultanes au XIXe sie`cle, Bruxelles, Editions Complexe, 2000.

The imperial harem of the sultans: daily life at the Çırağan Palace during the 19th century: memoirs of Leyla (Saz) Hanımefendi, İstanbul, Hil Yayın, 2001.

Jose J. de Olaňeta (ed.), El haren imperial y las sultanas en el siglo XIX : memorias de una dama de la corte otomana, Palma de Mallorca, 2003.

Leyla Saz the Writer

Leyla Saz was active on the writers' staff of Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete (Newspaper for Women) which which was the longest lived periodical with 612 issues between 1895-1908.
The Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete also introduced women writers poets like Şair Nigâr, and through its section Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete Kütüphanesi (Bookstore of the Newspaper for Women) printed and sold books by Şair Nigâr, Makbule Hanım, Fatma Aliye Hanım and Fatma Fahrünnisa.
(Serpil Çakır, Osmanlı Kadın Hareketi, Istanbul, 2011, 3rd ed., pp. 66-72.)

Leyla Saz and her Literary Salon

"The house of Leyla Saz was like a House of Arts. Writers, artists and musicians of the period would meet there every Thursday and discuss academic matters. At the end of each meeting there would be musical performances. Famous singers like Hafız Aşir Efendi, Hafız Osman Efendi would often come to the mansion. Leyla Hanım would sometimes play the piano, sometimes the harmonica, at these gatherings."
Nazmi Özalp, Türk Musikisi Tarihi, Ankara, 2000, p. 223.

Awards

Sultan Abdülhamid II (reigned 1876-1909) awarded Leyla Saz with the medal of Şefkat Nişanı given only to women.

Memberships

(No information available)

Education

Leyla Saz was privately educated.

Greek and French Teacher: Elizabet Kantaksaki

Teachers of Turkish Music: Medenî Aziz Efendi (composer, literary man, teacher for tambur, lute and piano), Asdik Ağa (Asadur Hamamcıyan, composer)

Teacher of Western Classical Music: Nikoğos Ağa (Nikogos Taşçıyan, composer and Tambur teacher)

Piano Teacher: Therese Roma (also teacher to the daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid, Münire Sultan)

Teachers of Literature: Giritli Kutbi Efendi, Giritli Fatinefendi-zade Sadık Efendi

Contributions to Society

Leyla Saz enabled and supported musicians throughout her life.

Family and Friends

  • Mother:Nefise Hanım
  • Father:İsmail Paşa (doctor, governor, Minister of Health)
  • Grandmother:Kibele Rododanaki
  • Grandfather:Tatar Küçük Abdurrahman Bey
  • Daughters:Feride Ayni, Nefise Nezihe Neyzi
  • Sons in Law:Mehmet Ali Ayni, Muzaffer Neyzi
  • Sons:Yusuf Razi Bel (engineer), Vedat Tek (architect)
  • Grandson:Ali Halim Neyzi
  • Great Grandchild:Leyla Neyzi (anthropologist)
  • Husband:Giritli Selim Sırrı Paşa (poet, caligrapher, politician)
  • Friends: Münire Hanım (daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid, reign 1839-1861), Münif Paşa (Minister of Education), Süleyman Nazif (writer), Ahmet Mithat (writer, journalist, publisher), Abdülhak Hamit Tarhan (poet, writer), Cenap Şehabettin (poet, writer), Faik Ali Ozansoy (poet, writer),Nigar Hanım (poet, writer of memoirs, composer), Mihrinnisa (poet), Fahriye Atif (poet),Fatma Aliye (writer, novelist, translater), Emine Seniye (writer, women's rights activist, sister of Fatma Aliye), Süleyman Nazif (poet, writer, politician), Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem (poet, writer), Yaşar Şadi (composer), Nabi-zade Nazım (poet, novelist, writer), Samih Rıfat (poet, linguist), Arif Hikmet Bey (poet, judge, 105th Ottoman Sheikh-ul İslam)

Commemorative Projects

CD's in Memory of Leyla Saz

Kadın Bestecilerimiz / Turkish Woman Composers, CD , Cemre Müzik, İstanbul, 1998.

Osmanlı Mozaiği: Kadın Bestekârlar 1 & 2 (Women Composers) , CD Sony Music, İstanbul, 2001.

Osmanlı Marşları/ The Ottoman Military Music, Kalan Müzik CD , İstanbul (tarihsiz).

Further Reading

Nesrin Tağızade-Karaca, "Cumhuriyet Öncesi Türk Kadınının Düşünce ve Sanat Birikiminde buluşan İki İsim", İnönü Üniversitesi Sanat ve Tasarım Dergisi, Özel Sayı, C.2, Malatya, 2011, pp.845-854.

Aylin Şengün Taşçı, "Modernleşme Sürecinde Öncü Bir Figür Olarak Bir Kadın Bestekar: Leyla Saz", aylinsengun.blogspot, 29.9. 2010,

Serkan Alkan İspirli, "Osmanlı Kadınının Şiiri", Turkish Studies International Periodical For the Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic, 2/4, 2007.

Nüket Esen, "Leyla Saz'la bir motor gezisi", Radikal Kitap, 22.7.2005.

Ali H. Neyzi, Lara Feneri: Çakıp Sönen Anılar, İş Kültür Yayınları, 3 kitap, 2003, 2004, 2005

Kathryn Woodart, "Music in the Imperial Harem and the life of Ottoman composer Leyla Saz" (1850-1936), IAWM Journal, 2004,

Nazmi Özalp, Türk Musikisi Tarihi, Ankara, 2000.

Nezih H. Neyzi, Kızıltoprak Stories, Istanbul, Peva Publications, 2000.

Turhan Taşan, Kadın Besteciler, İstanbul, 2000, ss.109 –112.

Börte Sagaster, "Memoirenliteratur türkischer Frauen im Umbruch vom Osmanischen Reich zur Türkischen Republik: Das Beispiel Leyla Saz", in: Dietrich Reetz und Heike Liebau (Hg.): Globale Prozesse und Akteure des Wandels: Quellen und Methoden ihrer Untersuchung. Ein Werkstattgespräch, Berlin, 1997 (Arbeitshefte Zentrum Moderner Orient Nr. 14), S. 119-128.

Cemal A. Kalyoncu, "Kızıltoprak'ta Bir Köşk ve Onun Renkli Sakini", chronicledergisi.com.

"Leyla Saz", eksd.org.tr.

Sources

Quoted Sources:
  • Serpil Çakır, Osmanlı Kadın Hareketi, İstanbul 2011.
  • Nazmi Özalp, Türk Musikisi Tarihi, Ankara, 2000, p. 223.
  • Turhan Taşan, Kadın Besteciler, İstanbul, 2000, pp.109 –112.
  • "Leyla Saz", Esendere Kültür Sanat Derneği internet sitesi, http://www.eksd.org.tr/bestecilerimiz/leyla_saz.php (access 7.4. 2012).
Sources of Visual Images

Translation into English: Çetin Alanya, Istanbul, Turkey
Editing: Susan Strane, Chilmark, Massachusetts, USA

©2012 Meral Akkent
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