Ward of the “Zülüflu” Guards

The Tressed Halberdiers (Zülüflü Baltacılar) Consisting both of servants used to provide general services to the palace and the Harem, and of soldiers forming a part of the sultan’s household troop, the halberdiers and axmen were a rather important part of the organization of the Inner Palace (Enderûn). It is believed that, during military campaigns, these soldiers would advance before the main body of the army in order to fell any trees that might hinder the army’s advance. The navy blue vests, called dolama, of the Tressed Halberdiers bore collars high enough to obstruct the wearer’s sight on both sides, preventing him from seeing his surroundings while working inside the Harem. The halberdiers were called “tressed” owing to the two side locks of hair hanging down from beneath their headdresses. The Tressed Halberdiers had several duties. Among them were the provision of firewood to the Harem, carrying the sultan’s throne to and from the Gate of Felicity whenever required and the guarding and maintaining the chambers of the Imperial Council. During battle, the Tressed Halberdiers would continuously recite the Qur’an under their regimental colours so as to ensure victory for the army. The Halberdiers’ Barracks is among the palace’s oldest buildings. They were accessed through a door located to the right of the Carriage Gate leading to the Harem apartments. Built around a courtyard in a style typical of traditional Turkish residential architecture, the barracks’ ceramic tiled walls and finely embellished woodwork are especially noteworthy. The barracks were first constructed in the 15th century and formed a single complex with its own bath and small mosque whose mihrab (or niche indicating the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) is adorned with coloured Iznik tiles. The barracks’ Pipe Room was used by the halberdiers for relaxation. The barracks were where the halberdiers would sleep, and had two storeys: novice halberdiers would sleep on the lower floor, veterans on the upper floor.