This paper aims to investigate the marketing and consumption of flowers as a commodity from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century in the Ottoman context, a non-Western context, and to identify the specificities and similarities to the wider regional context with which it interacts.
Through utilising secondary historical data a two-level analysis is conducted. The first level provides information on the institutional actors such as flower merchants, the state, the flower research institutes, market channels and popular culture and their practices. The second level of analysis concerns the flower consumer.
The paper shows that flower consumption and marketing in an early modern non-Western context was not totally divergent from its “Western” counterparts which share the same regional context, i.e. the Mediterranean. As part of the late Renaissance Mediterranean world, the flower cultivator as a leisure-time consumer is reminiscent of the “Renaissance man”, characterised as someone who consumes science, aesthetics and writing in his leisure time. However, Ottoman markets diverge from their counterparts through the formation of an institution, similar to a modern-day accreditation institution, which had an active role in generating standards, brands and norms for the flower market.
The paper is mainly focussed on Istanbul, the capital of the empire and a large city by contemporary standards. Generalisation to the Ottoman context would require further studies.
The paper is original because marketing and consumption in non-Western histories, such as the Ottoman context, have been a neglected area, mainly because of a tendency to locate progress and modernisation in early modern west.
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