Osmanlıların Bağdat’taki Veli Topu: Ebu Hızzame

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Günay V.

Cihannüma: Tarih ve Coğrafya Araştırmaları Dergisi, vol.6, no.1, pp.79-121, 2020 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.30517/cihannuma.768761
  • Title of Journal : Cihannüma: Tarih ve Coğrafya Araştırmaları Dergisi
  • Page Numbers: pp.79-121


Historical Sacred Cannon of Ottomans in Baghdad: Abu Khizzama


The continued events that emerged in the early 17th century after Baghdad was taken under the rule of the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Suleiman, the Law-giver, in 1534, finally led to the city’ fall into hands of Safavids in 1624. The Ottoman Empire’s campaign and siege to take the city back were unsuccessful; and Sultan Murad IV, who had conquered Yerevan and Tabriz in 1635, re-added Baghdad to the Ottomans lands after a long period of siege in 1638.

Sultan Murad IV brought several artillery cannons with his powerful army to besiege the city on the edge of Tigris River, which was defended by the reinforced walls and fortifications. Some huge cannons actively used in the Baghdad siege were not brought back and left for protection and defense of the city. The huge guns in Baghdad were used in the World War I during the besiege of British Army garrison in the town of Kut Al-Amara. These historical cannons which joined the war again 278 years after their first operation in Baghdad.

One of the Ottoman cannons in Baghdad, belonging to the Sultan Murad era, was publicly called “Abu Khizzama”. Various beliefs and rituals were developed about this famous siege cannon, and its site was accepted as sanctuary.

This study, firstly presents a general assessments of the recapture of Baghdad, one of the most important strategic centers of the Middle East, by the Ottomans and then, discusses some information on the historical artillery gun of Baghdad, which survives today as the Ottoman legacy in these lands.

Key words: Ottoman Empire, Safavids, Iraq, Baghdad, Murad IV, Baghdad Campaign, Ottoman Artillery, Big Historical Cannon, Abu Khizzama



The well-working war machine of the Ottoman State with its full equipment is one of the factors behind the rise of Ottoman hegemonic power. Many scholars now agree that the Ottoman gunpowder technology and its usage on the battlefield gave a decisive advantage to the Ottoman State apparatus in its establishment in the Middle East, Asia Minor and the Balkans. Recent works on the military history suggest that a new kind of research on military developments should not be limited to libraries and archives. Since war industry as complex structure includes the organization of military campaigns, logistics, provisioning, replenishment, battle tactics-strategic and communications, it stands at the crossroads of different disciplines like military science, economics, engineering and metallurgy, making military history research a very lucrative and kaleidoscopic field. Moreover, anthropology, war literature and religion sociology which analyze the impact of military affairs on individuals and societies provide a significant contribution to the field. Like in other disciplines of social sciences, research in the field of military history thus requires interdisciplinary perspective and approach which certainly enrich our understanding of military technologies, war sociology and organizations. The conquest of a medieval Byzantine capital by gunpowder technology heralded the extensive use of cannons in Ottoman war machine. Ottomans establish one of the earliest examples of heavy state industry for artillery by institutionalizing the well-known Tophâne-i Âmire that not only produced all related items of cannons, but also transferred technology to the provincial cannon foundries. This center played a vital role in provisioning and replenishment of local industrial foundries while it supplied technical personnel to the provinces. The chaotic period in the late sixteenth century due to the long-lasting and multiform Austrian and Iranian campaigns continued with the rising deficiencies in administrative structure in the following years only ended with the harsh measures of Sultan IV’ reign. This new period is marked with the temporary Ottoman control over Revan/Erivan and the capture of Baghdad from Safavids. The city was conquered by Ottomans during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and fell into the hands of Safavids; it remained under the Safavid rule despite recurrent sieges of Ottoman viziers. Indeed, the conquest of these two cities points to the victory of Ottoman gunnery in fortress siege (kale cengi) and rejuvenated the gaza spirit by restoring the deteriorating Ottoman morale.

This study revolved around the story of one major Ottoman weapon. It first analyzes the importance of Ottoman conquest of Baghdad in the Middle Eastern history; and then scrutinizes the role of Ottoman gunnery in this conquest. It mainly focuses on the material culture and values attached to one Ottoman cannon used in this military campaign and survived today. Some Ottoman giant guns called as castle smashers were dispatched to this campaign and at least some of them survived for centuries. Several memoirs from Great War indicate that some of these giant guns utilized in the Ottoman conquest of Baghdad came to be used by Ottoman and British armies in the famous Mesopotamia campaign at the Kûtü’l-Amâre/Kut Al-Amara, which witnessed the use of old Ottoman cannons in the same lands almost after 278 years.

One of these guns called “Ebu Hızzâme (Abu Khizzama)” by the Baghdad population was cast in bronze in the reign of Sultan Murad IV, the second conqueror of the city. On the one hand, this 440 cm-long cannon with its physical nature and two inscriptions represents the technology and aesthetics of Ottoman gunnery. On the other hand, the Baghdad population had for a long period created local narratives and rituals about this weapon that produced a unique belief system around the historical Ottoman cannon. The narratives about the casting of Ebu Hızzâme is somehow affiliated with Genç Osman/Young Othman, one of the legendary figures with his own shrine, and Şeyh/Shieh Abdulkadir, the founder of Qadiriyya order. Although in Islamic world the term “veli” is usually associated with saints or holy persona, Ebu Hızzâme gained a similar status. It was considered to bring luck and good fortune with power and effect cures. Most of the rituals around this historical gun have been performed by children and women. For researcher, it is often difficult to examine the cases which combined historical realities, tales, legends, folk narratives and beliefs. Being cautious about the validity of historical materials, scholars based on the analysis of written sources sometimes neglect spiritual narratives, but at the same time one should also note that legendary stories should be treated with material evidence. That is why, one must bridge the cultural values in the past with current narratives on a specific historical account by combining written sources and legends. Only such a perspective would provide an opportunity to trace the complex roots of current cultural codes in historical events. Yet, such a perspective requires both an interdisciplinary method and multidimensional approaches. Being aware of the risk to enlarge the scope of the issue, this article aims to offer a contribution to the multidimensional and interdisciplinary studies on this topic.

Bağdat’ın Kanunî Sultan Süleyman tarafından 1534’te Osmanlı egemenliğine alınmasının ardından XVII. yüzyıl başlarında ortaya çıkan gelişmeler şehrin 1624’te Safevîlerin eline geçmesiyle sonuçlanmıştır. Osmanlı Devleti’nin şehri geri almak için yaptığı sefer ve kuşatmalar başarısız olmuş, 1635’te ilk doğu seferine çıkarak Revan ve Tebriz’i fethetmiş olan Sultan IV. Murad 1638’deki uzun süreli muhasaranın ardından Bağdat’ı yeniden Osmanlı topraklarına katmıştır. 

Sultan IV. Murad, berkitilmiş surlar ve istihkâmlarla savunulan Dicle nehrinin kenarındaki şehrin kuşatılması için güçlü ordusuyla birlikte çok miktarda kale döğen top getirmiştir. Bağdat kuşatmasında aktif olarak kullanılan büyük silahlardan bazıları geri götürülmeyerek muhafaza ve müdafaa için bırakılmıştır. Bağdat’taki Osmanlı topları I. Dünya Savaşı’nda Kûtü’l-Amâre harekâtı sırasında da kullanılmışlardır. Bunlar Bağdat önlerindeki faaliyetlerinden 278 yıl sonra tekrar savaşa katılmışlardır.

Sultan Murad devrine ait Bağdat’taki Osmanlı toplarından birisi halk arasında “Ebu Hızzâme” olarak adlandırılmıştır. Bu ünlü kuşatma topu hakkında çeşitli inanış ve pratikler geliştiği gibi kutsiyet atfedilerek velî mertebesinde olduğu kabul edilmiştir. 

Bu çalışmada, Ortadoğu’nun önemli stratejik merkezlerinden olan Bağdat’ın Osmanlılar tarafından yeniden alınmasına dair genel bir değerlendirme yapılarak Osmanlı’nın bu topraklardaki müşterek yadigârı olarak günümüze ulaşabilen Bağdat’ın tarihî topuna ilişkin bilgiler ele alınmıştır.