CİBALİ TOBACCO AND CIGARETTE FACTORY: SPACE OF THE LABOR

By Rezan Has Museum

Providing viewers with the opportunity to witness the final years of the Ottoman Empire and the industrial, economic, political, and socio-cultural history of the Turkish Republic, the collection reveals the place Cibali Tobacco Factory holds in the labor history of Turkey with a particular focus on female participation and contribution in the workforce

Banner (2017) by Işıl ÜnalRezan Has Museum

The factory was founded in 1884 in the name of ‘Regie’. One of the architects is Alexandre Vallaury. It was transferred to the Republic in 1925. Designed much like a city with workshops, a healthcare unit, a daycare, the factory was active until 1994. The building was rented to the Kadir Has Foundation in 2001. The machinery, objects, documents, and photographs used at the Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory were temporarily transferred to Rezan Has Museum in 2008.

Albina and the team (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

In 1884, the sole right to collect tobacco production taxes within the Ottoman lands and to establish tobacco factories was granted to the company known as Régie, co-founded by The Ottoman Bank, Credit Anstald and the Banker Bleichroeder after the economic bankruptcy of the Ottoman State. The same year, Cibali Tobacco Factory was founded and soon become one of the largest and most important factories within the Ottoman Empire with a production capacity of 12,000 kilograms of cigarettes per day.

Video Animation, 19" (2017) by Serkan BayraktaroğluRezan Has Museum

Régie administration period is recognized as an infamously exemplary period in which a massive order of exploitation was imposed upon the entire tobacco system from cultivation, production, purchase, and sale, to farmers and workers.
This is an animation of an illustration created by a factory worker that animates the entire production process of the tobacco.

General View 2, Ulaş Tosun, 2017, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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A view from the exhibition.
Cibali Tobacco Factory, Manager Desk and Office Equipments at the left.

Employee Punch Card Machine, Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme, Unknown, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Employee Punching Machine. Meyer.

The elimination of the Régie Administration and its monopoly over tobacco was completed in 1925. Throughout this period, “tömbeki” (Persion tobacco), “puro & sigarillos” (cigars and cigarillos), “pipo tütünü” (pipe tobacco), “enfiye” (snuff) and almost all brands of “sigara” (cigarette) production continued largely with locally produced tobacco.

Identity Card (1926) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Cibali Tobacco Factory Cigarette Machine Operator” Identity Card, 1926-1941

Tobacco Leaves (1900's) by Ulaş TosunRezan Has Museum

Leaves of different kind were mixed together to obtain a “blend” and these leaves would be shredded by hand (and later with machines). After the blends were ready, they would either be packed into packs of tobacco or were sent to be rolled as cigarettes.

Tobacco Softening § Humidification Machine, Ulaş Tosun, Beginning of the 20th century, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Tobacco Softening § Humidification Machine, beginning of 20th century.

Softening is the name given to the process of moistening tobacco leaves to touch, process, and transport tobacco leaves by hand after they are harvested.

Photograph of Cigarette Paper Manufacturing Machine (1896) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Before cigarette-rolling machines were invented, these devices would roll flat cigarette papers in spools to allow shredded tobacco to be filled inside. In the next process, the tobacco would be stuffed inside the rolled wrappers.

Shredding Machine (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Shredding Machine, 1940s. A shot from the production process.

Album of Personalized Cigarette Papers, Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme, Regie Period, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Types of Local Cigarettes Manufactured by Cibali Factory, Album of Personalized Cigarette Papers from the Régie Period.

Cigarettes manufactured on special order, including ones bearing the names of Turkish and foreign state administrators, as well as those of embassy members shed light upon the political history of Turkey and the world.

Cigarette box, Regie brand, Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme, 19th Century, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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"Regie"Brand. Cigarette boxes.

Seals (20th Century) by Fotoğraf: Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Various seals from the Factory from Regie and Republic era.

Stencil detail, Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme, 20th century, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Stencil print of 'Product of Turkey'

General View, Ulaş Tosun, 2017, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Exhibition. Cigar molds and Boxes in the foreground.

With the return of blenders sent to Europe for specialization, the first local cigar production began at the factory in 1933. From 1935 onwards, the cigar brands “Marmara”, “Florya”, “Moda”, Çankaya”, “Ege”, and “Toros,” and the cigarillo brand “Esmer” were produced at the factory. Case of 25 Ankara Cigars sold in a wooden box designed to preserve the humidity and flavor of the cigars were highly popular and much admired.

General View 3, Ulaş Tosun, 2017, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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Wooden Press-Mold Crates.

Dried tobacco would be placed in wooden crates as part of a certain order and pressed at certain intervals.

View from the Sea (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

There are several photo albums left from the factory helping us to understand better the daily life of the workers and the production process as well.

Sorting (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Cibali Tobacco Factory grew over time with more than two thousand employees, becoming the largest factory of both Istanbul and the district in which it was located. The factory also employed the largest number of female workers in a single workspace in the Ottoman production sector.

Tobacco Bales (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

From highest to lowest quality, the Factory processed a wide range of tobacco types from different regions of Anatolia. Every day, bales of tobacco to be processed would be delivered from the warehouse to the factory and sorted in leaves.

Clock in (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Leaves of different kind were mixed together to obtain a “blend” and these leaves would be shredded by hand (and later with machines). After the blends were ready, they would either be packed into packs of tobacco or were sent to be rolled as cigarettes. While men carried out the blending process, female employees handled packaging.

Blending (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Workers on blending band.

The demands on working hours and conditions, paid religious holidays, and equal rights were earned with the help of protests held to obtain these rights and the defiant stance of laborers. One worker rolled an average of 5 cigarettes per day, 300 an hour, and 3000 per day; in addition to the gruesome pace of work, many of the employees were already unhealthy due to malnutrition, poor living conditions, and poverty. Tobacco, upon which their livelihood depended, consumed their health as well.

Packaging Department (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Women workers packaging manually.

Manual Packaging (1940) by Esra Özdoğan-Selim SümeRezan Has Museum

Break Off, Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme, 1940, From the collection of: Rezan Has Museum
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The end of their shift involved some entertainment. The young girls would walk arm in arm in the hope of seeing the young men they were fond of, exchanging glances with them, and dreamt of talking to them for the fun of it. Men, on the other hand, would think about how to make a living, where to enjoy some merriment at night, and their beloveds, more than anything else. Humanly concerns and joy almost always prevailed.

Sokak: Kadınlar, genç kızlar, önlüklü erkekler, Cibali, Haliç (20th Century) by UnknownRezan Has Museum

Courtesy of the Istanbul Research Center. K112-6.

In short, the post 20th-century history of the region was written by the people who lived and worked at the factory, spread to other quarters of Istanbul after work, suffered poverty, demanded rights, laughed, and cried together. Therefore, both the Golden Horn and Cibali, which holds a unique place in it, are not merely industrial sites, but sites of labor and will thus keep this legacy alive forever.

Credits: Story

Cibali Tobacco Factory: The Space of Labor

Coordinator Zeynep Çulha

Project Team Mehmet Ayrancı, Günşıl Öncü

Consultant: Bülent Öztürk, Gülhan Balsoy

Restoration and Conservation Team:
Mehmet Ayrancı, Gürkan Çağan, Buğra Serdaroğlu, Bülent Öztürk, Gülbin Söğütlüoğlu, Cesur Yüksek, Fatih Şahin, Ahmet Yalçın, Sadık Aydın, Osman Aktunç, Uğur Yüksek, Yavuz Aksoy

Exhibition Design: PATTU, Işıl Ünal, Cem Kozar

Video Animation: Serkan Bayraktaroğlu

Photography: Esra Özdoğan-Selim Süme

Translation: Melis Şeyhun Çalışlar

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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