Adet-i ağnam

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The adet-i ağnam (literally meaning "sheep number"[1]) was an annual tax on sheep and goats in the Ottoman Empire. Initially, the tax was known as resm-i ağnam; the name changed around 1550.[2][3]


The tax varied; some records show a charge of one akçe per head of livestock,[4] whilst other records show a charge of one akçe for every two[5] or three sheep.[6][7] In one case, the first hundred animals in a flock were tax-exempt.[8]

This tax could be a source of considerable revenue, even in areas where wheat and barley farming were dominant.[9] The adet-i ağnam could be subject to tax farming; magnates would pay a hefty downpayment to the treasury in return for the right to collect sheep-taxes from villages.[10] The Ottoman government used various means to encourage sheep-rearing, because it was a source of substantial revenue; it could also make a profit for vakufs, and other concessions might be granted to sheep-farmers.[11] In 1540, a survey carried out around the Diyarbakir and Maras areas found 8013 nomadic households with a combined flock of two million sheep – and a tax liability of one million akçes.[12]

Careful measures were taken to ensure appropriate taxation on butchers, too, who might buy sheep for slaughter in April (just before the tax was due) which would have reduced the sheep-farmers liability.[13]

Adet-i ağnam was one of the taxes that Yürük irregular troops were expected to pay, despite being exempted from other taxes when recruited.[14]


The tax was paid to the Ottoman treasury.[15] Because the tax went direct to the treasury, instead of local timar-holders, it is mentioned less often in tahrirs. Nonetheless, some tax records do show the annual revenue from adet-i ağnam in each district, and therefore show the number of sheep. For instance, in 1490, there were a total of 24509 sheep on Limnos – an average of 8.4 sheep per inhabitant.[16] Sometimes, the annual adet-i ağnam charge would be rolled up with other taxes into a single composite annual tax including cizye and ispence - plus the tax-collector's fee.[17]

There was a further tax on sheep, the ondalık, which was only levied in the province of Rumelia.[18]

Unlike various other Ottoman taxes, adet-i ağnam continued after the Tanzimat reforms – alongside cizye, and a new income tax.[19]


  1. ^ Dostal, Kraus (2005). Shattering tradition: custom, law and the individual in the Muslim Mediterranean. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-85043-634-8. 
  2. ^ Jennings, Ronald (1999). Studies on Ottoman social history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: women, zimmis and sharia courts in Kayseri, Cyprus and Trabzon. Isis Press. ISBN 978-975-428-132-3. 
  4. ^ "Certain Concepts Concerning Finance". 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-03. 
  5. ^ Orientální ústav. 54. 1986. 
  6. ^ Inventory of Ottoman Turkish documents about Waqf preserved in the Oriental Department at the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library: Registers. Narodna biblioteka "Sv. sv. Kiril i Metodiĭ. 2003. 
  7. ^ Alexander (1985). Toward a history of post-Byzantine Greece: the Ottoman kanunnames for the Greek lands, circa 1500-circa 1600. J.C. Alexander. p. 273. 
  8. ^ Sugar, Peter (1977). Southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, 1354-1804. University of Washington Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-295-96033-3. 
  9. ^ Jennings, Ronald (February 1978). "Sakaltutan Four Centuries Ago". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 9 (1). JSTOR 162627. 
  10. ^ "THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AYÂN FAMILY IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ANATOLIA: THE CANİKLİZÂDES (1737-1808)" (PDF). 2003-04-28. Retrieved 2011-04-03. 
  11. ^ Cvetkova, Bistra (1970). M. A. Cook, ed. Les celep et leur role dans la vie economique des Balkans a l'epoque ottomane (in French). Routledge. p. 173. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Journal of Turkish Studies. 1984. 
  13. ^ Cvetkova, Bistra (1970). M. A. Cook, ed. Les celep et leur role dans la vie economique des Balkans a l'epoque ottomane (in French). Routledge. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-19-713561-7. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Osmanlı araştırmaları. 20. 
  15. ^ McGowan, Bruce (2010). Economic Life in Ottoman Europe: Taxation, Trade and the Struggle for Land, 1600-1800. Cambridge University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-521-13536-8. 
  16. ^ Lowry, Heath (2002). Fifteenth century Ottoman realities: Christian peasant life on the Aegean Island of Limnos. Eren. ISBN 978-975-7622-89-5. 
  17. ^ Imber, Kiyotaki (2005). Frontiers of Ottoman studies: state, province, and the West. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-85043-631-7. 
  18. ^ Karpat, Kemal (2002). Studies on Ottoman social and political history: selected articles and essays. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-12101-0. 
  19. ^ Ondokuzuncu yuzyılda Mersin ve Akdeniz Dünyası. Mersin Üniversitesi. 2002. p. 62. ISBN 978-975-6900-10-9.