Istanbul: Typ. Of Ibrahim Muteferrika, 1729. Item #518
, 97 leaves (numbered in Eastern Arabic system). 20,5x14,5 cm. Black stamps on the first and the last leaves, short manuscript notes in Ottoman Turkish on leaves 1, 7 and 8. 19th century dark brown quarter sheep with black pebbled paper boards. Binding slightly rubbed on extremities, repaired on hinges, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition in Ottoman Turkish. This is the third of seventeen ‘Turkish incunabulas’, published in the fi rst year of the existence of the printing house by the legendary Basma Khane of Ibrahim Muteferrika (1674-1745) in Istanbul – the fi rst typography of moveable Arabic type under Islamic auspices. Opened by permission of Sultan Ahmet III in 1727, Basma Khane was the fi rst of its kind in the Islamic world, and published 17 titles in 22 volumes between 1729 and 1742, including geographies, histories, and dictionaries. Hungarian-born, Müteferrika was educated as a Calvinist minister and converted to Islam after being enslaved by the Ottomans between 1692-93. Well-educated and fluent in Latin, he often acted as an editor and translator of the books published in his typography.
Printed with a run of 1200 copies, ‘‘Târîh-i seyyâh der beyân-i zuhûr-i Afgânîyan…’’ became the third book published by Muteferrika. Written by Tadeusz Krusinsky, a Jesuit missionary who served as a secretary-interpreter to the bishop of Isfahan in 1707 - ca.1725, the book is one of the most important chronicles unfolding the history of the late Safavid Iran – one of the biggest rivals of the Ottoman Empire at the time, and the history of the Afghan Invasion of Iran and the fall of Isfahan in 1722 which the author witnessed. The Turkish translation was made from Krusinski’s ‘‘Relatio de mutationibus Regni Persorum’’ (Rome, 1727) – a highly popular book which was quickly published in English (1727), French (1728), Italian (1730), and German (1732).
The book is ‘‘a Turkish translation of the history of Iran written in Latin by the Jesuit missionary Jan Tadeusz Krusiński (1675-1751). The work, whose title can be translated as A voyager’s description on the apparition of the Afghans and on the reasons of the Safavid Empire being undermined, focuses on the Afghan invasion of 1722 which led to the fall of the Safavid dynasty, but also offers an overview on the historical processes of early 18th-century Safavid Iran. The publication of this work was made actual not only the vicinity of Iran to the Ottoman Empire, but also by the historical turn reorganizing the relations of power in the region and triggering the intervention of the Ottomans as well. This may have been the reason that among the first Turkish incunabula this was the work published in the highest number of copies. This publication also offers an early example of copyright disputes, as Krusiński considered the Turkish translation as his own work, while Müteferrika, who does not mention his name in the printed version, suggests himself to be the translator’’ (The mysterious printer Ibrahim Muteferrika and the beginnings of Turkish book printing/Library of Hungarian Academy of Sciences online).
‘‘The printing press is known to have existed in the Middle East amongst non-Muslims as early as the 16th century but it was not until 1729 that a Muslim, Ibrahim Müteferrika, began printing texts via this method. Müteferrika, based in Istanbul, secured a firman (edict) in 1727 from Sultan Ahmed III permitting him to print works of a non-religious nature. Müteferrika’s press, called the Dârü’t-tıbâ’ati’l-ma’mûre, but more widely known as the Basma Khāne (printing house), would print 23 texts on grammar, history and other non-religious subjects over the course of its history. In total, Müteferrika produced approximately 13,000 physical volumes. The Basma Khāne operated between 1729 and 1742 though its initial reception was greeted with trepidation. Calligraphers were the principal opposition to the printing press after the ferman had been issued. Calligraphy was seen as a pious and devotional act whereas the printing press, with its ability to mass produce texts, was regarded as a threat to the livelihood of many calligraphers. The Basma Khāne laid the foundations for the development of moveable printing presses in other Muslim countries, e.g., the Bulaq Press in Egypt. These presses, in response to a host of events and developments in the nineteenth century, allowed for the increased printing and dissemination of newspapers, journals, books and ephemera in the region’’ (McGill University Library).