Mirrors for Princes & Historiography

Philip Bockholt

Philip Bockholt is examining translations of advice literature, especially mirrors for princes and historiographies that were translated from Arabic and Persian into Ottoman Turkish. Both genres were important to the shaping of the Ottoman Empire. Among the mirrors for princes, the Anatolian-Turkish versions of the widespread anonymous fable Kalīla wa-Dimna, ʿAlī Çelebi’s Hümāyūnnāme from the 16th century in particular, and translations of the Qābūsnāma (an 11th-century text originally from Northeast Iran) are the focus of his analysis. Both works are available in several textual witnesses and translations, whose time span ranges from the 14th to the 18th century and includes Anatolian princely courts, such as those of the Aydınids and Germiyanids, in addition to the Ottoman court. Including these texts enables the actor-centred study of diachronic tendencies in the adaptation of norms of didactic literature.

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Sacha Alsancakli

The project focuses on Ottoman translations of Persian manuals of arts and crafts. Related to an encyclopaedic interest in the natural world and its phenomena, these manuals are brief, practically-oriented texts that explore such diverse activities as papermaking, soapmaking, swordmaking, gemology, blacksmithery, and many more. Sometimes devoted to a single one of these crafts, they also exist as compendiums and were circulated in different environments from artisans’ guilds to local courts and religious brotherhoods. Through the examination of such little-studied texts, this project will open new venues of research in the cultural history of the early modern Islamic world.

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Biography and Hagiography

Hicham Bouhadi

This project examines translations of biographical dictionaries and hagiographies from Arabic into Ottoman Turkish during the early modern Ottoman Empire (approximately 1400 to 1750). This period witnessed various political, religious, and intellectual transformations in the Ottoman identity, leading to the emergence of a noteworthy translational activity. Given the importance of biographical and hagiographical writing in Islamic intellectual history, numerous works from both genres were translated into Turkish and presented to Ottoman audiences. These translations played a pivotal role in shaping Eastern Mediterranean intellectual history and found a diverse readership across various regional and socio-cultural networks.

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Muhammed Sofu

This research project investigates translations of works related to the religious science of hadith, i.e., relating the Prophet’s deeds, sayings, and approvals, in addition to providing information on his biography, physical features, and personality characteristics. The project explores the role hadith translations had as a means of disseminating religious knowledge and what contribution they made to the emergence of religious belief and confessional thought in the Ottoman Empire. As hadith was, and still is, generally considered the second source for Islamic jurisprudence after the Qur’an, hadith translations are of particular importance in this context.

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Associated research projects


Mystical Advice Literature

Tobias Sick

Tobias Sick’s research within this project focuses on the processes of Persian-Arabic-Turkish translation and adaptation that took place in different parts, including various border regions, of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to the 18th century, specifically, in relation to works of Islamic mysticism. The focus is on the socio-cultural location of translation and transmission processes – i.e. the circumstances of selection, imitation and adaptation, as well as the reception of texts – within the framework of an investigation of the history of transmission based on manuscript materials and current approaches of material philology as well as translation studies.

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Qurʾānic Exegesis (tafsīr)

Ahmet Aytep

Ahmet Aytep’s research in this project focuses on Arabic-Ottoman translations of works of Qurʾānic exegesis (tafsīr). As one of the most significant religious genres in Islamic culture, Arabic and Persian tafsīr works were translated into Ottoman Turkish several times and circulated widely in the Islamic lands. Therefore, this research project aims to determine how tafsīr translations operated as a vehicle of vernacularisation within the transfer of religious knowledge and their role in the formation and consolidation of the Ottoman mentality and identity. 

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