Mirrors for Princes & Historiography
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.
Biography and Hagiography
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.
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 the characteristics of his personality. 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, their translations are of particular importance in this context.