Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

Mustafa 'ÂLi's Epic Deeds of Artists: A Critical Edition of the Earliest Ottoman Text about the Calligraphers and Painters of the Islamic World

Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

Mustafa 'ÂLi's Epic Deeds of Artists: A Critical Edition of the Earliest Ottoman Text about the Calligraphers and Painters of the Islamic World

Article excerpt

ESRA AKIN-KIVANÇ, EDS., trans., and comments, Mustafa 'Âli's Epic Deeds of Artists: A Critical Edition of the Earliest Ottoman Text About the Calligraphers and Painters of the Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 2011). Pp. 590. $195.00 cloth.

Mustafa 'Âli of Gallipoli is probably unique in being the only Ottoman literary figure who has attracted the sustained attention of modern scholars. Equally surprising is the consistently high quality of modern studies and editions, with Cornell Fleischer, Jan Schmidt and Douglas Brookes following the pioneering work of Andreas Tietze. Professor Akin-Kivanç was fortunate in, therefore, enjoying the privilege-quite rare in Ottoman studies-of having a series of excellent models and sources of reference to guide her work. At the same time, she also faced the challenge or producing a book of the same high standard as her predecessors.

It is a pleasure to record that she has succeeded magnificently in the task. Mustafa Âli's Menaqib-i Hünerveran could perhaps best be described as a biographical dictionary of Islamic calligraphers and painters, and other craftsmen concerned with the arts of the book, but with a very strong emphasis on the art of calligraphy. The work has been available (although not easily accessible) in printed form since the appearance of Ibnülemin Mahmud Kemal Inal's edition of 1926. Professor Akin-Kivanç, however, does much more than simply provide a usable text. She is the first to produce a proper critical edition (in transliteration), with a separate discussion of each manuscript, a stemma diagram showing the relationship between manuscripts, a full critical apparatus, and a facsimile of Istanbul University Library, ms T 9757`. For the modern reader, the insa prose of the text is-to say the least-difficult and, as the editor notes, even distasteful. She has overcome this difficulty by including a full English translation which provides a convenient way of finding references quickly or reading rapidly through the text. …

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