[P4895] Practices of Translation in the Ottoman and Safavid Empires

Created by Yusuf Unal
Tuesday, 11/21/17 1:00pm


This panel explores the translation practices in the early modern Ottoman and Safavid empires and analyzes the constellation of motivations behind the translations as well as their inner workings. Towards this end, the papers that make up this panel addresses a number of questions with regard to the nature, scope, context, and audience of the translations. Ambitious translation projects in the two empires represented collective and sustained efforts, rather than ephemeral and individual phenomena. They were more than simple linguistic tools or literary exercises. The papers in the panel locate the translations within the religious, political, and social context of each empire, as well as within the ideological and religio-political rivalry and exchanges between the two empires.
The first paper examines the eighteenth-century Turkish translation of one of the most prominent Persian chronicle of the Safavid Empire, Tarih-i 'Alamara-yi 'Abbasi by Iskandar Beg Munshi (d. 1634). Mehmed Nebih, who was a prominent member of Sultan Ahmed III's (r.1703-1730) translation committee, completed its Turkish translation during the period of ongoing Ottoman interest in Persian works during the decline of the Safavid empire. This paper explains how this chronicle written by a Shi'i author was translated and introduced to a Sunni audience. The second paper dovetails with the first in its interest and primary questions, as it examines the Turkish translation of another famous Safavid chronicle, Habib al-siyar by Ghiyas al-Din Khwandamir (d. 1535-6). Like the former chronicle, Habib al-siyar was rendered into Turkish by the members of Sultan Ahmed III's translation committee on the commission of Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha in the eighteenth century. The next paper focuses on Nev'i-zade 'Atayi (d.1635), a well-known Ottoman scholar, and his work, Hamsa (a set of five romances in masnaw? form), showing that 'Atayi was in search of originality and was critical of the imitation of Persian literary works. As a writer, he functioned in the context of an intellectual and cultural milieu in which translations from Persian were in full swing and migrant Safavid literary scholars enjoyed the patronage of the Ottoman court. The last paper highlights the importance of non-Shi'ite works that were translated into Persian as a part of the Safavid translation movement, during which almost all major Shi'ite works written in Arabic before the Safavids, as well as works from a diverse range of fields in other languages, were rendered into Persian.






Yusuf Unal

(Emory University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Elif Bozgan

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Philip Bockholt

(Freie Universität Berlin)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Ercan Akyol

(University of Vienna)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;