Evliya Çelebi

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Statue Evliyâ Çelebis near Eger , Hungary

Evliyâ Çelebi , also Ewlija Tschelebi ( Ottoman اوليا چلبي, * March 25, 1611 in the district of Unkapanı in İstanbul ; died after 1683 while traveling, probably in Egypt ), was an Ottoman writer who reported in his travel book (Seyahatnâme) about his numerous travels in the Ottoman Empire and in neighboring countries. This work is one of the most important on the Ottoman world of the late 17th century and was declared World Document Heritage in 2013 . The orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856) rediscovered Evliyâ Çelebi and translated it (1834).

Origin and youth

Evliyâ (dt. "God's friend") Çelebi (Ottoman honorary title to designate noble or educated people) was the son of the highest court goldsmith Sultan Ahmed I , Derviş Mehmed Zıllî Efendi (also called Derviş Mehmed Ağa or Derviş Mehmed Ağa-i Zıll. 1648 ), and his wife, one from the Caucasus derived maid . Evliyâ grew up in very favorable economic circumstances. His ancestors came from Kütahya in Asia Minor and moved there after the conquest of Constantinople . His father was a well-known figure who also took part in the conquest of Cyprus .

After completing his studies at the madrasah of Şeyhülislâm Hâmid Efendi, Evliyâ Çelebi received a post as reciter of the Koran in the seraglio . There he learned calligraphy , music, Arabic grammar and Koran studies from Keçi Mehmed Efendi at the higher educational institution of the Sultan's Palace ( Enderun ), where he proved to be very talented. Keçi Mehmed Efendi was also the teacher of the famous Katib Çelebi . Due to his family position and his studies, Evliyâ was an educated man who was familiar with the customs of his environment.

In the service of the Sultan and while traveling

At the instigation of his uncle Melek Ahmed Pascha, Evliyâ Çelebi was accepted into the court service of Sultan Murad IV as a body cavalryman ( sipahı ) in 1638 . During this time he first roamed the capital of the Ottoman Empire and the surrounding area of ​​Istanbul. From the beginning he noted what he observed and thought to be remarkable. In 1640 Evliyâ began to tour the empire in a semi-official capacity. With the exception of Yemen and the provinces in north-west Africa, he traveled to all Ottoman countries and beyond that to Crimea, Iran, Sudan and Abyssinia. First he went to Bursa , İzmit and Trabzon . 1645 he traveled to the Crimea , where he served as Minister of the Ottomans at the Tatars acted -Khan. In the following years Evliyâ also traveled in the service of the Ottoman state. He was a messenger for various army commanders in Epirus and later worked as an accountant for the Governor General of Erzurum in the east of the empire. He came to Azerbaijan and Georgia . In 1648 Evliyâ returned to Istanbul and a little later went to Damascus , where he stayed for three years. After 1651 he traveled through Rumelia : for a long time he stayed in Sofia and Silistra . In 1664 he was an eyewitness at the battle of St. Gotthard and he visited Buda and Lake Balaton in Hungary . Between 1665 and 1670 Evliyâ visited Austria , Albania , Dalmatia , Thessaly , Crete , Komotini and Thessaloniki . He spent the last years of his life in Cairo, where he wrote the Seyahatnâme and to which he dedicated the last volume.

Seyahatnâme - the travel book

Evliyâ Çelebi published his travelogues in a ten-volume work, the Seyahatnâme (travel book). In it he described everything that struck him as remarkable. His work offers a mixture of all possible fields of knowledge. It describes the cities visited and individual important buildings, especially mosques, synagogues and churches, and their history. It also describes the people, their folk customs, songs and languages, their clothing and festivals, as well as religion or interpersonal relationships. He reports in detail on the administration of the respective area, on respected families and famous people such as poets, musicians, the military and civil servants. Evliyâ is interested in the economic fundamentals of the individual areas, he also provides information on military matters, especially the location and strength of many fortresses. From a linguistic point of view, Evliyâ provides important information because he often notes down words that were used by the various peoples.

However, the author proceeded unsystematically when compiling his information. Evliy's information is therefore not always reliable. He often exaggerates, especially when it comes to figures. It can be clearly seen that the author not only wanted to inform but also to entertain with his travel reports. Regardless, the Seyahatnâme is an important source of life and culture in the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Just one example is Evliyâs description of the origin and occurrence of 76 musical instruments, whereby the Seyahatnâme provides the most valuable contribution to the knowledge of the music of that time. In many areas the source value has only been rated higher by research for a few years.

Handwritten text page from Volume VII, Topkapı Sarayı Library

Evliyâ Çelebi's style differs greatly from the style of Dīwān literature that was common in his time , which was shaped by conventions and influences from Persian. Instead, he used the Turkish vernacular of the time. His prose texts are fluent and easy to understand. He lets his own feelings, comments and thoughts flow into the description. At least from the historian's point of view, Evliyâ € ™ s handling of time is problematic. The author is not particularly interested in the clear sequence of different events he describes. In his work, the past and the present are also closely interwoven in terms of language: it is not uncommon for him to tell two incidents from different areas as if he had observed them at the same time.

In the ten volumes of his logbook he describes the following trips:

  1. Istanbul and region (1630)
  2. Anatolia , the Caucasus, Crete and Azerbaijan (1640)
  3. Syria , Palestine , Kurdistan , Armenia and Rumelia (1648)
  4. to Iraq (1655)
  5. Russia and the Balkan Peninsula (1656)
  6. the Hungarian campaigns (1663/64)
  7. the Austrian Empire , the Crimea and again the Caucasus (1664)
  8. Greece , again the Crimea and Rumelia (1667–1670)
  9. the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca (1671)
  10. Egypt and Sudan (1672)
The two major embassies meet at Komorn on May 30, 1665

Vienna, the "golden apple"

In Book VII he describes his visit to Vienna , the "Golden Apple" ( Kızıl Elma ) of the Ottomans in great detail . Since he sometimes adorned his travel reports with foreign experiences, his stay in Vienna was not without controversy among historians. However, in 1975 Karl Teply found an expense account in the imperial court chamber archive in which Evliyâ Efendi is mentioned by name. He was a companion in the entourage of the Ottoman Grand Ambassador Kara Mehmed Pascha , Beğlerbeği von Rumelien, in 1665. They traveled along the Danube via Ofen , Komorn , Raab , Bruck an der Leitha and Schwechat to Vienna. Evliyâ Çelebi describes the buildings of the city in a very imaginative way and speaks, for example, of 360 churches and monasteries, has 470 towers, and claims that 1000 monks lived in the Stephansturm . He is particularly interested in the fortifications and reports on long protocol disputes between the Grand Ambassador and the Imperial Court. He enthusiastically describes the beauty of the boys and girls in Vienna. The interaction between men and women amazes him, however.

"It is a very strange thing. In this country and in the whole of the Giaurenreich in general, women have the big say and they are honored and respected for the sake of Mother Mary."


  • In the realm of the golden apple. The Turkish globetrotter Evliyâ Çelebi made a memorable trip to the Giaurenland and the city and fortress of Vienna in 1665. Translated and explained by Richard Franz Kreutel , greatly increased edition provided by Erich Prokosch and Karl Teply (Ottoman historians, new series, vol. 2). Verlag Styria, Graz / Vienna / Cologne 1987, ISBN 3-222-11747-0 .
  • Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi . 2 vols. Berlin 2005, ISBN 975-379-160-7 (Çocuk Klasikleri Dizisi)
Modern Turkish selection of works for children
  • Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels. Evliya Çelebi in Albania and Adjacent Regions (Kosovo, Montenegro, Ohrid). The Relevant Sections of the Seyāhatnāme . Issued u. translated by Robert Elsie and Robert Dankoff. Leiden and Boston 2000. ISBN 90-04-11624-9
Critical edition in English.
  • To Ottoman Traveler. Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Celebi . Edited and translated by Robert Dankoff et al. Sooyong Kim. Eland, London 2010. ISBN 978-1-906011-44-4
  • Cairo described by Evliyâ Çelebi in the second half of the 17th century . Issued u. translated v. Erich Prokosch. Simurg, Istanbul 2000. ISBN 975-7172-35-9
  • Selected Stories of Seyhatname . Edited by Zeynep Üstün, translated by Havva Aslan. Profile Yayıncılık, Istanbul 2007. ISBN 978-975-996-072-8
Secondary literature
  • Bekim Agai: Europe as reflected in the perceptions of travelers from the Islamic world . In: Dirk Ansorge (ed.): Pluralist identity. Observations on the origin and future of Europe . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 978-3-534-26820-7 , pp. 125-133.
  • Franz Babinger : Ewlija Tschelebi's travel routes in Albania. In: Communications from the Seminar for Oriental Languages 33 (1930), pp. 138–178. Reprinted in ders .: Essays and treatises on the history of Southeast Europe and the Levant, Vol. 2 [Munich] 1966, pp. 51–89.
  • Robert Dankoff: An Ottoman Mentality. The World of Evliya Çelebi . Leiden 2004
  • Robert Dankoff, Klaus Kreiser: Materials on Evliya Celebi. II. A Guide to the Seyâhat-name of Evliya Celebi. Bibliography raisonnée. Wiesbaden 1992.
  • Robert Dankoff, Semih Tezcan (ed.): Evliyâ Çelebi. Studies and essays commemorating the 400th anniversary of his birth . Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Publications, Ankara 2012, ISBN 978-605-5327-19-4 .
  • Robert Elsie: The Albanian Lexicon of Evliya Çelebi, 1662, and what a dervish must know when passing through . In: Southeast Research . No. 57 , 1998, pp. 95-102 ( elsie.de (PDF)).
  • Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall : Strange find of a Turkish travelogue. In: Intelligence sheet for the Wiener Allgemeine Literaturzeitung . 1814.
  • Klaus Kreiser : Edirne in the 17th century after Evliyâ Çelebî. A contribution to the knowledge of the Ottoman city . Freiburg 1975. ISBN 3-87997-045-9
  • Klaus Kreiser: Evliyā Çelebī . In: Cemal Kafadar, Hakan Karateke, Cornell Fleischer (eds.): Historians of the Ottoman Empire October 2005 (review article on the life and work of Evliyâ Çelebi with bibliography; English)
  • Richard Franz Kreutel: Evliya Çelebi . In: Biographical Lexicon on the History of Southeast Europe . Volume 1. Munich 1974, p. 480 f.
  • Jens Peter Laut : Materials on Evliya Celebi. I. Explanations and indices for map B IX 6 , "Asia Minor in the 17th Century according to Evliya Celebi". Wiesbaden 1989.
  • Jens Peter Laut: [Map] Asia Minor in the 17th century according to Evliya Celebi. Wiesbaden 1992. ( Tübingen Atlas of the Middle East , Map B IX 6, western and eastern part.)
  • Helena Turková: Evliyâ Çelebî's travels and forays into Dalmatia and Bosnia in the years 1659/61 . Prague 1965.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Evliya Çelebi's “Book of Travels” in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library and the Süleymaniye Manuscript Library. In: Memory of the World - Register. UNESCO , 2013, accessed June 20, 2013 .
  2. a b Evliyâ Çelebi: In the realm of the golden apple. The Turkish globetrotter Evliyâ Çelebi made a memorable trip to Giaurenland and the city and fortress of Vienna in 1665. Translated and introduced by Richard Franz Kreutel, Erich Prokosch, Karl Teply, Volume 2 of the series: Ottoman historians. Verlag Styria, Graz / Vienna / Cologne 1987, ISBN 3-222-11747-0 , pp. 11-14.
  3. Walter Leitsch, Stanisław Trawkowski: Poland and Austria in the 17th century . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna 1999, p. 269
  4. ^ Henry George Farmer : Turkish Instruments of Music in the Seventeenth Century. As described in the Siyāḥat nāma of Ewliyā Chelebī . Civic Press, Glasgow 1937; Unmodified reprint: Longwood Press, Portland, Maine 1976.
  5. Evliyâ Çelebi: In the realm of the golden apple. The Turkish globetrotter Evliyâ Çelebi made a memorable trip to Giaurenland and the city and fortress of Vienna in 1665. Translated and introduced by Richard Franz Kreutel, Erich Prokosch, Karl Teply, Volume 2 of the series: Ottoman historians. Verlag Styria, Graz / Vienna / Cologne 1987, ISBN 3-222-11747-0 , p. 234.