Mahmut Ak

Keywords: Bartın, İbrahim Hamdi, Atlas, Ottoman, Geography


Though a product of the period subsequent to the zenith (16th and 17th cc.) attained by Ottoman geographical works, the Atlas of Bartınlı İbrahim Hamdi, the subject of this piece, is shown to exhibit a equally high scholarly standard. For it incorporates not only the knowledge contained in written sources, but it also conveys the author's personal experience and oral communications by his contemporaries. Portions of the work have previously been introduced by M. Tahir and T.M. Yaman, and it has been appraised as a whole by C. Orhonlu. Nonetheless, the relation borne by the unique copy of the Atlas in the Es'ad Efendi collection-in terms of both its formal and technical aspects and the text itself-to the Cihannümâ and Menâzırü'l-avâlim needs yet to be determined. İbrahim Hamdi, who was born in the what is now the district of Ulus in the Black Sea province of Bartın, spent his childhood with his father in the Balkans. He received his education in Timişoara, where he resided twenty years; and other members of his family are known to include Selim Dede, Eyyub Efendi and Pirî Ahmed Efendi. Besides Timişoara (until 1716), the writer in various capacities dwelled in numerous locales, such as Transylvania, Belgrade, Tırnova (1718-9), Chotin and Kilid (1721), Amasra (1727), İstanbul (1733-4), Isaccea (1736), Kartal and Babadaghı (1737). Among his various positions, İbrahim Hamdi participated in the Senta (Yugoslavia) campaign as an armorer (1697); and at Chotin (Ukraine), he first served as a clerk for the armory and later for the provincial financial administration office during the repairs undertaken on the citadel of Chotin (1721) and, finally, became private secretary to Abdi Pasha (d. 1722), the commander of Chotin. As an official, the writer (also active in commerce) was regarded as a man of probity who carried out his duties with due seriousness and a sense of responsibility; in addition, he wrote poetry and was a trained engraver and gilder. The Atlas: As composed, the work originally consisted in two volumes. T.M. Yaman probably had access to the first volume, which was destroyed by a fire in Kastamonu in 1942. The second volume (Es'ad Efendi Kütüphane no. 2044) lacks the front matter and certain other portions are also incomplete while the concluding segment is whole. Returning to his birthplace in 1749, the author composed the Atlas between 10 January and 26 October 1750 (H. 1 Rebiülevvel and 25 Zilkade 1163); however, the author subsequently reviewed the text and made certain emendations. Those annotatations preceded by the word tasdîk ("verified) and followed by "minhu ("from his [hand]") and sahh ("authenticated") belong in all probability to the author himself; the latest of which is dated 2 December 1762 (H. 15 Cemaziyelevvel 1176). The second group of addenda is of later date and likely originates with the subsequent owner of the work, who was someone close to Sultan Abdülhamid I (r. 1774-89). The contents, conforming to the practice of Ottoman geographers, are first devoted to a description of the earth and its movements and aspects. Volume one contained the cities of Anatolia and volume two the cities of Africa, Europe and the Americas. A wealth of personal knowledge is displayed in İbrahim Hamdi's descriptions of the cities of Rumelia, especially, Timişoara and Chotin and environs, the Lipka Tatars of Poland and İstanbul. For places on which he possessed no first-hand information, the author availed himself of the reports of prominent contemporaries like Eyyub Efendi, the pashas Yahya and Kolchak, the physician Djordji, Pirî Ahmed Efendi, İbrahim Agha and Arnavud Hodja. Among the many written sources on which the writer based his work, Cihannümâ occupies a special place of importance; another source on which he drew was various portions of Menâzırü'l-avâlim. Though in the opinion of T.M. Yaman the Atlas is "a supplemented reproduction of the Cihannümâ," the value of the eyewitness observations of the author in combination with the knowledge exposed in such works as Menâzır serve to bestow an independent character on the Atlas. The significance of the work is further enhanced by the care and meticulousness with which the writer employed his sources. To add to those parts already published, the original portions of the Atlas, highlighted here, in particular, deserve urgent study.