Medieval Arabic Cosmography and its Ottoman Reception
Public research seminar
Feray Çoşkun (Istanbul)
Thursday, 14 September 2017, 6-8 pm
῾Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā’ib al-mawjūdāt by al-Qazwīnī (d. 739/1338) and the Kharīdat al-‘ajā’ib wa farīḍaṭ al-gharā’ib by (pseudo-) al-Wardī were among the most popular medieval Arabic cosmographies in the Islamicate societies. They were widely read and translated into other languages (e.g. Persian and Ottoman Turkish) and even inspired Persian and Ottoman scholars to compose similar works. Including a vast amount of material from travel literature, history, folklore and natural sciences, they intended to provide a general view of the cosmos and extensively dealt with its wondrous and curious entities (‘ajā’ib wa gharā’ib).
The presentation will concentrate on the visual and contextual aspects of the ῾Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt and the Kharīdat al-‘ajā’ib copies extant in the manuscript libraries of Istanbul with a particular focus on how the genre of‘ajā’ib- and gharā’ib-literature is related to the diversity of the cosmos, divine omnipotence and wisdom.
Feray Coşkun studied history at Bogazici University and received her PhD from Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin in 2015. Her master’s thesis concentrated on the Ottoman reception of Islamic cosmography with a focus on the textual analysis of the sixteenth century Ottoman translation of the Kharīdat al-‘ajā’ib. In her doctoral dissertation Sanctifying Ottoman Istanbul: The Shrine of Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī she explored how the shrine of al-Anṣārī came into prominence as an early Islamic lieu de mémoire in the Ottoman capital.