Ottoman Manuscripts/Divan Copy Auction – Poetry News Roundup March 11th

Today on My Poetic Side we take a look at an exhibition of Ottoman manuscripts and the rare copy of the Divan that will shortly be going up for auction.

Ottoman Manuscripts Showcased in Istanbul Exhibition

An exhibition has opened in Istanbul which will be looking at Ottoman manuscripts in an attempt to explore the culture and life of the period. The exhibition “Memories of Humankind: Stories from the Ottoman Manuscripts” will be open until 25th July at the Istanbul Research Institute.

The majority of the collection is based on the private collection of Sevket Rado, a Turkish journalist and intellectual who passed away in 1988. The collection was purchased by the Institute in 2007. Whilst the collection has been available to academics since its purchase this is the first time that the general public will have access to it.


It has been 90 years since Turkey adopted Latin script and 100 years since the empire collapsed, but these manuscripts still have so much that they can tell people.

The Institute is home to thousands of manuscripts, but just 67 were selected for the exhibition. The selection was made using a range of parameters, including being the most typical or the most beautiful. One of these works that have been selected is an anthology of poetry, or divan, by Baki, the 16th-century Ottoman poet. The book contains a note that was written by the copyist which states that it was approved by Baki himself. This indicates that the collection contains a very good and complete collection of his poetry.

Some of the manuscripts that are on display are written in Arabic, others in Persian and Ottoman Turkish – they are a perfect reflection of the time.

As well as these manuscripts there are also a number of translations in the exhibition. These included works by Mevlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim mystic and Ahmedi the 14th-century Anatolian poet. There is even an 18th-century cookbook amongst the manuscripts on display.

The manuscripts have been arranged into sections to make it easier for visitors, and there is also a section which looks at the work of translators and copyists and the role that they played in helping to produce some of these most important works.

Stolen Work to be Sold at Auction

Earlier this year, a Dutch art detective located a missing manuscript by the Persian poet Hafez. Now, what is believed to be one of the earliest copies of the Divan is to go up for auction in April.

The manuscript is a gold-illuminated copy of Divan of Hafez. It is dated from 1462. It was illustrated by Shaykh Mahmud Pir Budaqi, a calligrapher and is one of the earliest copies of the Persian poet’s work.

The Divan was returned to the family of the owner, who have now decided to sell it, as they already have with a number of the other manuscripts that he had collected during his lifetime. The manuscript is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s on 1st April and they have placed an estimate of between £80,000 to £120,000 on it. All of the manuscripts that they have sold for the family have however doubled their estimated prices.

You must register to comment. Log in or Register.