Mustafa Âli's Epic Deeds of Artists

A Critical Edition of the Earliest Ottoman Text about the Calligraphers and Painters of the Islamic World


Esra Akın

The earliest known Ottoman literary source about the lives and works of calligraphers, painters, limners, and book-binders of the Ottoman and Persianate worlds, Mustafa ʿÂli’s (1541-1600) Epic Deeds of Artists (1587), was hitherto considered to be primarily a biographic dictionary. Based on a comprehensive reading of the descriptive and analytic tools of ʿÂli’s biographical writings as well as his passionately penned personal reflections on sixteenth-century attitudes toward art and artists, this critical edition by Esra Akın-Kıvanç brings to the fore the significance of Epic Deeds not only as a guide to the connoisseurs and aficionados of the time, but also as a fascinating commentary by a prominent intellectual on the spiritual meaning and material value of art.

Sinan's Autobiographies

Five Sixteenth-Century Texts


Howard Crane and Esra Akin

The sixteenth-century Ottoman architect Sinan is today universally recognized as the defining figure in the development of the classical Ottoman style. In addition to his vast oeuvre, he left five remarkable autobiographical accounts, the Adsız Risale, the Risāletü'l-Miʿmāriyye, Tuḥfetü'l-Miʿmārīn, Teẕkiretü'l-Ebniye and Teẕkiretü’l-Bünyān, that provide details of his life and works. Based on information dictated by Sinan to his poet-painter friend Mustafa Saʿi Çelebi shortly before his death, these accounts exist in multiple manuscript versions in libraries in Istanbul, Ankara, and Cairo.
The present volume contains critical editions of all five texts along with transcriptions, annotated translations, and facsimiles of the most important variant versions; and an introductory essay that analyzes the various surviving manuscripts, reconstructs their histories, and establishes the relationships between them; and a preface that considers the sources, themes, and broader implications of the five autobiographies.