Mustafa Âli's Epic Deeds of Artists

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


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.
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EUR €152.00USD $203.00

Biographical Note

Esra Akın-Kivanç holds a doctorate (2007) in History of Art from Ohio State University. She has co-authored Sinan’s Autobiographies: Five Sixteenth-Century Texts (Brill, 2006), and is currently working on a compilation of pre-nineteenth-century Ottoman art-historical texts. She teaches Islamic Art and Architecture at Oberlin College.

Review Quotes

"The 150 pages of introduction and analysis are very well written and will undoubtedly serve as the primary reference for this work for a long time to come."
Maximilian Hartmuth Review of Middle East Studies (MESA) 48.1-2 (2014) p. 56-58.

'I pored iznesenih neslaganja, smatramo da se radio o prvorazrednom izdanju koje će u osmanistici postati referentna knjiga.'
Ẓenad Filipović in Prilozi za orijentalnu filologiju 64 (2015), 545-546.


Those interested in written sources of art history, in the history of the arts of calligraphy and painting, in the cultural and art-historical past of the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world.


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