Evliya Çelebi

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Evliya Çelebi (March 25(?), 1611 – 1682) (اوليا چلبى[clarification needed]) was a Turkish traveler who journeyed through the territory of the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands over a period of forty years.



Evliya Çelebi was born in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 1611 to a family from Kutahya. His father was Derviş Mehmed Zılli , a jeweller for the Ottoman court. His mother was an Abaza tribeswoman, a relative of the later grand vizier Melek Ahmed Paşa.[1] Coming from a wealthy family, he received an excellent education.[citation needed] He may have joined the Gülşenî sufi order; evidence for this claim comes from his intimate knowledge of its lodge in Cairo and from a graffito referring to himself as "Evliya-yı Gülşenî" (Evliya of the Gülşenî)[citation needed]. He began his travels in Istanbul, taking notes on buildings, markets, customs and culture; in 1640, he started his first journey outside the city. His collection of notes from all of his travels formed a ten-volume work called the Seyahatname (Book of Travels).

He died sometime after 1682; it is unclear whether he was in Istanbul or Cairo at the time.

The Seyahatname

Although many of the descriptions in this book were written in an exaggerated manner or were plainly inventive fiction or 3rd-source misinterpretation, his notes are widely accepted as a useful guide to the cultural aspects and lifestyle of 17th-century Ottoman Empire. The first volume deals exclusively with Istanbul, the final volume with Egypt. Despite being characterized as unreliable, the work is valued as both a study of Turkish culture and the lands he reports on.

Currently, there is no English translation of the entire work. There are translations of various parts of the Seyahatname, but not the whole. The longest single English translation was published in 1834 by Ritter Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, an Austrian Orientalist; it may be found under the name "Evliya Efendi." Von Hammer's work covers the first two volumes: Istanbul and Anatolia, but is antiquated[clarification needed][citation needed]. Other translations include Erich Prokosch's nearly complete German translations of the tenth volume, the 2004 introductory work entitled The World of Evliya Çelebi: An Ottoman Mentality written by University of Chicago professor Robert Dankoff, and Dankoff and Sooyong Kim's 2010 translation of select excerpts of the ten volumes An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi.

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