Müteferrika in Iran

The Ottoman empire in Ibrahim Müteferrika’s time. We give away the late 17th-century
map by Mercator, whose details we used as a background picture in
our Müteferrika site,
as a gift to our readers (10.2 MB!)

Ibrahim Müteferrika, the first Turkish printer, of Hungarian origin, having visited the Protestant universities of Western Europe, then moved from Transylvanian Kolozsvár (Cluj) to Constantinople, later working as an interpreter all over the Balkans and as a diplomat at the end of his life in the Caucasus, traveled over such a vast area as few others in his time. He had a detailed knowledge of the Persian empire as well, at least this is indicated by his first printed work (1529), the following map of Persia. But whether he personally was in Persia is unknown to us, and considering the diplomatic relations between the two empires in the period, it is more probable that he was not.

Müteferrika arrived at Iran only on 15 Âbân 1390, or as the infidels say, 6 November 2011, the day before yesterday, shortly after noon. We received the news from the Hungarian Iranologist Miklós Sárközi researching in Tehran that even two distinguished Persian academic sites gave information on the first academic Müteferrika site composed by us where, apart from the biography and bibliography of the scholar, we also gradually publish the electronic facsimile of all the Turkish incunables published by him. The text of the two news is the same. Besides the English translation we also quote the Persian original, hoping that it would invite some stray Persian readers to our site.

ابراهيم متفرقه و نخستين چاپخانه اسلامي

نخستين چاپخانه اسلامي در كشور عثماني، در 11 جمادي الاول 1140 قمري/ 14 دسامبر سال 1727 ميلادي، بدست ابراهيم متفرقه، اسیر زادة مجاري مسلمان شده باز شد. بين سالهاي1142 تا 1155 قمري/ 1729 تا 1742 ميلادي جمعا 16 كتاب چاپ كرد. وسایل چاپخانه از فرانسه، گراورها از هلند، و پرسنل از اتريش مي آمدند.

هرچند دانشمندان تركيه توجه خاصي به ابراهيم متفرقه و آثار او داشته اند، اينك دانشمندان مجاري نيز او را مورد توجه قرار داده اند. سايت ابراهيم متفرقه زندگي و آثار او را بزبان انگليسي و مجاري مورد بررسي قرار ميدهد.

Ibrahim Motafareghe and the first Islamic press

The first Islamic press in the Ottoman Empire was opened on 11 Jumadi al-Awwal 1140 AH / 14 December 1727 AD by Ibrahim Motafareghe, a Hungarian prisoner of war who converted to Islam. A total of 16 books were printed between 1142 and 1155 AH / 1729 and 1742 AD. The equipment of the press came from France, the engravings from the Netherlands, and the staff from Austria.

Although Turkish scholars pay special attention to Ibrahim Motafareghe and his work, Hungarian scholars have just begun to consider him. The
Ibrahim Motafareghe site examines his life and work in English and Hungarian languages.

The Persian text transcribes Müteferrika’s name with the MTFRQh consonants, whose authentic pronunciation by a Persian reader is unknown to us. We have rendered it as above on the basis of the common word “motafaregh”, ʻscattered’, written with the same consonants except for the final h. And although the scholarly reviewer was also somewhat scattered – it seems that he did not arrive in the menu down at Imre Karácson’s name, who searched the traces of Müteferrika before anyone else in the archives of fin-de-siècle Istanbul, he does not mention the biography in Turkish, and he unambiguously points out captivity as the reason of Müteferrika’s stay in Istanbul, ignoring the new and more probable possibilities proposed in our biography –, nevertheless it is a great achievement that the Transylvanian Hungarian printer reached for the first time the world of Persian scholarship.

Persian scholar (Haji Mirza-Ughazzi). Illustration from John Clark Ridpath’s With the World’s People, 1912

5 comentarios:

Araz dijo...

I love this map of Iran and will try to finish deciphering the text in Turkish. By the way, the "he" at the end is often used as "a" in Persian (similarity with the Arabic "ta-marbuta"?), so the pronounciation is "mutafarriga".

Studiolum dijo...

Well, although the pronunciation of vowels in Iran is slightly changing both in time and space, and many – especially earlier – have pronounced the final -h as “a” (this is how Persian names with final -h were earlier transliterated in English, e.g. Shahnama instead of Shahnameh), in modern standard textbook pronunciation it is set as “e”, that’s why I also follow it. But it is likely that most Persians would indeed pronounce it as you propose.

I’m looking forward eagerly to your reading of the map!

Araz dijo...

By the way, "mutafarrig(un)" in Arabic means "diverse", which comes from "faraga" meaning "differentiate". So Ibrahim Mutafarriga was an embodiment of diversity - Muslim Hungarian with broad knowledge of different cultures. The confusion is that "gaf" is actually pronounced much as "k", so "scattered" is for "mutafarrik" with "kef". We will need to check the original name - is it with "gaf" or "kef"?

Studiolum dijo...

A beautiful etymology, and very fitting to Ibrahim Müteferrika!

His name was originally written with qaf (see the title of Imre Karácson’s Turkish article, the very first publication on him), just like in the above quoted Persian articles: متفرقه, or in Persian “scattered”.

languagehat dijo...

"Motafareghe" is correct; q after a vowel is pronounced identically to gh in modern Persian (initially it is pronounced like k), and final -a is pronounced -e. I have watched a lot of Iranian movies (and conversed a bit with Iranians back when my Farsi was better), and I am quite sure of this. (I am speaking, of course, of the standard language; there are doubtless dialects that do things differently.)