Khalili Portolan Atlas

Khalili Portolan Atlas Facsimile Edition

Turkey — 17th century

A reorganization of cartographic material after the discovery of the New World by Columbus: 290 maps concerning different peoples and cultures from the point of view of the Ottoman Empire

  1. Piri Reis (ca. 1465–1553) was an Ottoman admiral, navigator, geographer, and cartographer

  2. His work synthesized Arab, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian, and older Greek maps

  3. It was updated in 1524–25 in order to be presented as a gift to Sultan Suleiman I (1494–1566)

Khalili Portolan Atlas

MSS 718 Private Collection
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Khalili Portolan Atlas

When Christopher Columbus inadvertently discovered the New World, it caused a sensation not only back in Europe but in the Muslim lands of the Near East. Piri Reis was an Ottoman admiral, navigator, geographer, and cartographer who created the Kitab-i bahriye or Book of Seamanship. Published in 1521, it is one of the most famous cartographical works of the period and contains 290 maps in addition to detailed geographical information as well as navigation techniques and information about the various peoples and cultures of the world. It was revised in 1524–25 with updated information and charts in order to be presented as a gift to Sultan Suleiman I. Although he was not an explorer and never saw the Atlantic Ocean, Piri Reis synthesized Arab, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian, and older Greek maps into a comprehensive depiction of the world as it was known in the early 16th century.

Khalili Portolan Atlas

The Ottoman Empire was at its peak in the 16th century and Sultan Suleiman I (1494–1566) in Constantinople ruled over a territory stretching from the Balkans and the coasts of North Africa in the West to Persia in the East. This military success also brought a vast network of libraries, schools, and scholars under Ottoman control including almost the entirety of the Islamic scholarly tradition. Muslim scholars excelled in many fields, but none more so than astronomy, which is also an important tool for cartographers like Piri Reis (ca. 1465–1553). Armed with this knowledge, he created some of the most important cartographic works of the period, many of which survive today including several world maps and the Kitab-i bahriye or Book of Seamanship. The 17th century Khalili Portolan Atlas is largely based on this work but was updated with more recent Italian and Dutch geographic knowledge, includes the Black Sea unlike the original, and also incorporates a series of cityscapes including Istanbul, Venice, and Cairo that reveal the exuberance of Ottoman topographic painting.

Seafarers’ Handbook

The Kitab-i bahriye is one of the most famous cartographic works of the 16th century and is divided into two books. The first contains practical information for sailors on the coasts, islands, crossings, straits, and gulfs of the Mediterranean Sea and known regions of the Atlantic Ocean as well as instructions on how to use a compass, navigate with the stars, and approach individual ports. It also discusses various types of storms and gives advice on where to take refuge during a storm. The second section contains the portolan charts and cruise guides; it begins in the Dardanelles and follows the coastline and islands of the Mediterranean in a counterclockwise direction, first heading West until reaching the Strait of Gibraltar and Canary Islands then returning along the coast of North Africa and the Levant before ending with the Anatolian coastline.

A Blend of Ancient and Contemporary Knowledge

For source material, Piri was made use of more than twenty maps created by Arab, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Indian cartographers served as his source material. He also claims that some of the old Greek maps he used were drawn during the reign of Alexander the Great, but it is believed that he confused the 2nd century Greek geographer Ptolemy with the ancient Macedonian general and companion of Alexander’s who eventually ruled Egypt as Ptolemy I (ca. 367–282 BC). A Turkish translation of Ptolemy's Geographia had already been created at the behest of Mehmed II (1432–81) and would have been known to Piri.

Who Was Piri Reis?

Although little was known about Piri Reis for centuries, more recent research in the Ottoman archives has illuminated the biography of this important figure. First, Piri Reis was not his proper name but a name of convenience that actually translates to Captain Piri. His true name was Hacı Ahmed Muhiddin Piri and he was born either in Gallipoli on the banks of the Dardanelles or in Karaman, Central Anatolia, where his father Hacı Mehmed Piri was born. The title Hacı, which is Turkish for Hadji, indicates that both he and his father completed the Hajj by going to Mecca. In his youth, he served under his uncle Kemal Reis (ca. 1451 – 1511), a famous privateer who rose to the rank of admiral in the Ottoman Navy and saw as much action as an adventurous young man could ask for. He began his formal study of navigation and cartography in 1511 after his uncle died in a shipwreck before returning to active duty in 1516. In 1547, Piri was named Reis Pasha or admiral of the Ottoman fleets based in Egypt and the Indian Ocean. When he returned to Egypt at the age of 90 after a long and prestigious career, he was beheaded in 1533 for refusing to support another campaign against the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf. Several warships and submarines of the Turkish Navy have since been named after Piri Reis.

Codicology

Origin
Turkey
Date
17th century

Available facsimile editions:
Khalili Portolan Atlas – MSS 718 – Private Collection Facsimile Edition
Azimuth Editions – London, 1992
Limited Edition: 750 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Khalili portolan atlas

Azimuth Editions – London, 1992

Publisher: Azimuth Editions – London, 1992
Limited Edition: 750 copies
Commentary: 1 volume by Svatopluk Souček
Language: English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
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