Menazilname – MASA – T5964 – İstanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphane (Istanbul, Turkey)

Turkey — 1537

Wordless propaganda of the victorious Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent: an invitation to independently explore 107 exotic cities and mysterious landscapes he had recently conquered against the Persians

  1. Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566) ruled over the Ottoman Empire when it was at its peak

  2. He commissioned the polymath Matrakçı Nasuh to splendidly document the route he took

  3. 107 gorgeous, naturalistic, and accurate cityscapes and landscapes adorn the Turkish text


T5964 İstanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphane (Istanbul, Turkey)
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)

Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566), known as “Suleiman the Magnificent”, ruled over the Ottoman Empire at its zenith and enjoyed numerous victories over the Turks’ enemies both in the West and the East. The Sultan’s first campaign against the Persians in the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555 is documented in the magnificently illuminated Beyan-ı Menazil-i Sefer-i Irakeyn-i Sultan Süleyman Han or “Chronicle of Stages of the Campaign of Iraq and Persia of Sultan Suleiman Khan”. Completed in 1537, it is the work of the great polymath Matrakçı Nasuh (ca. 1480 – ca. 1564), who paid attention not only to the changing of the seasons and landscapes but also depicted 107 landscapes and cityscapes with great detail.


Bearing the full name Beyan-ı Menazil-i Sefer-i Irakeyn-i Sultan Süleyman Han or “Chronicle of Stages of the Campaign of Iraq and Persia of Sultan Suleiman Khan”, this Turkish masterpiece of illumination chronicles the first campaign of 1533-36 during the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555. It belongs to the genre of menazilname or menzilnâme – works stating the places to stay on a road and the distances between these places. Although such works are usually practical guides measuring travel times in hours, this specimen dated to 1537 was created at the behest of Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566) to commemorate and document his campaign. As such, it features 107 colorful landscapes and cityscapes that were created with a great eye for detail by the great polymath Matrakçı Nasuh (ca. 1480 – ca. 1564).

War with Persia

After waging campaigns against the Christians and stabilizing the empire’s European borders, Sultan Suleiman I, known as Suleiman the Magnificent, turned his attention east to the Persian Empire, which was then ruled by the Safavid Dynasty. Territorial disputes and the possibility of a Hapsburg-Persian alliance prompted the Sultan to launch an attack on Safavid positions in the Caucasus and Iraq. Unable to face them in the field, the Persians were forced to adopt a scorched earth policy and harass the Turks until they were finally forced to negotiate, ceding most of Iraq including Baghdad to the Ottoman Empire in addition to access to the Persian Gulf. The route and various stages of his first campaign are detailed in this wonderfully illuminated menazilname, tracing the journey from Istanbul to Baghdad to Tabriz and then the return via Halab and Eskisehir.

Matrakçı Nasuh

The artist responsible for this work was Matrakçı Nasuh, a Bosniak son of a Janissary who, like many Christians living under Ottoman rule in the Balkans, was recruited into the service of the sultans. Nasuh was a true a polymath: a statesman, mathematician, teacher, historian, geographer, cartographer, soldier, master swordsman, blacksmith, navigator, inventor, painter, farmer, and miniaturist. As an artist, he is distinguished by his naturalistic style focusing on panoramic views mixed with the greatest detail, e.g. his cityscape of Istanbul shows almost every street and building of the city. He attempted to depict other cities accurately, detailing differing styles in architecture as well as accounting for seven different climate zones and taking note of local flora and fauna. Thus, the beginning of the campaign in spring shows green grassy fields, but later stages while crossing the desert show brown sand. Of the 107 miniatures, 25 fill the entire page. Altogether, Nasuh depicts cities, towns, castles, villages, ruins, inns, mountains, gorges, important streams, bridges, deserts, steppes and gardens, and pointed out where they are located. His work is a valuable resource for architectural historians due to the artistry, accuracy, and detail with which he depicted medieval cities in the region.


Alternative Titles
Beyân-ı Menâzil-i Sefer-i Irâkeyn-i Sultân Süleymân Hân
Kitab-ı Tevarih-i Al-i Osman
Size / Format
109 folios / 31.5 × 23.0 cm
107 miniatures
Account of the stages of Sultan Süleyman Khan’s Iraqi campaign
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Yıldiz Palace Library

Available facsimile editions:
Menazilname – MASA – T5964 – İstanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphane (Istanbul, Turkey)
MASA – Istanbul, 2015
Limited Edition: 3000 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beyân-ı Menâzil-i Sefer-i Irâkeyn-i Sultân Süleymân Hân

MASA – Istanbul, 2015

Publisher: MASA – Istanbul, 2015
Limited Edition: 3000 copies
Binding: Maroon cover with gold tooling
Commentary: 1 volume by Nurhan Atasoy, Seyit Ali Kahraman, and Deniz Ruşen
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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