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سبحة الأخبار من زبدة الاثار [Sübhatü’l-ahbâr min Zübdetü’l-âsâr / The Rosary of the Times]



A rare first lithographed edition of a genealogy, starting with Adam, to Muhammad, Four Caliphs, Abbasid caliphs, Turkish and Mongolian rulers, Great Seljuk and finishing with the last Ottoman Sultan.


4°. 40 pp. lithographed with illustrations, recent three quarter Bordeaux calf with gilt decoration and grey cloth boards, recent printed marbled papers (miniature Ottoman annotations in red ink, old owner’s signature on the bottom of the title page, white margin on the last sheet trimmed, otherwise in a good condition).


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A rare first lithographed edition of Sübhet ül-ahbar or the Rosary of the Times representing the genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and to the Ottoman Sultans of the early 19th century

The protagonists are represented with portraits, with exceptions of Muhammad and some earlier rulers. The names and portraits are placed in medallions, which are connected in decorative beads-like formations, giving the work an appropriate name Sübhatü’l-ahbâr or The Beads of History (or The Rosary of the Times, lit. The Beads of News).

History of Sübhatü’l-ahbâr

The origins of the work go back to the time of Suleyman the Great, in the 16th century, when Dervish Mehmed the son of Şah (Şeyh) Ramazan or Mahmud ibn Şeyh Ramaḍan created a more than 20 meters long scroll with genealogies from Adam through Muhammad to the current sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The names were represented with connected medallions, some of them with inserted portraits.

In the next centuries under the other sultans, the work was copied and enlarged in the forms of manuscript books.

Today the most beautiful manuscript copies survive in the museum of Topkapı Palaca in Istanbul and in the National Library of Vienna (COD.AF, nr. 50). The latter comes from the collection of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who probably came into possession of the book at the Siege of Petrovaradin in 1716.

The Lithographed Edition

This is the exceedingly rare first printed edition without a date or the name of the publisher.

Not much is known about this edition of Sübhatü’l-ahbâr, possibly because of lack of researches on the so far underappreciated field of illustrated lithographed books in the Ottoman Empire.

The last two portraits are dated with 1241 (1825), suggesting, that the book was based on a manuscript from around that time.

The author and editor of this modernized content of Mehmed bin Shah Ramazan’s version was Ahmed Kemal Efendi, who is mentioned in the imprint of the second edition as deceased by 1872.

This very rare first edition differs from more common second one by high quality of paper and fine lithography. The second edition finishes with an additional e portrait of Abdulmejid I, not present in the first version.

The book is very rare. We could trace 2 examples in the institutions, listed on Worldcat (Hungarian Academy of Sciences Library, Princeton University Library).

References: ÖZEGE 18420; OCLC 1132594677.

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