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[Nukhbat al-talim. Tabur talimi also Nuhbetü’t-talim. Tabur Talimi / The Elite Education. Education for Battalions]


8°, [1] title page, 13 pp., 79 numbered lithographed plates contemporary binding with marbled boards, calf spine with gilt decoration, lettering and ornaments from original wrappers mounted on boards (binding with rubbed spots, spine with small cracks and chips, ca 10 tiny wormholes throughout all the book, otherwise a good clean example).


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A rare book in Ottoman language on the military training, titled Nuhbetü’t-talim [The Elite Education], issued in Istanbul in 1831, is the first lithographed book made in this political and cultural center of the Ottoman Empire. The elegant Ottoman lettering is lithographed on highly decorative smooth paper and our example is bound in contemporary binding with pasted-on parts of the original wrappers. The book was contemporary lithographed in three versions: on white, blue and pink paper.

The book was published in a newly established lithographic office on the premises of the Ministry of War in Istanbul, under the patronage of an admiral and statesman Koca Hüsrev Mehmed Pasha (1769 – 1855). In 1826, Hüsrev Pasha played a vital row in the disbandment of the Jannissary corps (the Auspicious Incident) and in the formation of the new Ottoman army, a so called Mansure army, based on the modern European examples.

With a goal to modernize the new Ottoman army, Hüsrev Pasha assembled a staff of foreign advisors and experts. A part of this new program was also a military press, which would produce manuals and illustrated books for the education of the Ottoman officers.

Hoca Hüsrev Pasha, with no doubt under advice of the central European stuff, decided to introduce to Istanbul a press with a relatively new printing technique of lithography, until then practically unknown in the Ottoman Empire.

Lithography in Istanbul

Lithography was introduced to the Islamic World in the second and third decade of the 19th century. Although much more appropriate for reproducing a hand-written text and calligraphy of the Arabic script than movable type, lithography was often frowned upon as a cheap technique, and was only slowly replacing the letterpress.

Possibly the first press to introduce lithography to the Islamic world was the Bulaq press in Egypt, under the influence from France and Italy. The first mentioning of a lithographic workshop at the Bulaq press in Egypt is that by an American traveller G. B. English, who saw a lithographed newspaper in Italian and Arabic, made by the School of Engineering in 1822 (A Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar, London 1822, p. viii. In: Hsu Cheng Hsiang, The first Thirty Years of Arabic Printing in Egypt 1238-1267, 1822-1851, p. 57).
Books, made in the early years of the Bulaq press, would often use the technology of lithograph for illustrations in printed books on the subjects of the military science and mathematics. The first known lithographed book, issued other than the Bulaq press, was made in 1832 at the School of Medicine in Cairo (established in 1827).

The first lithographic press in Persia was brought from Tiflis in 1821, but the first recorded book, The Quran, was only published in 1832/1833.

The first Muslim books, produced in the technique of lithography in Asia, were published in India under the influence of East India Company, who brought lithographic presses there in 1823, yet the first book was not issued until 1827.

In Istanbul, Hüsrev Pasha’s lithographic press at the Ministry of War from 1831, with its first book produced in the same year, was one of the first functional lithographic presses in the Islamic World, after the Bulaq (1822) and Indian presses (1827).

The new Pasha’s printer and lithographer was Henri Cayol, a lawyer from Marseille, who opened the lithographic press together with his cousin Jacques Cayol. The modern printing equipment was imported from Paris.

The lithographic press was running in the building of the Ministry of War from 1831, when they published this first book, titled Nukhbat al-talim [The Elite Education], with 79 charts representing for training the battalions, to 1836, when Hürsev Pasha was removed from the office. During these 5 years, 50 soldiers were trained by Cayol at the press to learn the technique of lithography.

In 1836, Henri Cayol, still under Hürsev Pasha’s wing, opened a lithographic press near the French Embassy, where he worked until his death from cholera in 1865. Cayol’s work was continued by his apprentice Antonije Zelić, a Croatian, born in Brela, Dalmatia in 1820, who moved to Istanbul 1840 for economic reasons. After learning the craft of lithography from his teacher, Zelić opened his own shop in 1855.

The lithography in Istanbul was scarce and expensive to make, as the stones had to be imported until 1892, when they discovered appropriate stone south of Istanbul. More common, especially for the religious prints was much cheaper photolithography.
All the books from the Cayol’s press at the Ottoman Ministry of War are rare. We could not trace any examples of this title on Worldcat.

We could only trace one example on Worldcat (Boğaziçi University Library, Istanbul).

References: OCLC 949511219; ÖZEGE 15556.Cf.: Selim Nüzhet Gerçek, Türk Taş basmacılığı, [Ankara]: Maarif Vekaleti, 1939. Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1989, p. 802.

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