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GERMAN ORIENTALISTS – KARL SÜSSHEIM: العراضة فى الحكاية السلجوقية



[al-`Urāḍa fī l-ḥikāya al-salğūqīya / The Gift from the History of the Seljuks / Das Greschenk aus der Saldschukengeschichte]


A rare first printed publication of an important 14th century historical work on the Seljuk Dynasty, written in Farsi, was a groundbreaking work of a German famous orientalist Karl Süssheim, which gained him a professorship at the University of Munich. It was published during his short staying in Cairo in 1908 to avoid the censorship and was his first major project.


8°, 45 pp., 191 pp., later brown cloth binding with gilt lettering (4 pages with trimmed outer white margins, tiny tears and soft folds on the title page repaired with paper from trimmed margins, title page slightly stained with old names in Arabic letters in brown ink and a taxation stamp, old price written on the inner side of the rear cover, otherwise in a good condition).


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The book, published in Farsi in Cairo in 1908, is the first printed edition of a detailed chronicle of the Seljuk Dynasty, written in 1311 by Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Abdullah Ibn Nizam Al-Husseini Al-Yazdi. The editor and author of the introduction was Karl Süssheim (1878-1947), a German orientalist, who composed and edited the text from two manuscripts by Ibn Nizam, held in Paris and at the British Museum. The project was commissioned by the Ottoman government, but Süssheim was forced to retreat to Cairo after the Ottoman censorship started intervening into the project.

The uncensored book was published during Karl Süssheim’s short staying in Cairo and was his first major project..

Karl Süssheim was born in Kronach in Bavaria to Jewish parents and studied in Munich, Jena, Erlangen and Berlin. In 1902 he moved to Istanbul to pursue his studies of Oriental languages. Fluent in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic and Farsi, he occasionally worked as a translator at the German Embassy in Istanbul. Also later in his life he often worked as an interpreter at the diplomatic meetings in Germany.

In 1911, he presented a dissertation on the Persian manuscript from the British Museum, which was a source for our book, with a title  Prolegomena zu einer Ausgabe der im Britischen Museum zu London verwahrten Chronik des seldschukischen Reiches at the Munich university, where he continued working as a professor until 1933, when he was removed by the new Nazi regime due to his Jewish background. He was briefly imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp in 1938 and escaped to Turkey in 1941 through his old connections in the country.

During and after the war Süssheim worked at the Istanbul University. He died in 1947 and is buried at the Ortakoy Jewish cemetery in Istanbul.

Süssheim published a German translation of this Farsi work a year later, in 1909, under the title Geschenk aus der Saldschukengeschichte.


Worldcat lists three institutional examples (The National Library of Israel, Bavarian State Library, Universitätsbibliothek München).

References: OCLC 235980732 or 713381003, 217618677.

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