A rare lithographed book in Ottoman language represents the genealogy from Adam, Muhammad, Four Caliphs, Abbasid caliphs, Turkish and Mongolian rulers, to Great Seljuk and Anatolian Seljuk sultans. The work finishes with a portrait of the Ottoman sultan Abdulmejid I (1823 –1861).
The leaders 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
Not much is known about this lithographed version of Sübhatü’l-ahbâr, possibly because of lack of researches on the underappreciated field of illustrated lithographed books in the Ottoman Empire. This is the second edition. The first exceedingly rare edition without a date was according to Özege published on 40 pages. We could not find any examples of the first edition nor any other references to it.
The book was printed by Hüseyin Efendi Litoğrafya Destgâhı in Vezir Hanı in Istanbul. The author and editor of a modernised content of Mehmed bin Shah Ramazan’s version was Ahmed Kemal Efendi, who is mentioned in the imprint as deceased by 1872, when the book was published.
We could assume, that Ahmed Kemal was the author of the first, possibly unfinished edition, which was made more than a decade earlier, before the death of Abdulmejid I, who appears as last of the sultans in the chain of portraits. This second edition was according to the imprint on the back completed by Hâfız Abdüllatif Efendi, a teacher by profession.
Hâfız Abdüllatif from Edrine was an educator and author in the late Ottoman empire. He is known for his book on dreams Hâb-nâme-i Latif.
The book is very rare. We could find two institutional copies on Worldcat (Princeton University Library & University of Pennsylvania Libraries).
References: AEKMK – ÖZEGE; 18420 – TBTK; 1579. OCLC 883892810.