A scarce large colour map of the Middle East with th eArabian Peninsula, Egypt, Turkey, Levant, Iran and Eastern Africa from Yeñi coġrafya aṭlası – the first lithographed Folio Atlas in the Muslim World.
ىگى جغرافىا آطلسى [Yeñi coġrafya aṭlası / The New Geographic Atlas] was the first lithographed folio atlas in the Muslim world. Published by the Istanbul press Matbaa-i Amire, it is an excellent result of the influence of French cartography on the Ottoman World and it included 42 double-page chromolithographed maps, dated between 1307 and 1311 AH / 1891-1895. The maps are based on the contemporary French cartography.
Printed between 1307 and 1311 AH (1891-1895 AD), as dated in the cartouches, the information on the maps does not entirely match neither the index on the back cover (listing only 40 maps) neither the date on the cover 1307-1309 AH (1891-1893 AD), which indicates, that this atlas was a long-term and probably partly improvised project. Maps were possibly also sold separately to raise money, as we have encountered maps from this series which were probably never bound.
Ali Şeref Paşa – The Pioneer of the Modern Ottoman Cartography
The author Ali Şeref Paşa (also Hafız Ali Eşref) was a soldier and map-maker, who was sent by the Ottoman government around 1862 to Paris, with a goal to learn the skills of the modern cartography and the technique of modern lithography in colour.
In 1869, Ali, when still a student in Paris, published his first atlas, Yeni Atlas or the New Atlas (signed on the maps as Hafız Ali Eşref). This work with 22 maps in folio format, lithographed in bright colours, with decorative Ottoman lettering, is the first modern Ottoman lithographed atlas and together with its printing technique a foundation for all the Ottoman atlases following.
Upon his return to Istanbul, Ali Şeref Paşa became a chief cartographer at the Matbaa-i Amire, a printing press in Beyazit, which was the successor of the Müteferrika press from 1727. Ali introduced lithograph as a printing technique for cartographic sources to Istanbul and in the following years commissioned a series of maps in folio format, which were issued in another large format atlas ىگى جغرافىا آطلسى (Yeñi coġrafya aṭlası / The New Geographic Atlas), making his Paris-based knowledge available in the Ottoman Empire.
Ali Şeref Paşa’s most famous late project was a 100 sheet map of Anatolia, which he based on the Heinrich Kiepert’s map of the same area. When Ali died in 1907, the project remained unfinished. Separate sheets of the wall map were sold and today scarcely appear on the market.
Ali Şeref Paşa or Hafız Ali Eşref
Ali Şeref Paşa, who is in our atlas signed in the texts in the cartouches, is possibly identical with another Ottoman cartographer Hafız Ali Eşref, as signed in the Paris published Yeni Atlas.
Until the surname law adopted on June 21, 1934 Turks did not have surnames. They were born with one first name and were until the adulthood described only as sons or daughters of their parent’s names. Later they were given titles such as Effendi (Sir), Bey (Chief) or Hanım (Madam) for higher classes, or they were given names according to their work or class. The names were not inherited by children until 1934, when the surname law was enforced.
The map maker Ali with years received names Şeref, the honourable, and Paşa, the dignitary. He was also known as Hafız, the memorizer of Qur’an, and Eşref, proud. So Ali Şeref Paşa would have a meaning of Honourable Dignitary Ali, and Hafız Ali Eşref, Memorizer of Qur’an Proud Ali. The names Şeref and Eşref are both based on the same Arabic three letter root.
Darüttıbaa – Matbaa-i Amire Printing Press
The first press in the Muslim world, called Darüttıbaa, was founded in Istanbul by İbrahim Müteferrika in 1727, with a permission of Sultan Ahmet III. It was located in Müteferrika’s house. The first book was published in 1729 and until 1742 sixteen other works followed.
After Müteferrika’s death the press was suppressed for printing, as printed books were considered dangerous.
In 1796 the press was purchased by the government and moved to Üsküdar in Istanbul, and in 1831 finally to Beyazit, where it was renamed to Matbaa-i Amire in 1866.
The press was closed in 1901 and was reopened in 1908 under the name Millî. In 1927 the name changed to State Printing House. The press still exists and is known for publishing school and educational books.
References: Osmanlı coğrafya literatürü tarihi. History of Geographical Literature during the Ottoman Period, 2000, pp. 378, 380.