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Ottoman Geography: المدخل في الجغرفيا [El-Medhal fî’l-Coğrafya / Introduction to Geography]



First popular Ottoman book on modern geography and survey


8°. 88 pp., 8 folding plates, original binding with marbled paper covers and brown cloth spine (minor staining, sporadic old annotations and underlined words, old manuscript mathematical drawing in black ink on the inner side of the front cover, binding slightly rubbed mostly around the spine with loss of cloth).


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This Ottoman book on the basics of modern geography, survey and map making was the first popular publication on this subject. It includes images representing basic trigonometry, symbols for map-making, images of the solar system and astronomy.

Hüseyin Rıfkı Tamani (1750 – 1817) was one of the founders of the Mühendislikhane-i Berrî-i Hümâyûn, a military engineering school, and the head teacher at the institution between 1910 and 1916.

Hüseyin Rıfkı was heavily influenced by the Western sciences. In 1903, he moved to London, where he learned English and studied latest works published on the subject of science. Upon his return to Istanbul, Hüseyin authored several pioneering Ottoman works on mathematics and engineering and translated contemporary western text on the subject.

Six editions of this highly popular work were published in Ottoman between circa 1831 and 1876 (1247 and 1292 AH). This is a second corrected and enlarged edition, with 8 folding plates bound at the end of the text, as the 1831 edition only included 4. This text was, according to the imprint on the back page, edited in 1829 (1246 AH) and was published for the first time a year later.

We could only find one example of this edition on Worldcat (University of California, Los Angeles).

References: MİL – ÖZEGE; 12658 – TBTK; 14353. Fatma ÖZDEMİR, Coğrafya alaninda hazirlanmiş resimli ilk matbu kitaplar ve resimlerinin incelenmesi, The First Printed Books with Pictures Prepared in the Field of Geography and Examining Their Pictures, Çukurova Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 2020, 20 / 2, pp. 509-534, no. 3.

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