CEMAL BEY (Senior Ottoman Naval Officer).
رهبر بحر احمر [“Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer” / “The Guide to the Red Sea”].
Small 4° (25 x 17.5 cm): , 616 pp. in reverse collation, manuscript, written in Ottoman Turkish in a neat hand in thick black ink; bound in contemporary full red silk with elaborate gilt designs, Ottoman arms to front cover, title within vignette to back cover (Internally clean, crisp and bright, just a few light stains; binding heavily worn but still holding strong); plus 2 additional items found tipped into the back cover: first, is an original photograph of Cemal Bey in naval uniform, measuring 20 x 10.5 cm (irregular size); second is a ‘Carte Postale’ bearing Cemal Bey’s portrait in old age, with a later manuscript inscription, measuring 14 x 9 cm; all housed within a modern custom full dark green calf clamshell box, one panel featuring a glass window, gilt title to spine.
CEMAL BEY and TEVFIK BEY.
رهبر بحر احمر [Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer / The Guide to the Red Sea].
Istanbul: İstepan Matbaası, 1307 .
Small 4° (21.5 x 15 cm): vi, 459 pp., , in reverse collation, contemporary endpapers; bound in contemporary half-calf with marbled boards, gilt title and decoration to spine; inscribed and signed in manuscript by the co-author Cemal Bey on verso of title (Internally, some light staining and browning especially to early and latter leaves; early leaves creased at upper outer corners, some leaves with trimmed outer corners not affecting text, small tear to upper margin of first leaf with no loss; small tear to lower margin of second leaf with no loss, leaf of pp. 111/2 with horizontal tear entering text with no loss; leaf of pp. 425/6 with tear near gutter entering text but no loss, final leaf creased and torn at gutter with no loss; binding rubbed and worn especially at edges, with loss to upper-outer corner of verso and upper-outer corner of front cover slightly loose, abrasion to front cover).
HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE (BRITISH ADMIRALTY).
The Red Sea Pilot. From Suez and from ʻAkabah to the Straits of Báb-El-Mandeb, and the Arabian Coast thence to ʻAden; with Directions for the Navigation of the Suez Canal. Second Edition.
London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for the Hydrographic Office, Admiralty, 1873.
8° (24 x 15 cm): viii, 255 pp., original light red cloth, gilt title to front cover and spine (Very Good, internally clean and crisp, just some light toning to endpapers, contemporary seller’s blindstamp of ‘Philip, Son & Nephew’ to front endpaper; spine faded).
This is a highly important and unique assemblage of three works. Object A is the original manuscript of the first modern Ottoman pilot guide to the Red Sea. Commissioned by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, it was written by Captain Cemal Bey, who later served as the ‘Bahr-i Ahmer Komodoru’ (the Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Navy in the Red Sea) and is based upon the British Admiralty’s The Red Sea Pilot. Object B is the extremely rare printed version of the pilot based upon the present manuscript, published in Istanbul in 1891, it is faithful in its content to its antecedent save that it credits Cemal’s associate Tevfik Bey as the co-author and is augmented by an additional chapter on navigating the Suez Canal, translated from the writings of Ferdinand de Lesseps. The present example is signed and inscribed in manuscript by Cemal Bey. Object C is the very rare second edition of the British Admiralty’s The Red Sea Pilot, the first modern and comprehensive navigational guide to the Red Sea, and the inspiration for Cemal Bey’s work.
Object A: Captain Cemal Bey’s Manuscript “Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer” in Focus
This is the original manuscript of the first modern Ottoman pilot guide of the Red Sea and the Yemeni coast along the Gulf of Aden, authored by Cemal Bey, then a corvette captain in the Ottoman Navy, who later rose to become the ‘Bahr-i Ahmer Komodoru’ (Red Sea Commodore), the Commander-in-Chief of the Sultan’s navy in the Red Sea. Written in a neat hand entirely in Ottoman Turkish, it is bound in a fine red silk biding with elaborate guilt tooling. The manuscript is the basis for the first printed Ottoman pilot of the Red Sea, Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer (Istanbul: İstepan Matbaası, 1307 ), which is credited as being authored by Captain Cemal Bey and his colleague, Lieutenant Tevfik Bey (refer to Object B following).
Importantly, the “Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer” was an imperial commission. It is noted in the Introduction of the 1307 (1891) printed version, it is noted that Sultan Abdul Hamid II (reigned 1876 – 1909) charged Cemal Bey with creating the ‘Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer’. This is significant, but not surprising, as Abdul Hamid II was known for his exceptional interest in the Red Sea region, especially as it anchored his sovereignty over Mecca and Medina, underpinning his role as the Caliph of Islam. In practical terms, Abdul Hamid II ordered the expansion of the Ottoman Navy in the Red Sea; spearhead the construction of the Hejaz Railway from Damascus to Medina (completed 1908); and supported the lengthy war against the Zaidi uprising in Yemen. The Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer was thus intended to be a critical tool for Ottoman mariners in the quest to maintain the Sublime Porte’s authority in the Red Sea region.
Importantly, we are not aware of any other contemporary manuscript examples of Cemal Bey’s Red Sea pilot. The present manuscript is clearly Cemal Bey’s personal fine copy used as the basis for the printed version. Evidence suggests that the manuscript was retained for some years thereafter by the author and his family (please refer to the photograph and the ‘Carte Postale’ discussed following).
The text of Cemal Bey’s manuscript is a faithful translation of the British Admiralty’s The Red Sea Pilot (first issued London by the Hydrographic Office in 1873 but updated in several subsequent issues); the seminal work on maritime navigation in the Red Sea-Yemen region. It seems that Cemal Bey (assisted by his first officer, Lieutenant Tewfik Bey) perhaps used the 1883 third edition of the The Red Sea Pilot as their source for their translation, as the footnotes differ from that of the 1873 second edition (refer to Object C).
Cemal Bey’s manuscript commences with his introduction, noting his experiences in the Ottoman Navy. It then launches into the navigational content, proceeding to describe every major harbour, shipping lane, as well as hazards in the Red Sea and the coasts of Yemen along the Gulf of Aden. First off is a description of the principal central shipping route from the Suez Canal down the length of the Red Sea past the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, noting such hazardous passages as the Strait of Jubla (p. 26) and Zuquar Island (p. 31). Later are notable passages on the Suwakin Archipelago (p. 186); Novarat and the Bab-el-Mandeb (p. 215); and the Sinai and the Gulf of Aqaba (p. 333).
Of particular importance is a lengthy section on the harbour of Jeddah and its nearby coasts (pp. 406 – 428), being home to the main Ottoman naval base in the Red Sea, as well as the maritime gateway towards Mecca and the Hajj.
Towards the conclusion of the work is a table (pp. 593-4) noting geodetic coordinates and observations for 17 major harbours, waypoints and navigation hazards in the Red Sea and Yemen, including Port Suez; Zafarana; Ras Gharib; El Tor (Sinai); St. Catherine’s Monastery (in the interior of the Sinai); Abu Radis (Sinai); Ras Muhammed; Shedwan Island (off Hurghada); Jitfun Island (off Hughada); Sofaga; Al Qoseir; Al Ikwhan Island (a navigational hazard in middle of Red Sea off El Qosair); Jeddah; Massawa; Zuquar / Abu Ali Islands (navigational hazard); Mokka; as well as key waypoint in Yemen between Al Bahriyeh and Qawah.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 suddenly transformed the Red Sea into one of the world’s busiest and geo-strategically important shipping lanes. This event posed a grave threat to the Ottoman Empire, which was already struggling to maintain its possessions in the region. Crucially, the Sultan felt an imperative to preserve his sovereignty over Hejaz, including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, which anchored his claim to be the Caliph of Islam. To shore up the Ottoman presence on the Arabian side of the sea, the Ottomans established a major permanent naval based at Jeddah and mounted a full- scale invasion of North Yemen in 1872. However, Britain’s move to make Aden a protectorate in 1874 and Egypt a protectorate in 1882, as well as Italy’s invasion of Eritrea in the 1880s represented a heightened challenged to Ottoman interests. Moreover, fierce local resistance to Ottoman rule in Yemen and Asir tied down the Sublime Porte’s over-stretched military.
While the Ottoman Navy was manned by many mariners who possessed a good working knowledge of many of the Red Sea’s ports, its operations were often hindered by the lack of a modern, scientifically accurate pilot guide written in Ottoman Turkish.
In 1885, Cemal Bey, while serving as the yüzbaşı (captain) of the Ottoman corvette Muzzafer (Victorious), based at Jeddah, endeavoured to ameliorate the situation. Evidently with assistance of his second-in-command, Lieutenant Tevfik Bey, he set about translating sections from the British Admiralty’s Red Sea Pilot into Ottoman Turkish, while adding his own interpretation and observations to create the present manuscript, which on the final page is noted as having been completed off Jeddah in 1889.
The manuscript then seems to have been dispatched to Istanbul to be bound in the present fine silk binding, while the official Ottoman censure’s stamp, authorizing the work to be published appears on the final page (this stamp allowed the printed version to be issued in Istanbul in 1891). Notably, Tevfik Bey is not mentioned as being the co-author/translator in the present manuscript; however, he is credited as such in the subsequent printed version (Object B).
Cemal Bey’s Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer would have been vitally useful to Ottoman officers over the succeeding generation as the navy supported major army operations towards subduing the Idrisi insurrection in Asir and the Zaidi Rebellion in Yemen, as well as facilitating its continuous operations against smuggling and slave trading throughout the Red Sea.
Notably, Cemal Bey was subsequently promoted with the post of Bahr-i Ahmer Komodoru (Red Sea Commodore), the chief Ottoman naval officer in the Red Sea. In this role, in 1909-10, Cemal Bey gained great acclaim across the empire for his brilliant efforts in supporting Ferik Yusuf Pasha’s campaign against the Idrisi insurgency in Asir (For further information on Cemal Bey’s exploits in the Red Sea, as well as references to the printed version of the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer, please see: Mehmet Korkmaz, ‘20. Yüzyıl Başlarında Kızıldeniz’de Osmanlı Denizcilik Faaliyetleri’ (Ph.D. Dissertation, Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi, 2012)).
Additionally, the present manuscript is accompanied by two pieces bearing images of the author. First, is an original photograph of Cemal Bey wearing his naval uniform, taken perhaps around the time that he produced the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer. Second, is a ‘Carte Postale’ bearing Cemal Bey’s portrait in old age, seemingly after his retirement, labelled in pen in Latin script “Cemal Bey Zehra Hanım babası” (Cemal Bey, Miss Zehra’s Father). As well as being intriguing artefacts that enrich the manuscript, placing it within its greater historical context, the photograph and post card weaves added personal connections to Cemal Bey, indicating that the manuscript was retained by Cemal Bey and his family for some decades after the printed edition was brought to press.
References: Present manuscript seemingly not recorded.
Object B: The Printed Edition of the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer in Focus
This is an example of the extremely rare, printed edition of Cemal Bey and Tevfik Bey’s Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer (Istanbul: İstepan Matbaası, 1307 ). Importantly, this example is inscribed and signed in manuscript by Cemal Bey on a pastedown dedication the verso of the title, which reads:
“I have finished, what his excellency Fethi Bey Efendi wrote in his royal letter and in the name of the caliph Abdul Hamid, and what the sultan commissioned Kaymakam.
Thus, the inscription reveals that Abdul Hamid II’s command to create the the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer came via a letter to Cemal Bey from Fethi Bey Effendi, a senior Ottoman official, to whom this example is inscribed. We could not find much biographical information about Fethi Bey Effendi, although he is mentioned in contemporary salnames as senior bureaucrat at the Sublime Porte.
The printed edition is generally faithful in its content to the manuscript (Object A), and up to page 424 it features the complete text almost verbatim as that of the manuscript, save for some very minor editorial revisions, and the appropriate omission of the content of the manuscript’s final page (where Cemal Bey’s notes the place and date of the manuscript’s production, along with the Ottoman censor’s printing privilege stamp).
Beyond that, however, the printed edition features two notable differences.
First, unlike the manuscript, Tevfik Bey, Cemal’s lieutenant on the Muzzafer corvette, is credited as being the co-author. Indeed, Tevfik clearly went to great effort translating text and interpreting the sources, and evidently Cemal Bey decided that he deserved the appropriate recognition in the published, and therefore public, version of the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer.
Second, the printed edition is augmented by an additional chapter that follows the conclusion of the text copied from manuscript (on pages 425 to 459). Interestingly, this section is translated into Ottoman Turkish from the writings of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the creator of the Suez Canal, and is a detailed guide for how to sail through the canal. It notes all technical procedures and protocols and is illustrated by two pages of navigational signals. This is a valuable addition to the pilot, concerning the world’s most strategically important transport corridor, conveying the words of the ultimate authority, Monsieur de Lesseps.
The printed edition of the Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer is extensively cited in specialist Turkish academic literature regarding Ottoman maritime navigation and the history of the Red Sea.
The printed edition of Cemal Bey and Tevfik Bey’s Rehber-i Bahr-i Ahmer was issued in only a single printing and is today extremely rare. It was apparently issued in only a very small print run for use by senior Ottoman naval officers and officials, and indeed many of these examples would have perished due to heavy use at sea.
We can trace only two institutional examples, held by the Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (Grand National Assembly of Turkey Library, Ankara) and the Princeton University Library. Moreover, we are not aware of any other examples as having appeared on the market.
References: ÖZEGE, no. 16571; Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM): [Grand National Assembly of Turkey Library]: 71001136; Princeton University Library: VK895 .R43 / OCLC: 25346094; İslâm Tarih, Sanat ve Kültür Araştırma Merkezi (IRCICA), Osmanlı coğrafya literatürü tarihi [History of Geographical Literature during the Ottoman Period] (Istanbul, 2000), pp. lxiii and 268; Mehmet KORKMAZ, ‘20. Yüzyıl Başlarında Kızıldeniz’de Osmanlı Denizcilik Faaliyetleri’ [Ottoman Maritime Activities in the Red Sea at the Beginning of the 20th Century] (Ph.D. Dissertation, Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi, 2012), passim; Cevat ÜLKEKUL, Türk Seyir, Hidrografi ve Oşinografi çalişmalarının 1909 öncesi tarihi [History of Turkish Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography studies before 1909] (Istanbul, 2009), pp. 92-5.
Object C: The Admiralty’s The Red Sea Pilot in Focus
Upon the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the Red Sea suddenly became one the world’s most important shipping lanes, the veritable nexus between East and West. However, navigation through the canal and the Red Sea was hindered by the lack of a comprehensive guide with sailing directions through the route’s central passage and well as access to the region’s main ports.
The Admiralty commissioned The Red Sea Pilot, the first edition of which was published by the Hydrographic Office early in 1873. The present example is of the second edition, published the same year as the first.
The ‘Advertisement’ at the opening the present edition, dated May 1873, states that “The Red Sea Pilot comprises the directions for the navigation of the central Channel, and both coasts, from Suez and from ‘Akabah to the Straits of Báb-el-Mandeb, as also the coast of Arabia extending then to ‘Aden”.
The work was compiled by Staff Commander John Cummins Richards, predicated mainly on the sailing directions by Commanders Robert Moresby and Thomas Elwon, of the Indian Navy, published in 1841, but updated by intelligence from George S. Nares’s 1872-3 surveys of the Gulf of Suez and the west coast of the Red Sea.
The book is divided into several coherent sections, as follows: Chapter I: The Central Channel from Suez to the Straits of Báb-el-Mandeb; Chapter II: Gulf of Suez; Chapter III: West Coast from Jifrátin Islands to Khôr Nowárát; Chapter IV: West Coast from Khôr Nowárát to Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb; Chapter V: East Coast from Rás Muhammed to Jiddah, including the Gulf of ‘Akabah; Chapter VI: Coast from Jiddah to Kamarán Bay; Chapter VII: The East Coast form Kamarán Bay to Straits of Báb-el-Mandeb, including the South Coast of Arabia from Cape Báb-el-Mandeb to ‘Aden. Additionally, there is a ‘Table of Positions’ with the geodetic coordinates of key locations, as well as a ‘Tide Table’, referencing various locations. The work concludes with Appendix I: The Suez Canal, with Directions for its Pilotage; and Appendix II, being a glossary of Arabic terms and pronunciation.
The Red Sea Pilot was reissued in regularly updated editions and remained the most authoritative guide to the Red Sea and the Yemen Coast for three generations.
All early editions of The Red Sea Pilot are extremely rare. We can trace only 2 institutional examples of the present second edition, held by the British Library and New York Public Library. It is worth nothing that we can trace only a single institutional example of the first edition, published the same year as the second, held by the New York Public Library.
References: British Library: 10496.gg.31.; New York Public Library: KAKK (Great Britain. Hydrographic office. Red Sea pilot. 1873. (ed. 2)); OCLC: 57334668 / 37316214.