Ottoman Book Culture : Bahāristān-i Jāmī

Jāmī, 1414-1492

Ottoman Book Culture

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The Timurid court poet and renowned Sufi ‘Abd al-Raḥman Jāmī (1414–1492) originally composed the Bahāristān (Spring Garden) in 892 AH (1487 CE). Modelled upon the <i>Gulistān</i> (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī, the work is divided into eight chapters or 'gardens' (<i>rawżah</i>). The first discusses Sufi saints and philosophers, then the topics of justice, generosity, love, and comedy, a highly esteemed section on poetic literature, followed by the last regarding animals.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript was completed in 903 AH (1498 CE)—just eleven years after the original—and it is the earliest of several copies held in the John Rylands Library. It opens with a pair of elegantly illuminated roundels, the first praising the work and the author, while the second names the patron who commissioned it as Fāiḳ Pāşā. He is very likely a little-known Ottoman vizier appointed late in the second reign of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444–1446; 1551–1581) into that of his son and successor Sultan Beyazid II (r. 1481–1512). The roundel text praises an <i>imaret</i> and offers a prayer for the longevity of its buildings. The phrasing suggests that it was copied for a pious charitable building complex that Fāiḳ Pāşā commenced constructing in 898 AH (1492–93 CE), in Narda (now Árta, Greece), of which a mosque still survives today.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The volume was magnificently rebound in an Islamic-inspired style but using European methods, probably for subsequent owner French orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) in Paris; however, it still retains a late Ottoman period protective leather pouch that is lavishly embroidered with silver and silk threads.</p>

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