Waqf manuscript from the Great Mosque of Erzurum

[Erzurum - Ulu Camii Mosque]. Arabic manuscript on polished paper.

Arzu'r-Rum (Erzurum), [1650 CE] = first days of Muharram 1060 H.

Tall 4to (183 x 305 mm). 61 unnumbered ff. Complete Arabic manuscript with two intercalated sections (ff. 18v-23r, 53r-57r) in Ottoman Turkish. Page layout carefully organized; writing luxuriantly penned in an elegant hybrid style mixing tulut and tawqi, associated with manuscripts of highly dignified content or commissioned by a wealthy patron. Black ink, 9 lines per extensum within a gilt "gadwal" border. With a brightly coloured "sarlawh" headpiece (f. 3v) of illuminated bulb-shaped forms in gold, pink and light green, with vegetal twists unfolding on a bright blue background veined with green stems and dotted by reddish and golden buds. Contemporary giltstamped calf binding with fore-edge flap (repaired).


A finely preserved manuscript comprising "'arqam" (official notes) related to the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii) of Erzurum in Eastern Turkey, occasioned by the successful completion of major restoration work begun in 1639 CE under the appointed local governor Hüseyn Pasha. The opening pages of the manuscript contain a summary of "the estates depending on the complex of the mosque", followed by a catalogue of places, buildings or factories belonging to or administrated by it, such as a "masbaga" (dye-works), a "mamlaha" (saltern), a "madbaga" (tannery, here given with the Turkish translation of the term, "bi't-Turki debag-hana"), etc. Leaf 2r lists both the Great Mosque's officials and contractors or stipendiaries, along with their respective wages ("li'l-mudarris asarat darahim fi kull yawm" - "to the principal of the madrasa: ten dirhams a day"; "li-'l waiz saba darahim fi kull yawm" - "to the (official) preacher of the Mosque: six dirhams a day"; to the first Imam of the Mosque four dirhams a day, etc.). The remainder of the text sets out detailed accounts for the summarized information, but also includes liturgical exaltations of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, praised in eulogies derived from the Koran and Sunan.

Dated separately twice: first in Arabic, in the final three text lines of the Turkish section of f. 23v ("the first days [i.e. 1st-10th] of the month of Du'l-Higga of the Islamic year 1058", i.e., between 17 and 26 December 1648 CE); then at the end, last four lines of f. 60r, stating that the manuscript was completed on "the first days of the sacred month of Muharram of the year 1060" H (i.e., between 4 and 13 January 1650 CE).

A well-preserved, complete 17th century manuscript drawn up for the recently restored Erzurum Mosque and its extensive appurtenances, likely also in recognition of their status of inalienability, i.e. the establishment of an Islamic waqf, or mortmain regime. Thus, the manuscript records the administration of the mosque in both legal and religious terms, in accordance with the Sunni law of the Ottoman Empire.

Art.-Nr.: BN#29600 Schlagwörter: , , , ,