The introduction of electricity to the Islamic world: the earliest surviving manuscript

Yahya Naci Efendi. [Introducing electricity through experiments].

Constantinople, [1812 CE] = 1227 H.

8vo (222 x 150 mm). 16 ff., mostly with 24 text lines to each page (text area 155 x 70 mm). Written in excellent Naskh script with black ink on waxed paper. Headings and highlighted words in red. Two (folded) plates on velin paper (watermark: A. Stace 1802). With carefully executed pen-and-ink drawings with notes in red (167 x 194 mm each). Contemporary red half leather. Covered with Ebru paper, with leather edges and marbled endpapers.


The original Ottoman Turkish manuscript of one of the most important texts in the history of electrical engineering and science: the complete treatise on electrical fluid, as drafted by the Turkish engineer Yahya Naci the same year. "In the early 19th century, the teaching of science at the Imperial Engineering School in Istanbul was mostly based on the material translated from textbooks compiled for the French 'grandes écoles'. Translations and compilations were generally made by the professors of the school. Yahya Naci Efendi (d. 1824), a lecturer in French language and sciences, compiled in 1812 a treatise introducing the properties of electricity through experiments. His aim was also to show that the lightning flash and the thunderbolt were electrical phenomenons. Yahya Naci's main source was the chapter on electricity of Mathurin-Jacques Brisson's (d. 1795) 'Traité Elémentaire de Physique', a popular book of physics in French colleges. This translation is important because Yahya Naci endeavoured to create Ottoman terms from Arabic regarding electricity and because it points to the initiatives in introducing experimentation in the teaching in the Imperial Engineering School" (Günergün, cf. below). The colophon states the name of the scribe as "Yahya Naqi" and the date "Zilqa'da 1227 H.", proving that the present volume contains the author's long-lost original manuscript.

In very fine condition; only a few insignificant spots.

Feza Günergün, Deneylerle elektrigi tanitan bir Türkçe eser: Yahya Naci Efendi'nin Risale-i Seyyale-i Berkiyye'si. In: Osmanli Bilimi Arastirmalari IX/1-2 (2007-2008), pp. 19-50.