Evliya Çelebi

Gezgin, Gezi Yazarı, Yazar

25 Mart, 1611

Writer of travel literature (b. 25 March 1611, İstanbul – d. 1682, Egypt or İstanbul). For a short period, he studied at madrasah and revised Islam theology on elementary level and then memorized the Holy Koran. During the reign of Sultan Murat IV., he was educated on calligraphy, chanting Koran with proper pronunciation, syntax and music lessons at the palace.  He accompanied the Sultans with his pleasant way of speaking and brilliance. Because of the stories he heard from his father and other people around him, he was willing to see the distant lands. According to the rumors, in 1630, he met the Prophet Mohammad in his dream. He was about to seek his interceding, he made a mistake and begged a life time travel and his pray was accepted, and he became a traveler. He describes himself in his book Seyahatname (Book of Travels) as: "Seyyah-ı âlem ve nedim-i beni-âdem Evliya-yı bîrîyâ" (A world-traveller, a human being and a trustworthy saint).

At first, he travelled in İstanbul. He introduced the İstanbul of that era with the dervish lodges, mosques and madrasahs, cafés of public story tellers, promenade areas like Kâğıthane and Boğaziçi, the entertainment in those places and those of characters, who were addicts of such amusement, in Seyahatname (Book of Travels, 1640). After touring İstanbul for about a decade, he found the proper grounds to go en route for the distant lands he dreamt of. He traveled across diverse cities and regions of the Empire (such as Bursa, İzmit, Trabzon, Erzurum, Sivas, Van, Diyarbekir, Bitlis, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Hejaz, Egypt, Sudan and the Balkans) for numerous reasons. Sometimes he took responsibilities among state officers appointed to small provinces, sometimes he participated in wars, sometimes he delivered letters and sometimes he went on his own. He wrote his impressions on his travels to foreign countries such as Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Caucasus, the Crimea, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Holland, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Greece, Albania and the Crete. It is speculated that he was in Egypt or in İstanbul when he died, but it is not known clearly.

Evliya Çelebi collected his notes of his impressions and the narratives he heard about in addition to other sources within more than fifty years while traveling; in the renowned series of fifty volumes with thhe title Seyahatnâme. His book is considered to be a precious document on history, geography, literature, folklore, ethnography and sociology disciplines and was written in a language that can easily be understood by ordinary people, since it was written with humorous and clear narration, in contrary to the elaborated prose of Divan* literature. To an extent, Seyahatname (Book of Travels) may be considered as a story book as it includes absurd stories (as woman giving birth to an elephant, cats freezing while jumping from one roof to another, foretelling caves, etc.) to attract the interest of its reader.

Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname (Book of Travels) was firstly published in 1935-39, first eight volumes were written in Arabian alphabet and last two in Latin alphabet in 1935-39. Later, modern versions were published, some of which are: Reşat Ekrem Koçu / Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi (Reşat Ekrem Koçu / Book of Travels by Evliya Çelebi, five volumes, 1943-51) Zuhuri Danışman / Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi (Travel Book of Evliya Çelebi, edited by Zuhuri Danışman with a simplification of T. Temel Kuran, N. Aktaş and M. Çelenk, eight volumes, 1982). 

REFERENCE: Adnan Adıvar / Osmanlı Türklerinde İlim (s: 132, 1943), Orhan Şaik Gökyay / Türkçede Gezi Kitapları (Dil ve Edebiyat dergisi, 1973), Dr. W. Barthold / İslâm Medeniyeti Tarihi (s. 76 Ankara 1973), Yüksel Yoldaş Demircanlı / İstanbul Mimarisi İçin Kaynak Olarak Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi (1989), Haz: Yusuf Ziya Özkan / Evliya Çelebi’nin Çocukluğu (1993), Mücteba İlgürel / Evliya Çelebi (TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi, c.11, 1995), Dr. Mustafa Duman / Trabzon’u Anlatan Birkaç Kitap (Cumhuriyet Kitap, 11.7.2002), Mehmet Nuri Yardım / Edebiyatımızın Güleryüzü (2002), İhsan Işık / Yazarlar Sözlüğü (1990, 1998) - Türkiye Yazarlar Ansiklopedisi (2001, 2004) – Encyclopedia of Turkish Authors (2005) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) – Ünlü Edebiyatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 4, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013). 



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