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Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°4. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°4. Volume 2 ( 2011) An Ottoman Calendar

An Ottoman Calendar (takvim) for

1740/41AD

An astronomical, historical and interreligious database

Gerhard Behrens

Abstract: The article analyses in detail a takvim codex (one-year calendar) for 1740/41 AD dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I. (1740-1754). The takvims were presented yearly to the sultans during a court ceremony celebrating Nauruz, on the date of the vernal equinox. The takvims with their wealth of astronomical, historical and religious information have not been the object of a detailed study before. By comparing the astronomical data with modern computerised databases of the NASA and other sources the criteria for Ottoman timekeeping will be explained. The Muslim and Christian religious feasts that occupy a

large section of the takvim also merit a detailed study, as they reveal a tradition that seems at odds sometimes with accepted religious doctrine. It can be shown that these as well as the

takvim‟s astrological data are rooted in the research of much

earlier Muslim astronomers and chronologists like Biruni and others.

The takvim proves, therefore, to be an important document of the knowledge Ottoman society had of astronomy and chronology, exceeding its primary use as a simple calendar. 1

1 I am grateful to Professor J.M. Rogers for his critical reading and advice.

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Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°4. Volume 2 ( 2011)

1 Introduction A whole literature is devoted to methods of calculating the Islamic lunar calendar. Apart from the orthodox method that requires actual sighting of the new moon as the start of a month, there are astronomic calculations, which are based on various criteria regarding the visibility of the new crescent, and finally the compilation of a calendar with fixed cycles disregarding both actual sighting and astronomic computation. 1

Ottoman perpetual calendars, called ruznames 2 , rely on the latter method, which is based on a cyclical recurrence of arithmetically calculated dates in both the lunar Hijri and the solar Julian Christian year. The ruznames have always been of interest not only to chronologists but also to collectors of Islamic art, due to their artistic design and illumination as codices or scrolls on parchment or paper, fulfilling decorative purposes alongside their function as a chronological tool 3 , similar to the astrolabes that were scientific tools and cherished works of art at the same time.

1 vid. M. Ilyas, A Modern Guide to Astronomical Calculations of Islamic Calendar Times & Qibla,

Kuala Lumpur 1984, pp. 82ss. for a detailed explanation of the Islamic lunar month and the problems to define the visibility of a new crescent.

Also Biruni‟s treatise on the

determination of the length of Ramadan (Albîrûnî, The Chronology of Ancient Nations, [(transl. & ed. C.E. Sachau], London 1879 [reprint Frankfurt 1984], pp. 76-81) is still worthwhile reading because as a true polymath he treats the matter under every possible aspect - scientific, religious and even linguistic.

2 In a more general sense ruzname means also a journal for recording events. 3 e.g. three ruznames in: The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, vol. XII/1 (ed. J. Raby), Oxford 1997, cat.

170-172

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An Ottoman Calendar

They are a distinctive Ottoman contribution to Islamic science and exist basically in two versions, whose respective origins are attributed to hardly known authors. One of them is Shaykh Vefa, a mystic and a holy man who died in 1491 1 ; the other is Darendeli Mehmet Efendi, whose version, in use since the end of the 18 th century 2 , superseded that of Shaykh Vefa. Some explanation is needed to read both versions, and only about once in a century a Western scholar took the pains to explain them in detail. 3

1 D.A. King, “Astronomical Timekeeping in Ottoman Turkey.” In Islamic Mathematical Astronomy, XII. London: Variorum Reprints, pp. 245255, p.248. 2 G.B.Toderini, De la littérature des Turcs (transl. l'Abbé de Cournand), Paris 1789, vol. 1, p.146. 3 The only detailed explanations I could trace are by chronological order: 1. Georgii Hieronymi Velschi (=Welsch), Commentarius in Ruzname Naurus sive Tabulae aequinoctiales novi Persarum & Turcarum anni, Augusta Vindelicorum (=Augsburg/Germany) 1676; 2. J.B. Navoni, “Rouz-namé ou Calendrier perpétuel des Turcs”, in:

Hammer-Purgstall, Fundgruben des

Orients, vol. 1, Vienna 1814, pp. 38- 67/127-153/253-277 (& attached

tables); 3 ..

F.K.Ginzel, Handbuch der

mathematischen und technischen

Chronologie

das

Zeitrechnungswesen der

Völker,vol.1, Leipzig 1906, pp. 266-

71;

4. N. A. Bär & G. Rettelbach, „Aufbau und Inhalt der Osmanischen

The cyclical or arithmetic dating method is dictated by the perennial purpose of the ruznames. Several tables, some arranged in linear, others in rhomboid form, are listed on their first page or on top of a scroll, with only the limited number of entries that are needed for one cycle. Otherwise they would become unwieldy and, therefore, useless. This method is only correct, however, regarding one of both calendars used in the ruznames, viz. the Julian-calendar with New Year on 1 st of March. This calendar is

truly cyclical as it alternates between one intercalary year of 366 days and three normal years of 365 days starting on one of seven weekdays, which results in recurring cycles of 4x7 = 28 years that can easily be handled even by the relatively short ruznames. The task of determining in advance the first of the lunar months of the Islamic year, the lunation, is much more complicated, however. If the author of a

Kalenderrolle im Hamburgischen

Museum für Völkerkunde“, in:

Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für

Völkerkunde Hamburg. n.F., Bd. 20; 1990. pp. 145-160. Nos.2 to 4 are all

versions of the Darendeli ruzname, while no.1 is a Sheykh Vefa ruzname. - M. d‟Ohsson, Tableau Général de l‟Empire Othoman, vol. I, Paris 1787, after p. 192 includes a Darendeli ruzname for 1192-1277 AH. without any explanation, however.

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An Ottoman Calendar

ruzname

had

the

ambition

to

astronomical calculation. This

apply

astronomically

correct

well-known formula uses a

methods for fixing the lunation for a period of many years, his calendar would be too voluminous to be included on a few pages or fit onto a scroll of

recurring cycle of

30 years, in

which normal years (354 days) are followed at certain intervals 2 by intercalary years (355 days), while the months change

one

to

two

meters;

it

would

alternately

between 30 days

rather require a codex of

(Muharram) and 29 days (Dhu‟l-

hundreds of pages. The

Hijja),

with

the

last

month

ruznames had, therefore, to rely for the Islamic year as well on a

(Dhu‟l-Hijja) having 30 days in intercalary years. Yet as

cyclical

calendar

with

short

mentioned before, this cyclical

tables of recurring dates. This is in principle the same method as

calendar can only approximate the astronomical determination

applied

in

modern

Western

of

the

lunar

dates

for

future

conversion tables such as that of

dates and in the case of

Mahler-Wüstenfeld and in

Ramadan

in

particular

 

could

computer

 

conversion

always be

overruled

by

actual

programmes, the modern

sightings

of

the

new

crescent.

versions

of

a

ruzname.

This

The Darendeli ruznames,

schematic

calendar,

whose

moreover, apply a cycle of only

method is comparable to that of

eight

years,

which

sacrifices

the

truly

cyclical

Western

more precision for the sake of

calendar, was already known to

yet greater convenience.

mediaeval

 

Muslim

Whereas eight correctly

astronomers. 1

Instead

of

computing the dates of the new

2 In both Qalqashandī „s and Ulug Beg

crescent

as

the

start

of

lunar

‟s 30-years‟-cycle the 15 th year is an

month by one of several rather

intercalary year, whereas other

complicated

astronomical

cyclical calendars based on the same

calculations, it applies an easier cyclical formula that

cycle mark the 16 th year instead. As the difference to the astronomically correct calendar reaches precisely

approximates

very

closely

the

half a day after 15 days and calendars are divided into full days, the jump

1 Qalqashandī, ubal-aʿshā fī şināʿa

al-ʾinshāʾ,

Cairo

1913-9

(reprint

1963),

vol.VI,

pp.

255-6.;

Sédillot,

Prolégomènes

des

tables

astronomiques

d‟Oloug-Beg

-

traduction

et

commentaire,

Paris

1853, p.11.

necessary for the alignment can be equally justified by adding a full day to either the 15th or the 16th year of the 30-years cycle. In arithmetic calendars with 15.7.622 as the epoch of the Islamic era the 15 th year of a cycle is normally an intercalary year, while those based on 16.7.622 add one day to the 16 th year.

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An Ottoman Calendar

calculated lunar years are equivalent to 2834 d 22 h 28 m 36 s , the simplified eight-year cycle is composed of a full number of 2835 days. 1 This number can be divided without any remainder into 405 weeks, which fits ideally into a perpetual calendar, although the difference from the true solar calendar results in an error of approx. one day for every 126 years. As the ruznames normally cover only a lesser number of years, this difference could be tolerated. A more important and rather annoying source of error, shared by both the ruznames and the modern conversion tables/programmes, lies in their rigid alternating sequence of lunar months of 29 and 30 days. Islamic historians are often frustrated when they have to realise that the Hijra dates mentioned in historical sources or even modern Arab newspapers diverge from those given in the conversion tables, e.g. when a month with 29 days is followed by another month with also only 29 days. The final decision about this was formerly the task of religious authorities 2 .

  • 1 whereas the 30-years‟-cycle, which is not used in the Darendeli ruzames, results in the almost correct figure of 2834 days + 22 hours for eight lunar years.

  • 2 According to Würschmidt, a German professor in Constantinople in 1917, the Sheykh ul-Islam was then in

Therefore,

the

conversion

of

Hijra

dates

into

the

Western

calendar in the ruznames and modern tables, although being

mostly correct,

can

never

be

taken

for

granted

unless

confirmed by

the

day

of

the

week. 3

charge of fixing the length of the months: J. Würschmidt, “Die Zeitrechnung im osmanischen Reiche”, Deutsche Optische Wochenschrift, 10 (1917) p.99. In the modern Islamic world printed calendars are based on dates fixed mainly by government observatories.

3 Navoni, who at the beginning of the 19 th century had still the possibility to learn how ruznames were used in practice, states this quite clearly (Navoni, op.cit, p.42): “car les astronomes turcs ne se règlent pour

cela ni d‟après le cycle de trente ans,

ni d‟après celui, bien moins exact, de 8 ans, don‟t ils font usage dans leur

Calendrier perpétuel, pour trouver le jour de la semaine, par lequel

commencent, ou plutôt sont censées

devoir commencer leurs années et les lunaisons suivantes.” He repeats this assessment when he contradicts Toderini, one of his sources, who erroneously had described the

ruzname as a very precise instrument for getting correct lunar dates and even times (Navoni, op.cit, pp.40-1)

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An Ottoman Calendar

The following discussion deals with a calendar manuscript valid for one year only (1740/41 AD), which differs from the perpetual ruzname 1 . The calendar for one year, generally known in Turkish as takvim (Arabic: taqwīm), 2 can easily compute all days of that year by the finely tuned and more precise methods of the astronomers. It has furthermore the possibility to register astronomical phenomena that occur on a particular day of this year with a precision that cannot be reached by the uniform

1 Other calendars in my own collection a takvim scroll for 1831/32, a codex salname (a complete almanac including annals, list of foreign dynasties etc.) for 1895/96 and a takvim booklet for 1938 will be consulted for comparison and explanation of data.

2 vid. article “Tawīm” by M. Hofelich

in

EI 2

&

its

bibliography.

A

description of a takvim or what he called „journal of the year‟ [daftar al-

sana] is

given by

Biruni,

Kitāb al-

tafhīm li awāʾil şināʿa al-tanjīm,

(transl. R. Ramsey Wright), London 1934, no. 321. It resembles the Ottoman takvims, although with a slightly different choice of data. For the design of a standard Ottoman takvim see also M.A.N. Akgür, „Müneccimbaşı Takvimlerinde Tarihleme Yöntemleri”, Türk Dünyasi Araştırmaları, vol. 80, 1992, pp. 99-120, which in spite of its title does not provide much information concerning the methods (yöntemleri) applied by the Chief Astronomers.

dating method of the ruznames. The focus of the takvims for 1740/41 and 1831/32 on astronomy is further accentuated by their choice of the basic year, viz. a solar year starting on Nauruz, the vernal (spring) equinox, which is different from all other calendars in practical use in the Ottoman Empire. 3 The dates of the Julian, Mali-Financial and the Seleucid calendars (all solar) that were in actual use for mainly administrative purposes are not defined by the astronomical observation of the

Sun. Also the solar Coptic calendar and the lunar Islamic calendars connect day One of their first month to other stars (Coptic: Sirius, inherited from an Ancient Egyptian calendar; Islamic: Moon), while they count their years from historical events (Coptic: accession year of Emperor Diocletian; Islamic:

Hijra of the Prophet).

3 The Malikshah calendar with its New Year on the vernal equinox was known, but not used in practical life in the Ottoman Empire, unlike Iran where it even forms the basis of the present calendar.

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An Ottoman Calendar

 

More modern Turkish

in turn were substituted in 1829

revealed that Cassini‟s tables

also included mistakes. 3

calendars

like

a

salname

for

by the tables of another French

1895/96, while substituting the solar Nauruz year with the Mali-

astronomer, Joseph-Jérôme Lefrançais Lalande (d.1807),

Financial year (beginning on 1 st of March) that became

after a report presented to Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) by

widespread

for

administrative

its translator, the müneccimbaşı

purposes since the 17 th century, still kept their focus on astronomy by dating planetary aspects such as conjunctions. A

Hüseyin Hüsni Efendi, had

We may assume,

takvim‟s

lunar

and other

therefore, that the takvim for

astronomical data can be correct only if the calendar authors use

1740/41 AD, published here, is based on Ulugh Beg and the

a

correct

zīj,

the

traditional

takvim for 1831 on Lalande.

database of Islamic astronomers. 1 For many centuries they would apply the

zīj of Ulugh Beg, who was more

successful

 

as

an

astronomer

than

as

a

short-term

Timurid

sultan (1447-9). His zīj, known as zīj-i sulānī after his title or zīj-i gurgānī after his nisba, became the standard tool, supplanting the zīj-i īlkhānī of the equally famous astronomer Nāşir al-Dīn ūsī 2 . At the end of the 18 th century, however, Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) cancelled its use in favour of the tables of the French astronomer Jacques Cassini (d. 1756), translated by Halifezadeh Ismail Efendi (d. 1790), which were considered more correct. They

1 D.A.King/J.Samsó, “Zīdj”, EI 2 2 Sédillot, Prolégomènes des tables astronomiques d‟Oloug-Beg, vol. 1, Paris 1847, p. cxix.

3 E. Ihsanoğlu, “The Introduction of Western Science to the Ottoman World: A Case Study of Modern

Astronomy (1600-1860)”, in: E. Ihsanoğlu, Science, Technology and Learning in the Ottoman Empire, Aldershot(UK)/Burlington(US) 2004, chapter II, pp.31-2.

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An Ottoman Calendar

The traditional takvims marked Nauruz, the day of the vernal (spring) equinox, as the beginning of the year. The feast, originating just like its name itself in Iranian culture, was an occasion for giving presents and for the recital of poems known as Nevruziyye. While some orthodox Muslim authors criticized the celebration of Nauruz for its continuation of

heathen traditions, the Shiʿa

even incorporated it into their own hagiography by commemorating it as the day,

when Ali was born, when he

married the Prophet‟s daughter

Fatima, and when the Prophet

proclaimed him as his successor.

Neither

orthodox

criticism nor Shiʿī heterodoxy

prevented the Ottomans from celebrating Nauruz, however 1 . During an important ceremony at the Ottoman court on that day, the müneccimbaşı, the Chief Astronomer, whose task was to prepare the takvim for the next year starting on Nauruz, presented it to the Sultan, the Grand-Vizier and other dignitaries. 2 A similar ceremony is recorded already in pre-Ottoman times. 3

1 On the importance of Nauruz in the Ottoman Empire vid. C. Bayak, “Nevrûziyye”, Islam Ansiklopedisi and Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Nevruz

Geleneği

in:

Mamluk

Cairo

also

seems

to

have attached

a

special

importance to the presentation of the calendar. Muammad b.

Abdallāh (d. 1472), a highly respected mīqātī (a person in charge of defining prayer times) and astrologer, gave every year calendars to high-ranking people upon their special request 4 . While the Fatimids of Egypt (969-1171) also celebrated a Nauruz, their feast marked the beginning of the Coptic year (end of August), not the day of

2 S. Aydüz, “Müneccimbaşı”, Islam

Ansiklopedisi, and Ş. Gündüz, “Nevruz”, Islam Ansiklopedisi. G.Necipoğlu, however, does not mention the celebration in her book

Architecture, Ceremonial, and

Power – The Topkapı in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries

(Cambridge/US, London 1991), which leaves the possibility open that the Nevruz ceremonial did not take place at all times ..

3 At the court of the Buyid ruler Aud al-Dawla (983-990 according to

Saliba, G. “The role of the Astrologer in Medieval Islamic Society”, in:

Magic and Divination in early Islam

(ed. Emilie Savage-Smith), Aldershot

2004, pp. 341-370, p.356. 4 al-Jawharī al-ayrafī, A. Inbāʾ al-

har bi-abnāʾ al-ʿar (ed. . abashi), Cairo 1970, p.455.

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An Ottoman Calendar

the vernal

equinox. 1

As already mentioned, the Ottoman sultan ultimately decided which zīj would form the basis for astronomical date keeping, at least at the turn of the 18 th to the 19 th centuries. The Nevruz ceremony moreover confirms the importance of calendars in Ottoman culture and of the conspicuous role played by the sultans in this matter. 2 . The Christian world had been preoccupied as well with the liturgical calendar, when it came to defining the date for Easter, a matter of theological dispute for centuries, even millennia, which finally led to the Gregorian calendar reform. Yet in the Islamic world the significance of time-keeping reached far beyond the sphere of religion and the determination of prayer and fasting times. Apart from the general belief in astrology, with the exception of a few orthodox and some rationalist thinkers 3 , the study

1 Maqrīzī, Taqī al-Dīn A. Kitāb al-

mawāʿ iwa „l-iʿ tibār bi-dhikr al- khiţaţ wa „l-āthār (ed. A.Y.Sayyid), vol. 2 (London 2002), p.600. 2 According to J.Gimpel, La révolution industrielle du Moyen Age, Paris 1975, p.142-3, the role of the Chinese emperor was even more important since only he could promulgate the calendar, the rules of which were a state secret. 3 Michot, Y. “Ibn Taimiyya, an Astrologer annotated translation of three fatwas”, in: Magic and Divination in

of the rules of time-keeping was stimulated to a large extent by the presence of important non- Muslim minorities, who kept their own calendars. Moreover, the impact of the rich traditions of astronomical studies and chronology of India and pre- Islamic Iran contributed to this interest. Ottoman astronomers and chronologists were acquainted with other traditions through the enduring importance encyclopaedic works on Greek, Roman, Christian, Iranian and Indian astronomy, astrology and chronology by e.g. Bīrūnī (973- 1048AD). 4 Bīrūnī, who was widely travelled like many Islamic scholars (apart from Khorezm he lived in Ghazna in modern Afghanistan -, India and Jurjan, near the Caspian sea), painstakingly recorded local traditions of chronology and religious feasts. 5 Bīrūnī remains

early Islam (ed. Emilie Savage-Smith),

Aldershot 2004, pp. 277-340, p.216

lists names of skeptic Islamic scholars who criticized the astrologers. 4 An outstanding polymath.from Khorezm, now a part of modern Uzbekistan that in Bīrūnī‟s time was still part of the Iranian world (later increasingly subject to Turkic influence). 5 After writing his often quoted important work on the chronology of Middle Eastern nations, Bīrūnī in his later life studied in detail astronomy and timekeeping as practised in India, resulting in his equally important book on India: Kitāb fī

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An Ottoman Calendar

the most important source for Middle Eastern chronology. His influence even on the relatively modern Ottoman takvims is obvious as the following analysis of the takvim of 1740/41 will show. One striking example of

his impact is a rather obscure

Khorezmian feast, the “Nauruz Khorezmshah” (see details below in the chapter on holidays p.54) included in several Ottoman takvims, which is recorded in his Chronology of Nations, but nowhere else, as far

as I can ascertain. The inclusion of the Central Asian animal calendar for the determination of the current year in late Ottoman takvims (see below p.25) is evidence of their link with even more remote regions in Asia. The other end of the geographical spectrum was covered by among many others, including Bīrūnī – Kâtib Çelebi, the prominent Ottoman encyclopaedist of the 17 th century, in his guidebook to European traditions with the

significant title “The bewildered

persons‟ initiation to the history of Greece, Rome and the

Christians” [Irshād al-ayārā ilā tārikh al-Yunān wa‟l-Rūm wa‟l- Naārā] 1 The multi-cultural

1

taqīq mā

C.E.

Sachau), London 1888.

O.S.

Gökyay,

“Kâtib Čelebi”,

Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2 nd edition;

aspect of Turkish (as compared to Western) almanacs is already

evident in the title of folio one of the takvim under study here:

“table for date conversion between well-known calendars” [cedvel-i maʿrife-i tahvil-i sal ve

tevarih-i meşhure] 2 . On a more mundane level, the need to manage tax matters on a seasonal, i.e. solar, basis, which the lunar Islamic calendar does not meet, required the study of alternative solutions that were on offer by both Iranian and Christian calendars. All through Islamic history peasants had been complaining when overzealous tax collectors forced them to pay taxes before they could even harvest their crops, because payment dates based on the short 354 day lunar calendar advanced by approximately 11 days every year compared to the seasons that are dictated by the Sun and not by the Moon. To alleviate this problem Muslim rulers have made several attempts some more successful than others to introduce solar tax calendars beside the Islamic calendar that still remained the official source

idem, “Kâtib Çelebi”,

Ansiklopedisi.

Islam

2 In this and the following I use,

depending on the context, either the modern Turkish transliteration of the Ottoman original or for pure Arabic quotations the transliteration rules for Arabic.

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An Ottoman Calendar

for date reckoning. It would be interesting to know whether this 18 th century almanac and later Ottoman almanacs with their focus on planetary phenomena were still committed to the Ptolemaic idea of the planets (including the Sun and the Moon) moving around the earth or had already adopted the heliocentric world model of Copernicus. The Copernican ideas were transmitted to the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 17 th century by the works of European astronomers Noel Durret (translated by Köse Ibrahim Efendi in 1660-4) 1 and Janszoon Blaeu (translated by Abū Bakr b. Bahrām b. Abd

Allāh al-anafī al-Dimashqī,

d.1692) 2 . It took them longer, however, to gain general

acceptance.

When

Ibrahim

Müteferrika,

the

father

of

the

Ottoman printing press, in 1732 published and commented

Cihannüma,

the

work

of

the

already

mentioned Ottoman

author Kâtib Çelebi, or in 1733 the translation of Atlas Coelestis

by

the

German

cartographer

Andreas Cellarius, only seven/eight years prior to our takvim, he was cautious enough not to attack openly the Ptolemaic geocentric theory in

favour of the Copernican system

or

Tycho

Brahe‟s

curious

  • 1 E. Ihsanoğlu, op.cit., pp.3-10.

  • 2 E. Ihsanoğlu, op.cit., pp.10-15.

combination of geocentric and heliocentric ideas. His caution was obviously motivated by his fear of the Ulema. The fears might have been unfounded, because heliocentric views were much less heretical for the Muslim religious establishment than for the Christian church, whose disquieting reaction Müteferrika knew well from his past as a student of theology at a Hungarian college of the Christian Unitarian denomination. 3

Even as late as in the early 19 th century 4 Seyyid Ali Bey, Director of the Mühendishâne-i Berrî-i Hümayûn (Imperial Land Forces College of Engineering, later merged into Istanbul Technical University), in the preface to his edition of a work of a 15 th century geographer opted for the geocentric world of Ptolemy, although he did

mention Copernicus‟ and Tycho

Brahe‟s theories. 5 It was only after Seyyid Ali Bey‟s dismissal in 1830 that the

Copernican world model gained general acceptance under his successor Ishak Efendi. 6 It is very probable, therefore, that the author of the takvim for

  • 3 E. Ihsanoğlu, op.cit., pp.15-20.

  • 4 the

About

same

time

when

the

Catholic

Church

removed

heliocentric works from the Index of

forbidden books!

 
  • 5 E. Ihsanoğlu, op.cit., p. 34

  • 6 E. Ihsanoğlu, op.cit., p. 35.

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An Ottoman Calendar

1740/41

still

believed

or

“By God‟s will, this year

professed to believe - that the

is a sign of happiness for the

Sun

and

the

planets

moved

virtuous, the pious and the

around the Earth. As

believers, and may they be

astronomical phenomena can be

granted blessings, luck, good

explained

more

or

 

less

fortune and rule, especially [by]

convincingly in all world models

the sultan of the sultans of the

and the terms

used

 

are

time and the world, the Great

compatible to all of them, this

Khan, image of Alexander,

question must remain open. 1

The takvim under study here 2 was produced to honour Sultan Mahmud I (1740-1754), as its dedication attests. Its text

vested with authority, the caliph of the messenger of the Lord of the Worlds whose supreme power reigns in Paradise - , the refuge of kings and sultans, the protector of the poor and the

(folio 2 recto) deserves to be

destitute,

the

bearer

of

the

quoted for its exalted rhymed

banner

of

the

Holy

Law,

the

eulogy (with a few Arabic

follower of the rightly guided

mistakes included) that is characteristic for the period

caliphs, the saviour of Islam and the Muslims, the destroyer

(underlined passages marked

of

the

unbelievers and

red in the original, bold passage marked gold):

polytheists, who finds help in the support of the Lord of the

  • 1 In the 10 th century already, Biruni stated

that

all astronomical

phenomena can be equally well explained in a helio- and a geocentric

system (Kitāb fī taqīq mā li-„l-Hind,

vol.1, p.277). See also C. De Vaux, Les Penseurs de l'Islam, vol 2 (Paris ), p.

217.

I am grateful

  • 2 to

Sam Fogg (of Sam

Fogg Gallery, London)

for

his

permission to publish the

manuscript

of

the

almanac

of

his

collection and to David Brunetti for

the

high-resolution

images

of

the

original.

Worlds, the victorious by the grace of the Lord of victories, the sultan, son of sultan, son of sultan, the Sultan Ghazi Mahmud Khan, son of Sultan

Mustafa Khan, son of Sultan

Mehmet Khan, may the trees of

his

state

be

green

and

the

flowers

of

his

reign

be

red

forever

until

the

end

of

all

times.

Amen,

oh

Lord

of

the

Worlds.”

12
12

An Ottoman Calendar

[In

shāʾa

llāh

bu

sāl

saʿādat nishān akhyār jihān wa

ʿāmma-i

abrār

wa

ahl

imān

üzerine

mubārak

wa

maymūn

wa

khujaste

wa

humāyūn

ola,

khuūan sulān salāīn zamān wa zamīn wa khāqān Iskandar

nishān āhib al-tamkīn, khalīfa rasūl rabb al-ʿālamīn, al-il

ʿuluw qadrihi ilā al-ʿilliyyīn, kahf al-mulūk wa al-salāīn, malādh al-fuqarāʾ wa al-masākīn, rāfiʿ aʿlām al-sharʿ al-mubīn, sālik masālik al-khulafāʾ al-rāshidīn,

ʿiyāth [sic]

1 al-Islām wa al-

muslimīn, qātil al-kafara wa al-

mushrikīn, al-muʾayyad bi-taʾyīd rabb al-ʿālamīn, al-manūr bi- nura khayr al-irīn, al-sulān

ibn al-sulān ibn al-sulān al-

Sulān

al-Ghāzī Mamūd

Khān ibn al-Sulān Mustafā

Khān ibn al-Sulān Muammad

Khān

zāla

[sic;

should

be:

zālat]

ashjār

dawlatihi

1 Meant is ʿiyādh = succour in Arabic. ʿiyāth would be a derivative of ʿātha = to destroy!

mukhaḍḍara [sic] 2 , wa azhār salanatihi muammara [sic], ilā ākhir al-zamān, wa ghāyat al- awān. Amīn, yā rabb al-ʿālamīn]

The takvim codex was designated by later inscriptions

as “waqf” of Sultan Mahmud to

the

Naārat-i

aramayn al-

Sharifayn

(the

department

in

charge

of

the

Holy

Sites

of

Mecca and Medina) in a location

described

as

“inside

the

Bab

„Azab [Azap Kapısı]

in

the

annexes (mulaqāt) of the waqfs

near the Holy and Great mosque of Aya Sofia in Istanbul” 3 .

2

Both

terms

- mukhaḍḍara and

muammara are grammatically

wrong: They should be mukharra and mumarra, instead.

3 According to a note on the upper part of 1st folio recto.

13
13

An Ottoman Calendar

The royal provenance explains the luxurious design as

astronomy. Another aspect of the takvims that contrasts with

a codex in leather binding with

the contemporary almanacs of

gold

embossed medallions.

the Western world is their

According

to

Toderini, who

recording of the feasts not only

worked

as

instructor

 

at

the

of Islam, the main religion, but

embassy of Venice in Istanbul in

equally of Christianity and to a

the

1780s,

takvims 1

in

codex

lesser degree of the Jewish

form were produced for

minorities, as well. The takvim

dignitaries,

while

the

sultan

authors went even so far as to

himsel f was presented with a

devise a short formula for

scroll

on

parchment. 2

If

his

calculating Easter, before even

observation

is

correct,

the

the Christian world had

present takvim must have

invented a mathematical

originally belonged to a

algorithm for this (vid. chapter

dignitary,

not

to

the

sultan

on holidays for details, p. 54s.).

himself, although it came later

This is quite remarkable as the

to be part of the sultan‟s waqfs.

calendar makers were recruited

A detailed analysis

of

the

from the Muslim religious

takvims shows that its users in

establishment. The significance

particular

and

probably

the

of this kind of calendar

Ottomans in general were

manuscript lies, therefore, in the

particularly

 

interested

 

in

wealth of astronomical,

astronomy, mainly

but

not

astrological, chronological,

exclusively in combination with

religious and meteorological

astrology, and must have had a

data that reveal in a concise

considerable

knowledge

of

the

form Ottoman knowledge and

movements of the Sun, the Moon and the planets. The records of the relative positions

interest in these subjects. As other takvims of less elaborate design but with similar data

of these heavenly bodies, their

exist, this interest could not

so-called aspects,

as

explained

have been confined to the social

exceeding “even the Bible in

in detail in the following pages

elite only. In the 17 th century

and their sometimes seemingly irregular movements could only have been of interest to a

comparable almanacs were sold in Britain by the thousands,

community that had more than a passing knowledge of

their popularity and authority, no literate person of any social class being without at least one

1 Called “ruz-nameh de l‟année” by Toderini. 2 G.B.Toderini, op.cit., vol.1, p. 149.

almanac,” and at the end of the 18 th century even between a quarter and a half million copies

14
14

An Ottoman Calendar

of one individual almanac were

sold. 1

Similar

distribution

figures could not be reached in the Ottoman Empire, of course,

as

takvims

were

not

printed

until

much

later.

There

is

no

doubt,

however,

that

before

mankind

had

reluctantly

advanced into the Age of

Enlightenment,

 

the

almanacs/takvims

with

their

attractive

mixture

of

factual

knowledge,

pseudo-science,

superstition, religious data and

practical advices were

immensely popular in the

Ottoman and Western alike.

societies

The

takvim‟s

astronomical and religious data will be analyzed in detail on the following pages, with sometimes

quite remarkable results. The last folios with a drawing of a lion attacking an animal, a Persian poem together with a chronogram for 1706 AD and two ghurretnames 2 for the much earlier years of 1110 AH and 1118 AH, show no obvious connection with the takvim, which was designed for 1152-4 AH/1740-1 AD. Therefore, they will not be discussed here.

  • 1 P. Whitfield, Astrology a history, London 2001, pp.176, 188.

  • 2 a ghurretname is a table to compute the weekday of the first day of each month for several years (from Arabic: ghurra [first day of a month] and Persian name [book, list]),

An Ottoman Calendar of one individual almanac were sold. 1 Similar distribution figures could not be

folio 1 verso

15
15

An Ottoman Calendar

2.

General

Sections

(folio 1, verso, see p. 14)

These

pages

merit

a

detailed study

of

the

astronomical

phenomena

and

chronological data that

were

used to determine the starting

date of the takvim and record a partial lunar eclipse. The takvim refers to the

year for which it several ways:

is

made

in

1)

past occurrence of

two planetary conjunctions 2) New Year date

by equivalent

dates of

five

different calendars

3)

a horoscope

for

the Turkish animal calendar

4)

a horoscope

for

the ascendant of the year

5)

the exact time of

Nauruz, the vernal equinox

6)

a partial

lunar

eclipse

ad 1) The

year

planetary

according to conjunctions

Two

astronomical

phenomena are given as

a

reference

for

the

year

of

the

almanac, which is defined as:

(a)

the

19 th

year

of

(better: after)

the

smaller

conjunction of the two superior planets in Sagittarius of the fiery triplicate

[müsellese-i

nariyeden

burc kavsda vaki kıran-ı asgar-

i ulviyaneyn on dokuzuncu senesi],

(b)

the

2 nd

year

of

(better: after) the conjunction of the two malefic planets in

Cancer [kıran-ı nahseyn saratanin ikinci senesi].

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16

An Ottoman Calendar

The

common

denominator of both events is the conjunction [kıran] of two planets. The aspects of the planets, i.e. their relative position to each other, and their movements are decisive in astrology. They are frequently mentioned in the takvim with the Arabic terms used by Islamic astronomers/astrologers. A conjunction (Arabic: qīrān, alias marriage) occurs when two real planets are at close distance to each other, as seen from the Earth. 1 Astrologers generally defined a conjunction rather loosely, because planets radiate a “sphere of virtue” extending several degrees in each direction 2 , meaning that both planets need only to be within the same zodiac sign. Such a “conjunction” could last several days, while the takvims mark them for one day only. The reason why the takvims prefer a closer conjunction is probably the idea that “if the space [between the planets] is equivalent to half the body of each one or less, then the effect [of the conjunction] is more certain.” 3

  • 1 Biruni, Kitāb al-tafhīm, no 250. The other relative positions (aspects) of the planets are mentioned below on

p.37.

  • 2 P. Whitfield, op.cit. p. 44.

  • 3 Abū Maʿšar, The abbreviation of the introduction to astrology together with the medieval Latin translation

The

planets

in

conjunction (a).

The

five

were defined

by

real

planets

4

their

spheres

relative to the Sun. The Arabic

(genitive) dual used in the

takvims is sufficient to identify

the

“two

inferior

planets”

[Arabic: sufliyyayn], as there are only two planets moving in orbits closer to the Earth than

the Sun‟s orbit, in other words “below” the Sun. These are

Mercury and Venus. The Moon,

strictly speaking also a planet in the geocentric world model with

its own sphere closest

to the

Earth, and the Sun are not

normally included among

the

planets [Arabic: al-kawākib al- mutaayyira or al-sayyāra], but

known as the two “luminaries” [Arabic: nayyirān].

of Adelard of Bath (ed. & transl.: C.

Burnett/K. Yamamoto/M. Yano),

Leiden/New York/Köln 1994, pp. 40-

1.

4 for the explanation of the planets in

Islamic astronomy and astrology see:

Kunitzsch, „al-Nudjūm II“, EI 2 and

Hartner[Kunitzsch], Minaat al- Burūdj“ , EI 2

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17

An Ottoman Calendar

With three known planets

Bīrūnī

as

well

as

on spheres beyond the Sun

Māšāʿallāh 3

distinguish

Mars,

Jupiter,

Saturn

the

between lesser [aşghar], middle

designation “two superior [planets]” [Arabic: ʿulwiyyayn]

in the takvim would normally

not be precise enough.

There

was a well-established convention, however, to reserve

this term for the top two planets,

viz.

Jupiter

and

Saturn. 1

The

conjunction of these two planets

is, as Bīrūnī writes, the

conjunction par

excellence

[mulaq].

Mars,

the

third

superior

planet,

appears

in

conjunction lists

only

as

a

partner of Saturn, both known

as

the

two

malefic planets

[nasayn], and only while they

are in the zodiac sign of Cancer 2 , as in conjunction (b). - One more term in the takvim, viz. “lesser” [Arabic:

aşghar], which qualifies the Jupiter with Saturn conjunction, needs further explanation.

1 Anonymous, taqwīm al-adwār, Istanbul 1287AH/1870/1AD, p.3. The opposition [muqābala], i.e. the aspect when two planets are 180°

apart, of the

ʿulwiyyayn on for

7./19.3.1832, recorded in the takvim for 1831, is also valid for Jupiter with Saturn only.

2 Biruni, Kitāb al-tafhīm, no

250.

.

[awsa] and greater [aʿẓam]

conjunctions depending on the zodiac constellation, where the conjunction occurs 4 . The astrologers divided the zodiac into four sets (each named after one of four elements) of three signs, the so-called triplicates [Arabic: muthallatha; Turkish:

müsellese] 5 . The three signs that constitute one triplicate lie exactly 120 degrees from each other on the zodiac, thus forming an equilateral triangle. Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, which happen approximately once every 20 years, would, therefore, never

3 a Jewish astrologer in Basra in the 2 nd half of the 9 th century.

4

Biruni,

Kitāb

al-tafhīm,

no

250;

Māšāʿallāh, as cited by Abū Maʿšar, Abū Maʿšar on Historical Astrology (The Book of Religions and Dynasties), (ed. & transl.:

K. Yamamoto/ C. Burnett), vol. 1, Leiden/Boston/Köln 2000, vol.1, pp.584-5.) The term aşghar is also used to distinguish Mars as “the lesser” [nahs-i asgar] of the two

inauspicious planets [nasayn] from

Saturn, “the bigger” one [nahs-i ekber], and the Moon, the smaller of the two luminaries [nayyirayn], from the Sun, the bigger one. 5 Aries, Leo, Sagittarius = fiery triplicate; Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn = earthy triplicate; Gemini, Libra, Aquarius = airy triplicate; Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces = watery triplicate.

18
18

An Ottoman Calendar

leave the same triplicate, as long as they occur in one of its three zodiac signs, in other words: in

signs

0°,

120°

or

240°

apart

from

the

previous

one.

This

happens

quite

often,

because

Jupiter with Saturn

conjunctions

always

occur

at

only

slightly

more

than

240°

difference

to

the

preceding

conjunction 1 ,

in

other

words

approximately

two

thirds

of

a

full circle

apart

from

the

previous zodiac sign. As long as

the triplicate does not change,

any new conjunction is called a lesser [aşghar] one. Yet according to Biruni after twelve

of

the

lesser

conjunctions

a

middle

[awsa]

conjunction

1 The longitudinal position on the celestial equator - the projection of

the Earth‟s equator on the celestial

globe - known as right ascension

(RA),

is

measured

in

hours/minutes/seconds similar to the division of the 360°-circle of a clock into 24 hours, starting at 0 h 0 m 0 s with the zodiac sign of Aries, i.e. the point of the vernal equinox (Aries 0-2 hours, Taurus 2-4 hours, Gemini 4-6 hours, Cancer 6-8 hours, Leo 8-10 hours, Virgo 10-12 hours, Libra 12-14 hours, Scorpio 14-16 hours, Sagittarius 16-18 hours, Capricorn 18-20 hours, Aquarius 20- 22 hours, Pisces 22-24 hours).

Their latitude relative to the celestial equator the declination is

measured in degrees from 0°0‟0‟‟ (a

position on the celestial equator) to

+90°0‟0‟‟ (the celestial North Pole)

or -90°0‟0‟‟ (the celestial South Pole.)

makes

the

shift

[intiqāl

al-

mamarr] into a new triplicate, i.e. every 20 x 12 years = 240 years. This means that according to Bīrūnī ‟s reckoning 2 the conjunctions must occur at 242.5° intervals, because the odd number of 2.5 degrees multiplied by 12 amounts to 30° or one twelfth of the zodiac, when there must be a shift to the adjoining zodiac sign and therefore into another triplicate. Finally, the whole cycle of the four triplicates starts anew after 4 x 240 years = 960 years with

the shift to a greater [aʿẓam]

conjunction. According to modern databases 3 Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction on

5./16.1.1723 1 at 23°19‟ within the 30° large zodiac section of Sagittarius 2 . This marks the year of the takvim, which begins on 9/20.3.1740, in fact as the 19 th year after this conjunction, if we include both first and last year conform to the traditional method of counting. 3

2 The dates of Jupiter with Saturn conjunctions in modern astrological databases show that Biruni‟s figures should only be taken as a very close - approximate calculation, mainly as a result of irregular behavior of the planets due to the eccentricity of their orbits. 3 I have relied mainly on Newcomb.exe (for MS-DOS), a programme developed by David Eagle and published by Willmann-Bell, Inc.,

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19

An Ottoman Calendar

In another manuscript Māšāʿallāh interprets the term

aşghar al-ʿulwiyyayn differently,

however, as a conjunction of Mars with Jupiter 4 . There was indeed such a conjunction in Sagittarius also nineteen years before 1740/41 (on 10.1.1723). A further one occurred, however, eleven years later on 9.2.1734. This is quite fortunate, because it eliminates any doubt that the takvim understands the term

aşghar

al-ʿulwiyyayn

as

a

conjunction

 

according

to

Māšāʿallāh‟s

first

definition,

not

according

to

his

second

definition

as

a

conjunction

of

Mars

with

Jupiter

per

se.

Richmond/Virginia, USA 1986, for data of the planets and the Sun.

1

2

Western dates will be given according to the Julian calendar (OE = Old Era), which is used in the takvim, and for years after 1582 also by the corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar (NE = New Era.)

les/geo/ju-sa/ju000sa.html (c) Richard Nolle

3

4

e.g. Pentecost = the 50 th day after Easter Sunday when both dates are included, whereas we would now understand Whitsunday/Pentecost to be the 49 th day after Easter (the start date Easter Sunday not included).

Abū Maʿšar, Historical Astrology, vol. 1, p.585 n.36, where he defines

awsaand aʿẓam as the conjunctions

of Mars with Saturn and Jupiter with Saturn, respectively.

Otherwise, it

should

have

defined 1740/41 not as the 19 th

year after a conjunction

5./16.1723, but

as

the

8 th

on

year

after a conjunction on 9.2.1734.

The

planets

in

conjunction (b).

Here we are dealing with

the

two

inauspicious

planets

[nasayn],

Mars

and

Saturn.

Elsewhere

-

in

the

detailed

calendar pages - the takvim also includes entries for the dates of

conjunction of

the

two

auspicious planets [saʿdayn],

Venus and Jupiter. On 6.4.1739 Mars and Saturn were in conjunction at degree 4° within the 30° sign of Cancer 5 .

Thus 1740 was in fact the 2 nd year after this conjunction

according to the traditional counting method with both start and end date included.

Both reference dates are

chosen correctly because no other conjunctions of the two planets occurred within the two zodiac signs Sagittarius and

Cancer, respectively, before 1740 (1782 and 1769 were the next years of occurrence).

5

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20

An Ottoman Calendar

One more question

A

more specific

remains, though. Many other

explanation

offered

by

Abū

planetary conjunctions occurred before and during 1740/41. Why

Maʿ šar, who lived one century earlier 1 , may be that a

did the author choose these

conjunction

within

the

fiery

conjunctions in particular?

triplicate indicates power for the

It is difficult, if not

people

of

the

Mashriq,

with

impossible for a modern reader to understand why mediaeval

Sagittarius as the strongest and Aries as the weakest sign, while

astrologers favoured one stellar

Leo takes the middle rank. 2 It is

event over all others. As Bīrūnī –

tempting

to

give

a

political

like modern astrologers - singles

meaning to this

 

choice.

In

out the two conjunctions of Jupiter with Saturn and Mars with Saturn among all other

particular the term which Abū Maʿ šar used in this connection, i.e. quwwa = power,

conjunctions in the relevant

is

usually

associated

with

passage of his book on astrology,

political or military power. His

the choice could have been

choice could have been

simply due to a long established

motivated by selecting

 

the

tradition in Islamic astrology,

conjunction that was most

while the original idea behind it

auspicious in the power struggle

had been forgotten. Bīrūnī does

of

the

Islamic

East

against

a

not furnish any explanation,

loosely defined West. But this

why this particular conjunction

interpretation is

 

almost

was so important.

certainly

wrong.

It

would

be

anachronistic to suspect such a

modern concept in the thoughts

of

a

mediaeval

 

astrologer.

Besides Abū

Maʿ

šar

did not

simply oppose the Mashriq to

the Maghrib alone, but in a true scholastic manner assigned each

of

the

four

triplicates

to

the

21
21

1 Abū Maʿ šar al-Balkhī (787-886), known in the West as Albumasar, Albusar or Albuxar, a Persian scholar, best known for his works on astrology that are considered among the most important in that field. 2 Abū Maʿ šar, Historical Astrology, vol.1, pp. 30,31.

An Ottoman Calendar

people of the East, the West, the North and the South. Abū Maʿ šar also offers a more convincing clue why conjunction (a) could have been so important in astrology. He mentions that a ruler who came to power during (or possibly in the year of) the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Sagittarius could expect an exceptional long life. 1 Given the importance of horoscopes for rulers in particular, this could be the true reason for singling out the years of that conjunction from among others. 2 Whatever the reasons for it, conjunction (a) is considered to have the strongest positive influence. The conjunction (b) of the two malefic planets in Cancer is, on the other hand, the worst possible aspect according to common astrological belief.

The takvim for 1831/32 has the same choice of conjunctions: a) the 11 th year of the conjunction of the two upper planets in Aries and b) the 5 th year of the conjunction of the two malefic planets in Cancer. 3 The authors of both takvims were probably aware that these conjunctions were taken as a reference in order to represent the best and the worst of planetary aspects before the current year, although it cannot be ruled out that were just blindly following a tradition.

ad 2) The New Year date, “when in all countries and latitudes day and night are equal” [cemi-i buldan ve urud‟da istiva-i leyl ve nehar mütehakkik olur], i.e. the date of the spring equinox according to following Middle Eastern calendars:

1 Abū Maʿ šar, Historical Astrology, vol.1, pp. 32,33. 2 As no Ottoman sultan acceded to power in 1723, the prediction as to their life expectancy could not be put to a test, though quite fortunate for the astrological profession. Just for the record: When Süleyman I., the longest reigning Ottoman sultan, took the throne in 1520, Jupiter and Saturn were not in conjunction!

3 Also checked as correct.

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22

An Ottoman Calendar

  • a. 29 Shahrivar 1110

Old Persian calendar, i.e.the solar Yazdegerd calendar, beginning with the accession of

the Sasanian king Yazdegerd III.in 612 AD. The adjective

“old”, sometimes even used

alone without further reference to the calendar in question, marks the Yazdegerd calendar as

opposed to the “new” Persian

calendar of Malikshah (see d. below). Its epoch (chronological beginning) is the first day (or Hormuzruz) of its first month

Ferverdin that corresponds to 16 June 612 AD, the date of Yazdegerd‟s accession. 1 As Yazdegerd III was the last Sasanian king to accede to the throne, the epoch of this calendar has not subsequently changed.

  • b. 13 Barmahat 1456

Coptic calendar. The Coptic era, although correctly labelled

“Era of the Martyrs”, is in fact a

fossilised pagan Roman calendar that counts the years from the accession year of the emperor, in this case Diocletian, who was honoured by the Copts with the start of their calendar, notwithstanding his relentless persecutions of Christians. But unlike the Yazdegerd calendar, the New Year of the Coptic calendar (1 Tut = 29 August) does not commemorate the day, when the emperor acceded to the throne (20.11.284), but is based on a much older Egyptian calendar starting its year with the heliacal rising 2 of Sirius.

1

Nikolaus

A.

Bär,

whom

I

wish

to

thank

for

his

valuable

advice

on

chronological matters, gives a very

good

and

detailed

explanation

of

Iranian calendars,

Iranische

Zei-

trechnungen,

on

his

website

2 For an explanation of this term see below p. 40.

23
23

An Ottoman Calendar

  • c. 9 Azer 2051 Rumi

calendar. This is obviously not

one of the two other date styles

normally called “rumi” (=

Byzantine or Greek), viz. the Julian Christian calendar counting the years Anno Domini

and the Ottoman Mali (Financial) calendar counting the years Anno Hegirae. It designates the Seleucid calendar that starts with the accession year of Seleucos I Nicator 1 , a general of Alexander the Great, in 312 BC. Since the Roman occupation of the Near East the Seleucid calendar follows the Roman (Julian) rules for calculating the length of a year. The takvim applies the most common of several versions of this calendar, i.e. with the twelve months having Syrian names and the year beginning on 1 Tishrinievvel = 1 October Julian Era. This solar calendar was popular in the Middle East for many centuries as a seasonal adjusted alternative to the lunar Islamic calendar. It is also

known as „Era of Alexander‟,

being mistakenly associated with Alexander the Great.

1 Elias J. Bickerman, Notes on Seleucid

and

Parthian Chronology,

d.

New

Year

662

Malikshah calendar, also known as Jalali-calendar. According to the calendar reform by the Seljuk sultan Malikshah (1072-92) the era of his solar calendar begins during

the Islamic year of 471 AH with the vernal equinox, which was equivalent then to 15 March 1079. Because the Julian year exceeds the true solar year by approx. three days in 400 years a discrepancy repaired by the Gregorian calendar reform in 1582 that dropped the intercalation every 100 years, except in multiples of 400 years - , the spring equinox in 1740 occurred six days earlier on 9 March of the Julian calendar. One year in the Malikshah calendar year is identical with

the takvim‟s basic year, which also starts on “Nauruz Sultani”, i.e. Nauruz of Sultan Malikshah.

  • e. 21 Dhuʼl-Hijja 1152

after

the

Hijra

(AH). The

addition of

“according to the

sighting

(of

the

Moon)”

[bi-

asab al-ruʾ]

after

the

date

reflects the traditional difficulty of Islamic chronologists in

reconciling

their

calculated

prognosis

with

the

religious

dogma that only the actual

sighting of the new crescent

moon can define the month.

start of

a

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24

An Ottoman Calendar

The

Western

date

corresponding to the dates given

by four of these calendars, the Coptic, Rumi, Malikshah and Lunar-Hijra, is uniformly Sunday, 9/20 March 1740 AD.

The

Yazdegerd

date

29

Shahrivar 1110, however, coincides with 9/20 March 1741 - one year too late. On the other hand, within the calendar we find the beginning of 1110 Yazdegerd Era on Friday 12./23.9.1740. The author was well aware then, that Nauruz 1740/41 AD, a day approx. six months before that date, corresponded to 29 Shahrivar 1709 (not 1710) of the Yezdegerd Era. The error was thus only due to an oversight when the first page of the takvim was written.

9/20 March 1740 AD

is, therefore, clearly defined as Nauruz of this year and constitutes the starting date of the takvim.

It is remarkable that the two most important solar calendars of the late Ottoman Empire are not included. They are the Julian and the Ottoman Financial (Mali) calendars, both mentioned already. The omission of these two calendars shows that the takvim was primarily an astrological tool with a focus on astronomy and less a civil calendar like the Julian and Mali calendars. The Darendeli ruznames on the other hand with their period spanning many years, which were not of much use to astrologers, regularly provided a database for the conversion of the Islamic Hijra into the civil Mali-calendar.

ad 3) A horoscope for

the Turkish animal calendar
the
Turkish
animal
calendar
25
25

An Ottoman Calendar

On the bottom right of folio one verso is a list in a rhomboid grid entitled

“horoscope of the year of the Turks” [zayiçe-i sal-ı Turkan] with the year names of the Central-Asian animal calendar, that counted the years in cyclical periods of 12 years, each one carrying the name of an animal. 1 This calendar applies the same rules established in the better known Chinese animal calendar, still popular in China for special feasts 2 . I use the commonly accepted English equivalents of the Chinese year names, although the exact translation of the almost exclusively Persian year names in the takvim might be slightly different. 3 Only one name is quite unusual, viz.

küskü [وكسك ] for “Rat”, which is of Eastern Turkic origin. 4 Years in this cycle were counted starting from the year of the Rat (year One) until the year of the Boar (year Twelve) - in the grid roughly arranged counter clockwise. As each year in a 12-year, i.e. duodecimal, cycle belonged alternating to five different

“elements” (wood, fire, earth,

metal, water), they formed one

complete greater sexagesimal cycle of 60 years. A delegation of pagan Turks visiting the court of

Mahmud of Ghazna (998-1030) explained how to convert Rumi (Seleucid) calendar years into the animal calendar. 5 Their method shall be used to check if

the takvim‟s animal calendar is

correct:

1 For a detailed explanation of the structure of this calendar vid. O.Turan, Oniki hayvanlı Türk takvimi, Istanbul 2009 (reprint). 2 There is a debate whether the Chinese or the Turks are to be credited with the invention of this calendar; for details vid. O.Turan, op.cit., pp. 71ss. 3 e.g. “Panther” [pārs] instead of “Tiger”, “Crocodile” or “Shark” [nahang] instead of “Dragon”. Other takvims might use different names, mostly a mixture of Persian, Turkic and Arabic terms. A takvim for 1831, for instance, has the Arabic fars for “Horse”, the Arabic ghanam for “Sheep” or “Ram”, the Persian mūsh for “Rat” and the Turkic daqūq (modern tavuk] for “Cock”.

4 According to O.Turan, op.cit., p. 113, “küskü” is the Uighur calendar name for a rat, a term adopted by Nāşir al- Dīn Ţūsī, Ulugh Beg (vid. Sédillot, op.cit., vol.1, p.9) and Biruni. L. Bazin, Les calendries Turcs et médiévaux, 1973, p.529, writes that prudish calendar makers like our author avoided sıçgan or modern sıçan, the Turkish term for rat common in calendars since the 13 th century, because it resembles sıçırgan, a vulgar insult (something like “shitter”), and preferred to use instead the antiquated “küskü”. 5 O.Turan, op.cit., pp.47-8. The information was given to Biruni, who, while staying with Mahmud of Ghazna at that time, tapped this unique source to complete his

26
26

An Ottoman Calendar

After adding nine years to the Rumi (Seleucid) year, the result is divided by 12. By adding the remainder to 1 ( = the first year of the animal calendar), we arrive at the current year within the 12-year cycle.

The standard inclusion even in late Ottoman takvims of the rather exotic Turkish animal calendar, which was not generally used in the Ottoman Empire (unlike Iran), can be explained by its astrological importance, as demonstrated by

The

mathematical

the term „horoscope‟ [zayiçe]

formula in our case is (2051+9)

that introduces it. Usually

mod 12+1. The result is 9, in fact the number of the Monkey year.

lacking entries for months and days, it was in fact used mainly

The

takvim

emphasizes

for indicating the year of birth

both the name and the number

of the animal year in golden letters. It contrasts with other personal horoscopes and astrological statements (see

below chapter “Choices” p. 69)

in that each year has well defined features not following the more or less arbitrary rules of individual astrologers. The year of the Monkey is characterised by three different authors 1 as a year of social unrest and lawlessness, and, in a more specific and also more banal sense, as a year when large animals like camels and horses get sick, and fruit and grapes become scarce.

like someone saying “I was born in the year of the Tiger”. With twelve years difference between the previous and the next year of the Tiger, this was normally quite sufficient for be certain of the exact age, if the person was present. It served also as a horoscope for events during that year, including the birth of children 2 .

admittedly

limited

knowledge

of

Turkish chronology. 1 According to O.Turan, op.cit., p.104:

Abū al-Fal, Tufat al Munajjimīn, Mamūd al-Kaşgarî, Dîvân Lûgat it Türk, Ibrahim Hakki, Maʿrifetname.

2 O.Turan, op.cit., p. 32 ..

27
27

An Ottoman Calendar

ad 4) A horoscope for the time of the ascendant of the year

The Arabic term āliʿ

marks the ascendant, a key term for any horoscope, sometimes even used as its synonym. It is defined as the point where the ecliptic intersects the Eastern

A rhomboid grid 1 on the bottom left of folio one verso is entitled “horoscope for the

ascendant of the year on the horizon of Istanbul” [zayiçe--i tali-i sal bi-ufuk-ı Dar as- Saltana al-seniyye].

An Ottoman Calendar ad 4) A horoscope for the time of the ascendant of the year

1 The distinctive rhomboid layout is also common in mediaeval European horoscopes, vid. P. Whitfield, op.cit., pp. 128, 132, 161,162.

28
28

An Ottoman Calendar

horizon, in other words as the rising zodiac sign, which is supposed to exert a profound influence on a person born at

that

time.

On 9/20 March 1740 between 8.45 am and 10.38 am local time, i.e. the time span during which the new year started at the vernal equinox (see below ad5), the ascendant for Istanbul was Gemini 1 , as marked in the grid. The horoscope has been calculated for the time, when Gemini as the ascendant of the

new year began to rise at 8.45 local time (not for the time of the equinox that occurred some time later!). According to Newcomb.exe the Sun‟s right ascension at that time was 23h59m54s, i.e. still a few seconds before 0 h 0 m 0 s , the start of Aries. Therefore, the author rightly placed it into the zodiac constellation of Pisces, the constellation preceding Aries. After the ascendant and the Sun, the positions of the

other heavenly “bodies”

distributed among the zodiac

constellations need to be checked. They are: the Moon, the five real planets known in antiquity, the “Head” [ra‟s], the

“Tail”

[dhanab],

the

“Lot

of

Fortune” [sahm al-saʿāda] and

the “Lot of Absence” [sahm al- ghayb].

“Head” and “Tail” stand for the dragon‟s head and tail [Arabic: ra‟s al-tinnīn and dhanab al-tinnīn], respectively.

These are the nodes or points 2 , where the Moon‟s slightly

inclined (by five degrees) orbital plane intersects the ecliptic, the

plane described by the Sun‟s

apparent yearly orbit around the Earth. Both nodes - the “Head”- node, in Western astrology also known as the male node, where the ascending Moon passes from the south (lower) to the north

(upper) side of the ecliptic, and the “Tail”-node for the descending Moon - are lying opposite each other on an axis 180 degrees apart. They do not remain at their position, however. The Moon does not travel around the earth in a plane that cuts the ecliptic always at the same points, but

like the precession of the Earth‟s

axis its orbital plane reverts slowly backwards, like a wobbling spinning top, making a tour through the zodiac in approx. 18.6 years or 6793.4

days, known as a draconic year, to complete a circle of 360°. This means that during one day of 24 hours a node travels 0.05299°, equal to 12.74 seconds in terms

of right

ascension.

.

2 Not to be confused with real stars known by this name; cf. P.Kunitzsch, Arabische Sternnamen in Europa,

Wiesbaden 1959, p. 165 (no. 102) vs. p. 197 (no. 163)

29
29

An Ottoman Calendar

The invisible nodes are thus behaving somehow like

planets, which also move through the zodiac. 1 In their untiring search for signs from the heavens, the astrologers interpreted these nodes as quasi-planets with their own

share

of

planetary influence. 2

This explains why the takvims mention the nodes in the horoscope not only for New Year, but also on several other occasions during the year, when a planet in its apparent orbit

around the Earth “meets” such a

node or - to use the standard

term when it is in conjunction with it.

While the Moon‟s nodes

have still a sound astronomical

base as the points of intersection between the orbit of the Moon and the ecliptic, the other two

“bodies”, the Lot or Part of Fortune [sahm al-saʿāda] and

the Lot of Absence 3 [sahm al- ghayb], are only the result of astrological cabbala (quite obvious with names like these 4 ). Their position is defined by a calculation based on the positions of the Ascendant, the Moon and the Sun. The “Part of Fortune” lies at a distance from the Ascendant equalling the distance of the Moon from the Sun 5 , while its partner, the “Part of Absence,” lies opposite to it, i.e. 180 degrees apart. 6 Anyone

  • 3 Other translations are known as well, like Part of Spirit or Part of Daemon. The term could probably best be

translated as Part of Occult. 4 The Arabic term sahm in the sense of “lot” or “share” instead of the literal meaning “arrow” could well have its

1 For a good visual demonstration of

origin in the pre-Islamic game of maysir that used real arrows to draw

the

movements

of

the

nodes

see http://www.astrologyclub.org/ar ticles/nodes/nodes.htm 2 The nodes as additional planets have

even found their way into objects of Islamic art, as has been

demonstrated by Willy Hartner, “The

the lot for the distribution of the parts of a slaughtered animal.

  • 5 Islamic astrology has different calculations for their position during the day and during the night.

  • 6 A detailed description including the method for calculating the position

Vaso

Vescovali

in

the

British

of these parts is in Biruni, Kitāb al-

Museum”,

in:

Kunst

des

Orients

tafhīm, no 475. Relevant sections of

IX1/2, 1972, pp. 100-130. An

the

webpage

example in

Indian

art

is

a

zodiac

design with seven planets and two

html are largely based on this book.

dragon nodes on a Hindu temple:

F.K.Ginzel, op.cit., vol.1, p.87 n.1.

See also: F.I.Haddad/D.Pingree/E.S. Kennedy, “Al-Bīrūnī‟s treatise on

30
30

An Ottoman Calendar

interested to know more about

this cryptic “science” is referred

to the abundant literature on astrology 1 . The following domiciles are recorded by Newcomb.exe for the real and virtual planets during the ascendancy of Gemini on 9./20.3.1740:

Pla

M

M

V

J

S

M

H

T

net

oo

er

e

u

at

ar

e

ai

n

cu

n

pi

u

s

a

l

ry

u

te

r

d

N

s

r