Lecture by Dr. Philip Bockholt, “The Many Persian and Turkish Versions of the Ḥabīb al-Siyar”


Date / Time 7 March 2023 (Tue) 3:30 PM–5:00 PM [GMT+9] (Doors open at 3:00 PM)
Venue in person (@8F of Hongo Satellite, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2-14-10 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033) Access
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*Pre-registration (deadline: 23:59 [GMT+9], 5 March 2023) is required for this lecture. → registration
Language English
Organized by NIHU Global Area Studies Program: The Global Mediterranean at ILCAA (Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa)
Contact gmed.ilcaa★gmail.com (Secretariat of the Global Mediterranean Project at ILCAA)
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3:30 PM–3:40 PM Introduction

3:40 PM–4:20 PM Dr. Philip Bockholt (WWU, Münster), “The Many Persian and Turkish Versions of the Ḥabīb al-Siyar”

4:20 PM–5:00 PM Discussion


Khvāndamīr’s general history Ḥabīb al-Siyar of 1524 was by far the most important historiographical work of the early Safavid and Mughal periods. Taking into account the political events that took place in Iran, Central Asia and India around 1500, I will first examine the manuscript tradition of the work and analyse in detail how the author adapted his chronicle to the Shiʿi and Sunni religio-political worldview of his Safavid and Mughal overlords. This will provide answers to the questions of how Khvāndamīr combined past events, how he understood “writing history” and what patterns he relied on to construct his work. Secondly, I will trace the Ḥabīb al-Siyar in its “Turkish garb” and shed light on its translation, which was commissioned by the Ottoman grand vizier Dāmād İbrāhīm Pasha in the 1720s, at a time when the Ottomans were at war with their Safavid neighbours. Since Khvāndamīr wrote the work for the Ottomans’ arch-enemies and gave it a Shiʿī orientation, the committee of several translators appointed by the grand vizier faced the challenge of translating explicitly anti-Ottoman and pro-Shiʿī sections within the text. In particular, I will focus on the translators’ approach to historical events that were of utmost importance to the Ottomans, such as Sultan Selīm’s victory over Shah Ismāʿīl at Chāldirān in 1514. The analysis will shed light on the relationships between scholars and patrons, as well as the transmission of texts against the respective religious and political backgrounds of the Eastern Mediterranean in the early modern period.

Profile of the lecturer

Philip Bockholt is Junior Professor for the History of the Turco-Persian world at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Münster (since October 2022). From 2022 to 2028, he will head the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group, “Inner-Islamic knowledge transfer in Arabic-Persian-Ottoman translation processes in the Eastern Mediterranean (1400–1750)” (cf. TRANSLAPT https://go.wwu.de/translapt). He was formerly a research associate at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the University of Leipzig and received his PhD in Islamic Studies from Freie Universität Berlin in 2018. His PhD dissertation examined historiography in Iran in the early Safavid period (16th century) and provided an analysis of Khvāndamīr’s Ḥabīb al-Siyar (Beloved of Careers) and its readership. It was published in two volumes by Brill (Leiden/Boston) as Weltgeschichtsschreibung zwischen Schia und Sunna (Writing World History between Shia and Sunna) and Austrian Academy of Sciences Press (Vienna) as Ein Bestseller der islamischen Vormoderne (A Bestseller of Pre-Modern Times) in 2021–2. A series of research fellowships took him to Istanbul, Jerusalem, Madrid, Paris and Saint Petersburg.