Pamuk, Orhan; Edrag Goknar(tr:.);
My Name Is Red (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi)
Alfred A. Knopf 2001 / Vintage Intl 2002 (Paperback, 432 pages $14.95)
topics: | fiction | turkey | nobel-2006
An epic tale of murder and a long-sought love, with a number of asides that mix in philosophy (islamic theories of art) with history. Set in the dying years of the Ottoman empire (rule of Sultan Murat III, 1574-95), the alternating first-person narrative revolves around an imperial guild of book illustrators with different artists subscribing to different styles and philosophies of art. In the Islamic world outside however, there is a lot of unease with illustration, since this is forbidden in Islam, and preachers like Nusret Hoja of Erzurum are whipping up the masses against these artistic enterprise itself.
Meanwhile one of the fraternity of artists has been murdered, most likely by a fellow artist. The motivation for the murder may have to do with a special illustration commissioned by the Sultan which would follow the techniques of the infidels [artists from renaissance venice] to use perspective and other modern techniques create images of high verisimilitude. It is being executed by Master Enishte who is the uncle of the protagonist Black. The word "enishte" means uncle (mother's brother, mAmA).
The story opens with the murdered man telling his own story, a section called "I am a corpse" (every section is titled "I am a ..."). Then we are shown how Black has just returned from travels to distant lands, and he seeks to impress Enishte's beautiful daughter Shekure, to whom he had once proposed through a painting, and whose husband has been missing for several years and may have been killed in battle. They exchange letters surreptitiously but while Shekure likes him more than any other suitor, she is not sure how strong her feelings are.
This love story unfolds against the background of the murder suspects being sought by the imperial police. The three suspects Olive, Stork, and Butterfly are leading artists in the guild. To understand their mind, we have to consider the various debates in Islamic art history (whether an artist needs to sign a work or not, can a painting exist without an accompanying story? how a personal style emerges, etc.), and we learn the story of legendary artists like Bihzad, and how they could sense the world even as they went blind. We get drawn into the story to try to see who the murderer might be - some episodes are from the murderer's perspective even. In the meanwhile, it turns out that Enishte himself may be in danger ...
The narrative takes frequent detours, which are essays that hold one's interest - this is what gives it an epic feel, rather like the Mahabharata descending from one story into another and then into another. Some of these pieces investigate the trajectory of a piece of money, a gold coin, sometimes a persian fable, or else the inner thoughts of a dog in a painting. miniature paintings. Left: from from the Sehinsahname (1581), executed by Nakkas Osman (shows a honorary robe-wearing ceremony for a vizier). Right: "Husrev beholding shirin bathing", mughal style painting, Hyderabad, c. 1725 [Library of Topkapi Palace museum / Davids Smaling collection ]
The story closely follows some aspects of the nakkashane or artists atelier, created during the reign of Murat III. Historical aspects in the story include the character of Nakkas Osman] (fl. 1595), who headed the royal atelier and was responsible for works such as the SehinsahnAme (see http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/ext/melcomintl/melcom/MI08/papersox08/Rukanci&Karakas.pdf One of the artists was the historical Velijan (Olive in the story). The painters Butterfly and Stork are given the names Hasan Chelebi (of the gunpowder district) and Mustafa Chelebi, but I am not sure if these names were adopted or not. There were painters known as Ali Chelebi in Murat III's times, and the famous Abdulcelil Chelebi a generation later. The period also saw a number of artists migrating to the Mughal courts, to set up the tradition of Mughal miniature painting there. Among them were the Saffavid minaturists Mīr Sayyid Ali and Abd-us-Samad, who emigrated to Humayun's court in exile at Kabul in 1545, and eventually to Delhi. They are noted for the illustrations of Dastan-e-Amir Hamzah.
transcribed from interview at BBC world book club. [Pamuk bio: "Transl into 40+ languages. Has won major literary awards in France, Ireland, Italy and Germany" ]
Pamuk: I like stories told from many POVs. inspired by : James Joyce's inner monologue, adapted by William Faulkner. Also Japanese film Rashomon [by Akira Kurosawa, based on the story, "In a grove", by Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927). Had seven characters describing the murder of a samurai, from completely different perspectives.] I like to adapt the voice of a person rather than describe it "objectively". [As a child, Pamuk was a great mimic, family would applaoud - would imitate the Greek shopgirl in the bazaar to mother.] Historical novels have a quality of "I know everything" which Pamuk hates - 3P voice is too academic. Here everyone is telling his own story, Pamuk is not the objective organizer.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Beginning of a novel is very crucial - "should represent essential qualities of the novel". Pamuk: Must also "hook the reader". Death speaks in the novel - 300 pages later - with a narrator that interviews the dead person. What is said is based on Islamic eschatology. (lit. 'study of the last') is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with what four ‘the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell’ [OED]) Pamuk is not happy with the name "murder fiction" for the book. The detective side of this book is commercial, in a bad way, though he tries to satisfy that part also.
Wanted to write about painters since he wanted to be a painter between the ages of 7 and 22. Contemporary Turkish painting would be too derivative of the West, since that is what it is. Wanted to highlight aspects of imitation, original, identity, artistic jealousy, innovation, etc. He read for two years, learning about the history. Miniature paintings were present before the 15th c. both in East and West. Perspectives, portraits, etc were the unstoppable strength of Renaissance painting. West has first realized its strength over the East in Art rather than Military. Eastern emperor's gave a lot of money to Bellini or Phillippo.
"With each book, in my mind's eye, I see an audience. This audience is there, looking over my shoulder. I want to avoid it, but it is there." With the intl audience, is he writing primarily for this large international audience? He also wants to please his audience. Discourse on the philosophy of who the author is writing for; Said's Orientalism - is he writing for the Western reader? Eventually, esp in the non-western world, the author becomes suspect in the eyes of his national audience.
Shekure is the name of his mother, and to some extent her character is based on his mother. His mother was happy because he described her as "the beautiful Shekure". His brother was a bit wary about the fights and beatings. In his previous books, woman readers told him that the women in his fiction were less convincing than his men. He was worried about not giving enough satisfying voices to his women's characters. This is an eternal problem. He used to read to his wife, and wife used to say - give us more Shekure. And her role grew because of this feedback.
Fundamentalism in 16th c. : late 16th c. coffee debate in Turkish literature - taught in High Schools. Coffee was introduced around the time of MNIR in Istanbul and in early 17th c., coffee houses were introduced, and were the first public placew where people from all classes met, discussed politics - and some Ottoman rulers were upset by the resistance. They wanted to ideologically legitimize the closing of coffee shops by saying that coffee is bad for the stomach, not in the Koran, etc. Even the liberals of the 16th c. were expressing their ideas through religion. Even Sufi saints were foreign (from Persia) and were being burnt. They were fundamentalists in today's sense, but of course they were called by different names.
Colours are not symbols for Pamuk - though there is a large literature on colour symbolism in Islamic art. He likes to point out strange peculiarities of immense objects when there is high drama going on in another place. "Essentially, because I have a painterly eye". People ask him this q about colours quite often, and he will be calling his coming book of essays as the called "The other colours" --- The book in part, is an attempt to "look at the cultural truth in art", Pamuk says (in this Feb 2010 interview) : In My Name is Red I wanted to create a panorama, to look at the spirit of the nation to look at the cultural truth in art. In The Black Book, I look at this spirit through the layers of Istanbul and the enigmas of history. In Snow I see the same culture through politics. from interview at BBC world service. [my transcriptions] -------
Before my birth there was infinite time, and after my death, inexhaustible time. I never thought of it before: I'd been living luminously between two eternities of darkness. 3 I made the best illuminations in Our Sultan's workshop, no one could rival my mastery. Through the work I did privately, I earned nine hundred silver coins a month, which, naturally, only makes all of this even harder to bear. ... I can't say it seems insignificant now. You know the value of money even when you're dead. 3 [When] I knew I would die, an incredible feeling of relief filled me. I felt this relief during the moment of departure; my arrival to this side was soothing, like the dream of seeing oneself asleep. The snow- and mud-covered shoes of my murderer were the last things I noticed. I closed my eyes as if I were going to sleep, and I gently passed over. 5 ... if the situation into which we've fallen were described in a book, even the most expert of miniaturists could never hope to illustrate it. As with the Koran - God forbid I'm misunderstood - the staggering power of such a book arises from the imposssibility of its being depicted. I doubt you're able to comprehend this fact. 6
[In a barber's shop] I noticed that the head washing basin, which hung by a chain from the ceiling, still traced the same old arc, swinging back and forth as he filled it with hot water. 8, Had my late mother seen the day when she'd have to spend three silver pieces for a dozen eggs, she'd say, "We ought to leave before the chickens grow so spoiled as to shit on us instead of the ground." 8 Nusret Hoja attributed the catestrophes that had befallen Istanbul ... to our having strayed from the path of the Prophet... 9
[Storyteller called a "curtain caller" - hangs up a picture of a dog] drawn on rough paper hastily, but with a certain elegance. [gives voice to the dog, and points occasionally at the painting. 10 [the shop owner] fondly watched me eat each bite as if he were feeding a cat. 10 For a dog, you see, there is nothing as satisfying as sinking his teeth into his miserable enemy in a fit of instinctual wrath. 10 [The dog commenting on Nusret Hoja's fiery sermons] When Muhammad lived, were the prayers called haughtily and pompously to show how close one's Arabic was to an Arab's? 11 to be human is to err 11 [Today the people] tie votive pieces of cloth everywhere, and make promises of sacrifrice in return for atonement... These dervishes, the Mevlevis, the Halvetis, the Kalendris and those who sing to the Koran to musical accompaniment ... are all kaffirs. [says Husret Hoja] with spittle flying from his mouth. 12 Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, [once] cut off a piece of his robe upon which a cat lay sleeping rather than wake the beast. 12 [Dog's voice:] In the lands of the infidel Franks, the so-called Europeans, every dog has an owner. These poor aniaals are paraded on the streets with chains around their necks, they're fettered like the most miserable of slaves and dragged around in isolation. ... Dogs who roam the streets of Istanbul freely in packs and communities, the way we do, dogs who threaten people if necessary, who can curl up on a warm corner or stretch out in the shade and sleep peacefully, and who can shit wherever they want and bite whomever they want, such dogs are beyond the infidels' conception. 14
I can't stand my street, so I walk on to another, and then another. As I stare at people's faces, I realize that many of them believe they're innocent because they haven't yet had the opportunity to snuff out a life. 15, I will be called a murderer Warming up with steaming coffee at the coffeehouse, [I was laughing at the story that the dog recounted]. Then I had the sensation that one of the men beside me was a common murderer like myself. Though he was simply laughing at the storyteller as I was, my intuition was sparked, either by the way his arm rested near mine or by the way he restlessly rapped his fingers on his cup. 16 I force myself to think of different things, just as I forced myself, writhing in embarrassment, to banish thoughts of women when performing prayers as an adolescent. But unlike those days of youthful fits when I couldn't get the act of copulation out of my thoughts, now, I can indeed forget the murder I've committed. 17
Husrev and Shirin: I refer to Nizami's version, not Firdusi's. ... [from an illustration by Bihzad, master of masters]. The lover's finally marry, but Shiruye, Husrev's son by his previous wife, has his eye on Shirin. Shiruye, of whom Nizami writes, "His breath had the stench of a lion's mouth," [imprisons his father and succeeds to the throne.] One night, entering the bedchamber of his father and Shirin, he feels his way in the dark, and finding the pair in bed, stabs his father on the chest with his dagger. The father's blood flows till dawn and he slowly dies in the bed with the beautiful Shirin, who remains sleeping peacefully beside him. 17 [signing pictures - is an ugliness. great master Bihzad:] "This is so Bihzad that there's no need for a signature." 18 What was venerated as style was nothing more than an imperfection or flaw that revealed the guilty hand. 18 I fear no one but Allah. It was He who provided us with reason that we might distinguish Good from Evil. 20 I struck him so swiftly and brutally that I was momentarily startled, as if the blow had landed on my own head. Aye, I felt his pain. 21 After i'd dropped him into the well, I contemplated how the crudeness of my deed did not in the least befit the grace of a miniaturist. 21
["Enishte" ==> Turkish for 'mAmA', maternal uncle; he's Black's Enishte, but everyone calls him Enishte. ] 22 his polite and demure habit of sitting before me with his knees respectfully together. [about Black] 22 the moment when Hüsrev spied the naked Shirin bathing in a lake at midnight: [most illustrators who] whimsically colored the lovers' horses and clothes without having read Nizami's poem, were motivated by nothing more than greed. 23 [Kashmiri handicraft] ... the folding X-shaped reading stand. 24 [I used to think] that painting without its accompanying story is an impossibility. [This has changed after seeing Venetian masters] 26
[in my imagination] I had widened Shekure's mouth out of desire and had imagined her lips to be more pert, fleshy and irrestistible, like a large, shiny cherry. 31, I am called Black If a lover's face survives emblazoned on your heart, the world is still your home. 31 Seeing Shekure's son up close and kissing him, aroused in me a restlessness peculiar to the luckless, to murderers, and to sinners. 32
[Esther is surprised that Shekure's letter is not to Hassan but to someone else ] 36 A letter does not communicate by words alone. A letter, just like a book, can be read by smelling it, touching it and fondling it. Thereby, intelligent folk will say, "Go on then, read what the letter tells you!" whereas the dull-witted will say, "Go on then, read what he's written!" 37 --- What else Shekure said: 1. Though I've sent this letter in secret, by relying on the commercial Esther, I am signifying that I don't intend to conceal that much at all. 2. That I've folded it up like a French pastry implies secrecy and mystery, true. But the letter isn't sealed and there's a huge picture enclosed. The apparent implication is, "Pray, keep our secret at all costs," which more befits an invitation to love than a letter of rebuke. 3. The smell of the letter confirms this - fragrance is faint enough to be ambiguous - did she intentionally perfume it? yet alluring enough to fire the reader's curiosity. 4. Although the flow of the script and the handwriting seems to say "I am rushed, writing carelessly" but these alphabets that twitter elegantly as if caught in a gentle breeze convey the exact opposite message. 5. the picture sent along with the letter depicts pretty Shirin gazing at handsome Husrev's image and falling in love, as told in the story ... --- It happens all the time to you fortunate literary people: A maiden who can't read begs you to read a love letter she's received. Th letter is so surprising, exciting and disturbing that it's owner, though embarrassed, ashamed, and distraught, asks you all the same to read it once more. In the end both of you have memorized it. Before long, she'll take the letter in her hands and ask, "Did he make that statement there?" and "Did he say that here?" As you point to the appropriate places, she'll pore over those passages, still unable to make sense of the words there... 38
sherbets made with ice said to have been brought all the way from snow-capped Mount Ulu... 40 in such situations reasonable people immediately sense that love without hope is simply hopeless... the illogical realm of the heart 40 a person never knows exactly what she herself is thinking ... sometimes I'll say something and realize upon uttering that it is of my own thinking, but no sooner than I arrive at that realization than I'm convinced that the very opposite is true. 41 I'm not sure how it happened, but later in the room with the closet, Orhan and I found ourselves hugging each other. Shevket joined us; there was a brief skirmish between them. As they tussled, we all rolled over onto the floor. I kissed them on the backs of their necks and their hair. I pressed them to my bosom and felt their weight on my breasts. 42 Mother, why did you wear your fine purple blouse?" Shevket said. I [changed out of my purple blouse] and pulled on the faded green one. As I was changing, I felt cold and shivered, but I could sense that my skin was aflame, my body vibrant and alive. 42 I shudder in delight when I think of two-hundred-year-old books, dating back to the time of Tamerlane, volumes for which acquisitive giaours gleefully relinquish gold pieces and which they carry all the way back to their own countries... 43 "Is it snowing?" he asked in such a faint and melancholy voice that I understood at once this would be the last snowfall my poor father would ever see. 47
[this section has a picture of a tree talking about miniature painting, its history and culture, competition among royalty for miniature artists, etc. ] one day when he had grown even older, he was possessed by a jinn, had a nervous fit, and begging God's forgiveness, completely swore off wine, handsome young boys and painting, which is proof enough that after this great shah lost his taste for coffee, he also lost his mind. 48 Cross-eyed Nedret Hoja of Sivas: coffee was the devil's work... "coffee is a sin, coffee is a vice... " 50 [Frank master: One could draw a tree in a forest such that if you could come here, and if desired,] correctly select that tree from among the others. ... I don't want to be a tree, I want to be its meaning. 51 [opposes this view of individuality;
Gazzali's The revival of religious science, two benefits of marriage: spared the guilt of self-abuse or of dragging oneself behind pimps leading through dark alleyways... 52 [with masturbation in mind,] I retired to a corner of the room, as was my wont, but after a while I realized I couldn't jack off -- proof well enough that I'd fallen in love again after twelve years! 52 As soon as Ismail assumed the throne, in a mad frenzy, he had his younger brothers strangled -- some of whome he had blindfolded beforehand. In the end however, Ismail's enemies succeeded in plying him with opium and poisoning him... 54 painters and colorists whose brushes made horses gallop at full speed and whose butterflies fluttered off the page... 55 [Osman suddenly switches topics and introduces Elegant Effendi's disappearance. ] 55 Nuri effendi had grown old in vain. 56 I saw the lion, representing Islam, chase away a gray-and-pink pig, symbolizing the cunning Christian infidel. 57 [they are talking about gilding; parag break: The shouts and screams of children could now be heard through the open door that faced the inner courtyard. 58 Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight. 59 [he wants] an individual painting technique, his own style? does he want to have a manner, an aspect distinct from others, and does he attempt to prove this by signing his name somewhere 60 Blindness is silence. 60 She took her baksheesh 61
This Khan loved only one of the women in his harem, and this striking Tatar woman, whom he loved madly, loved him in return. 62 [beautiful Tatar woman: see also Blue Wolf ] [The artist draws the Khan and his Tatar beauty in place of Leyla-Majnun, or Husrev-Shirin.] In the paintings which the Khan observed at length, he felt his former bliss had been disrupted in numerous ways... [Tatar beauty hangs herself]. The Khan, understanding the mistake he'd made and realizing that the miniaturists's own fascination with style lay behind gthe terrible incident, immediately blinded this master artist whom the Devil had tempted. - 63 story ALIF elderly Sultan, lived happily with his Chinese wife of unsurpassed beauty. [connections to China] 63, story BA [Sultan's son from earlier marriage, and his young Chinese wife, fall in love with each other. The guilty son starts to paint. ] Since he painted out of the sorrow and strength of his love, each of his paintings was so magnificent that admirers couldn't distinguish them from the work of the old masters. [Sultan praises his work to Chinese wife, who wants him to sign the pictures.] The Sultan responded, "If my son signs his paintings, won't he be saying 'My paintings bear my imperfections'?" [But CW convinces her stepson, who signs his name] in a corner of a painting, between wall and grass, in a spot he assumed was beyond notice. This, the first picture he signed, was a scene from Husrev and Shirin... after they are wed, Shiruye, Husrev's son from his first marriage falls in love with Shirin, [and stabs his father]. The Sultan reacted to the picture with the thought. "This painting bears a flaw." ... [he was] seized by a kind of panic, suspecting that this volume he was reading recounted not a story or a legend but what was most unbefitting a book: reality itself. When the elderly man sennsed this, he was overcome with terror. His illustrator son had entered through the window, as in the painting, and without even looking twice at his father's bulging eyes, swiftly drove his dagger -- as large as the one in the painting -- into the father's chest. 63-64, story BA In his history, Rashiduddin of Kazvin merrily writes that 250 years ago in Kazvin, manuscript illumination, calligraphy and illustration were the most esteemed and beloved arts. 64 story DJIM it is true that the old masters in their exquisite paintings, would depict beautiful maidens as Chinese, this is an unalterable rule come to us from the East.  ... imperfection gives rise to what we call 'style'. 65 The poverty, plague, immorality and scandal we are slave to in this city of Istanbul can only be attributed to our having distanced ourselves from the Islam of the time of Our Prophet, Apostle of God, to adopting new and vile customs and to allowing Frankish, European sensibilities to flourish in our midst. [sayings of the preacher Erzurumi] 68
Ibn Shakir believed these books would last till the end of the world, and, therefore, lived with a deep and infinite notion of time. [Endless time ==> endless, non-perspectival space] 69 [Books were destroyed by Hulagu's soldiers after sack of Baghdad 1258 month of Safar] the notion of endless time that had rested in the hearts of Arab calligrapher-scribes for 500 years would finally manifest itself not in writing, but in painting. 70
Akbar Khan, the emperor of Hindustan and the world's richest shah, is preparing what will one day become a legendary book. ... invited the world's greatest artists to join him. 75 To see is to know without remembering. 76 Persian poet Jami's Gift of Intimacy: story of artist who is blinded by Jihan Shah of the Blacksheep, so he cannot create a greater work. But he is able to do so, for neighbouring king Tall Hasan, from memory. Tall Hasan then routs and executes Jihan Shah. 76 Firdusi's Book of Kings / Nizami's Treasury of Secrets / Sadi's Rosegarden 78 We mistakenly assumed that these stories arose out of words and that illustrations were painted in service of these stories. Quite to the contrary, painting is the act of seeking out Allah's memories and seeing the world as He sees the world. - Ulug Bey 79 [Seyyit Mirek, mentor to the great master Bihzad]. According to master miniaturist Mirek, blindness wasn't a scourge, but rather the crowning reward bestowed by Allah upon the illuminator... Allah's vision of His world only becomes manifest through the memory of blind miniaturists. 80
Tell me then, does love make one a fool or do only fools fall in love? 82 Every idiot assumes there's a pressing circumstance about his love that necessitates particular haste, and thereby lays bare the intensity of his love, unwittingly putting a weapon into the hands of his beloved. If his lover is smart, she'll postpone the answer. The moral: haste delays the fruits of love. 82 linden tea: 82 http://www.herbcompanion.com/articles/02_03_05-stress Linden tea, a favorite in Turkey, has the same properties as chamomile. This tree grows wild in the foothills of Italy's mountains but also is widely used for parks and gardens. When the tree is in bloom in early June the sweet intoxicating fragrance can be almost overpowering and the whole canopy hums with happy bees. Linden honey is delicious and soothing. To make a relaxing bath, boil 1 1/2 cups linden flowers in 2 quarts of water for 5 minutes. Strain the fragrant water with a coffee filter. Fill your tub and add the linden water for a relaxing bath. You'll feel renewed and soothed from the day's stress ready for a pleasant night's sleep. Come get stunning shawls from Kashmir, my Bursa velvet sash cloth, my superb silk-edged Egyptian shirt cloth... 83
And, I must mind what I think about and say. Actually, I know that you're listening to me even when I'm mulling over matters in private. I can't afford careless contemplation of my frustrations or the incriminating details of my life. 98 [The murderer (one of Stork, Butterfly, Olive) sees Black whispering to Enishte. ] I thereupon thought how easy it was to end a life. My dear God, you've given each of us this unbelievable power, but you've also made us afraid to exercise it. Still if a man but once overcomes this fear and acts, he straightaway becomes an entirely different person. There was a time when I was terrified not only of the Devil, but of the slightest trace of evil within me. Now, however, I have the sense that evil can be endured, and moreover, that it's indispensable to an artist. After I killed that miserable excuse of a man, discounting the trembling in my hands which lasted only a few days, I drew better, I made use of brighter and bolder colours, and most important, realized that I could conjure up wonders in my imagination. 100-101 The larger and more colorful a city is, the more places there are to hide one's guilt and si; the more crowded it is, the more people there are to hide behind. A city's intellect ought to be measured not by its scholars, libraries, miniaturists, calligraphers and art schools, but by the number of crimes insidously committed on its dark streets over thousands of years. By this logic, doubtless, Istanbul is the world's most intelligent city. 101
Behold! I am a twenty-two-carat Ottoman Sultani gold coin and I bear the glorious insignia of His Excellency Our Sultan, Refuge of the World. 102 you bristle with envy at my owner, Master Stork. You're justified in behaving so, for there's no better measure of an illustrator's talent than I. 102 If you think you're better than Stork, then by all means, get hold of me.
"As if a virulent plague had struck, everyone was having his portrait made," he said. "In all of Venice, rich and influential men wanted their portraits painted as a symbol, a memento of their lives and a sign of their riches, power and influence -- so they might always be there, standing before us, announcing their existence, nay, their individuality and distinction." 107 Was there a noise somewhere in the house? 108 "It is the story that's essential," our wisest and most Glorious Sultan had said. "A beautiful illustration elegantly completes the story. An illustration that does not complement a story, in the end, will become but a false idol...." 109
shadow: the greatest of innovations manifest in the paintings of the Venetian masters 111 22 I Am Called Black 115 [This chapter presents a completely different view of events] 23 I Will Be Called a Murderer 120 when the evening prayer is called the jinns and demons within them will grow agitated and rebellious, urging in unision: "Out! Outside!" This restless inner voice demands, "Seek the company of others, seek blackness, misery and disgrace." 120 ... the torments of demons depicted by Chinese and Mongol master artists 121 Now, if I run ahead eight or ten paces, catch up to Black and land a blow onto his head with all my might, everything will go on as usual. Enishte Effendi will invite me to finish our book. 123 As I watched Black walking before me, however, I knew with utmost certainty that none of this would happen. It was all illusion. Black Effendi was more real than I. It happens to us all: In reaction to being overly logical we'll feed fantasies for weeks and years on end, and one day we'll see something, a face, an outfit, a happy person, and suddenly realize that our dreams will never come true... 124 Men like Black, free from pangs of conscience and with promising futures before them, assume that the entire world is their home; they open every door like a sultan entering his personal stable and immediately belittle those of us crouched inside. The urge to grab a stone and run up behind him was almost too great to resist. 124 We were two men in love with the same woman; he was in front of me and completely unaware of my presence as we walked through the turning and twisting streets of Istanbul, climbing and descending, we traveled like brethren through deserted streets given over to battling packs of stray dogs, passed burnt ruins where jinns loitered, mosque courtyards where angels reclined on domes to sleep, beside cypress trees murmuring to the souls of the dead, beyond the edges of snow-covered cemeteries crowded with ghosts, just out of sight of brigands strangling their victims, passed endless shops, stables, dervish houses, candle works, leather works and stone walls; and as we made ground, I felt I wasn't following him at all, but rather, that I was imitating him. 124
the old man excited the master miniaturist by flaunting the best paper from Hindustan, brushes made of squirrel hair, varieties of gold leaf, all manner of reed pens and coral-handled penknives, indicating that he would be able to pay handsomely. 125 No matter how masterful a miniaturist might be, when he paints an object for the first time, he'll render it as an apprentice would 125 "It's not experience of subject matter that makes us masters, it's never having experienced it that makes us masters." 126 What we essentially want is to draw something unknown to us in all its shadowiness, not something we know in all its illumination. 127 "Venetians die like Venetians," "All our deaths resemble one another" 126 [after the illustrator does the painting] Later, he regretted what he'd done. Not due to the terror with which he'd imbued his picture, but because he dared to make the illustration at all. It must've even dawned on him, as it does now on some of the imbeciles who have tired of me and are smiling: Death is no laughing matter. 128
There's nothing I'd trade for the pleasure of delivering letters to lovers addled by loneliness or the lack of wife or husband. Even if they're certain of receiving the worst news, when they're about to read the letter, a shudder of hope overcomes them. 132 Once one accepts evil-- and rejection in love is a significant cause for doing so -- cruelty follows quickly. 132,
I was in the midst of folding [clothes] yesterday when Hayriye announced Esther had come... or this was what I planned to tell you. But why should I lie? All right then, when Esther arrived, I was spying on my father and Black through the closet peephole. 135 Shevket to Orhan: You only attack from behind Orhan: My tooth is loose [DISJOINTED] 137 Enishte: After beholding the portraits of the Ventian masters, we realize with horror that, in painting, eyes can no longer simply be holes in a face, always the same, but must be just like our own eyes, be holes in a face, always the same, but must be just like our own eyes, which reflect light like a mirror and absorb it like a well. Lips can no longer be a crack in the middle of faces flat as paper, but must be nodes of expression -- each a different shade of red -- fully expressing our joys, sorrows and spirits with their slightest contraction or relaxation. 137 [Shekure is peeping at Black talking to Enishte in the room below; Black is talking] Just then, when I saw that he'd opened his pink mouth as a child would have, I unexpectedly felt, yes, like putting my breast into it. With my fingers on his nape and tangled in his hair, Black would place his head between my breasts, and as my own children used to do, he'd roll his eyes back into his head with pleasure as he sucked on my nipple. After understanding that only through my compassion would he find peace, he'd become completely bound to me. 138 I perspired faintly and imagined Black marveling at the size of my breasts with surprise and intensity-- rather than studying the illustration of the Devil that my father was actually showing him. I, Shekure 138 When I closed my eyes again -- Allah, it wasn't my own desire-- in my thoughts, Black had approached me so sweetly that in the dark I could feel him beside me. Suddenly, I sensed that he'd come up from behind me, he was kissing the nape of my neck, the back of my ears, and I could feel how strong he was. He was solid, large and hard, and I could lean on him. I felt secure. My nape tingled, my nipples were stiffening. It seemed as if there in the dark, with my eyes closed, I could feel his enlarged member behind me, close to me. My head spun. What was Black's like? I wondered. --p.138 At times in my dreams, my husband in his agony shows his to me. I come to the awareness that my husband is struggling to keep his bloody body, lanced and shot with Persian arrows, walking upright as he approaches. But sadly, there is a river between us. As he calls to me from the opposite bank, covered in blood and suffering terribly, I notice that he has become erect. If it's true what the Georgian bride said at the public bath, and if there's truth to what the old hags say, "Yes, it grows that large," then my husband's wasn't so big. If Black's is bigger, if that enormous thing I saw under Black's belt when he took up the empty piece of paper I'd sent him by Shevket yesterday; if that was actually it -- and surely it was-- I'm afraid I'll suffer great pain, if it even fits inside me at all. 138-9 [Shekure goes out to meet Black, for the first time after childhood, in the desolate house of the Handed Jew.] "Remove your veil," he said in a whisper. "Please." "I'm married. I'm awaiting my husband's return." "Remove your veil," he said in the same tone. "Your husband won't ever come back." "Have you arranged to meet me here to tell me this?" "Nay, I've done so to be able to see you. I've been thinking of you for twelve years. Remove your veil, my darling, let me look at you just once." I removed it. I was pleased as he silently studied my face and stared at length into the depths of my eyes. 147 ... at the time my appreciation of the magic of what he said was purely visceral and it bound me to him. I felt guilty for having caused him such pain for twelve years. What a honey-tongued man! What a good person this Black was! Like an innocent child! I could read all of this from his eyes. The fact that he loved me so much made me trust him. 148 We embraced. This so pleased me that I felt no guilt. I let myself be borne away by sweet emotion. I hugged him tighter. I let him kiss me, and I kissed him back. 148 Let me describe for you how our embrace might've been depicted by the master miniaturists of Herat, if this tragic story of mine were one day recorded in a book. There are certain amazing illustrations that my father has shown me wherein the thrill of the script's flow matches the swaying of the leaves, the wall ornamentation is echoed in the design of the border gilding and the joy of the swallow's matchless wings piercing the picture's border suggests the elation of the lovers. 148 Thank God I've seen enough of life to know that such well-being never lasts for long. Black sweetly took my large breasts into his hands. This felt good and, forgetting all, I longed for him to suck on my nipples. But he couldn't quite manage it, because he wasn't sure of what he was doing... But when he grabbed my thighs to pull me close, pressing his large hardened manhood against my stomach, I liked it at first: I was curious. I wasn't embarrassed. I told myself that an embrace such as we'd had would naturally lead to another such as this. And though I turned my head away, I couldn't take my widening eyes off its size. [fellatio] Later still, when he abruptly tried to force me to perform that vulgar act that even Kipchak women and concubines who tell stories at the public baths wouldn't do, I froze in astonishment and indecision. "Don't furrow your brow, my dear," he begged. I stood up, pushed him away and began shouting at him without paying the slightest heed to his disappointment. 148-9
Within the darkness of the house of the Hanged Jew, Shekure furrowed her brow and began raving that I might easily stick the monstrosity I held in my hands into the mouths of Circassian girls I'd met in Tiflis, Kipchak harlots, poor brides sold at inns, Turkmen and Persian widows, common prostitutes whose numbers were increasing in Istanbul, lecherous Mingerians, coquettish Abkhazians, Armenian shrews, Genoese and Syrian hags, thespians passing as women and insatiable boys, but it would not go into hers. She angrily accused me of having lost all sense of decorum and self-control by sleeping with all manner of cheap, pathetic riffraff -- from Persia to Baghdad and from the alleyways of small hot Arabian towns to the shores of the Caspian -- and of having forgotten that some women still took pains to maintain their honor. All my words of love, she charged, were insincere. A few dogs, not too far away, giving themselves over completely to whatever they were up to, began barking excitedly. 152 "I was, of course, certain to be married off to someone," she said. This was true, and it succinctly and cleverly explained her marriage in a way that avoided praising her husband and upsetting me. We kissed. This time I didn't find myself immobilized by a staggering yoke of lust; both of us were stunned by the fluttering -- like a flock of sparrows -- of a powerful love that had entered our hearts, chests and stomachs. Isn't lovemaking the best antidote to love? 154 As I palmed her large breasts, Shekure pushed me away in an even more determined and sweeter way than before. She implied that I wasn't a mature-enough man to maintain a trustworthy marriage with a woman that I'd sullied beforehand.
In place of an answer, he gestured very delicately and elegantly with his hand -- as if to warn me there was a child sleeping in the room... 159 [Islamic eschatology] "You know quite well why! Because they remembered Our Prophet's warning that on Judgment Day, Allah will punish painters most severely." "Not painters," corrected Enishte Effendi. "Those who make idols. And this not from the Koran but from Bukhari." "On Judgment Day, the idol makers will be asked to bring the images they've created to life," I said cautiously. "Since they'll be unable to do so their lot will be to suffer the torments of Hell. Let it not be forgotten that in the Glorious Koran, "creator" is one of the attributes of Allah. It is Allah who is creative, who brings that which is not into existence, who gives life to the lifeless. No one ought to compete with Him. The greatest of sins is committed by painters who presume to do what He does, who claim to be as creative as He." 160 We owe Bihzad and the splendor of Persian painting to the meeting of an Arabic illustrating sensibility and Mongol-Chinese painting. Shah Tahmasp's best paintings marry Persian style with Turkmen subtleties. 160-1 However, in the books he perused, he increasingly discovered imitations inspired by him rather than his original work. In later years, he came to realize that two generations of artists had adopted as models of form the illustrations he himself had renounced, ... At the end of his life, as the Master of Isfahan burned his own art, he not only witnessed the fact that his work, instead of disappearing, actually proliferated and increased; he understood that everybody now saw the world the way he had seen it. 161 Those things which did not resemble the paintings he made in his youth were now considered ugly. 161 A great painter does not content himself by affecting us with his masterpieces; ultimately, he succeeds in changing the landscape of our minds. Once a miniaturist's artistry enters our souls this way, it becomes the criterion for the beauty of our world. 161 Had I lived this exact moment long ago? In a distant city, at a time which now seemed far from me, as a snow that I couldn't see fell, by the light of a candle, I was attempting to explain through tears that I was entirely innocent to a crotchety old dotard, who'd accused me of stealing paint. Back then, just as now, dogs began to howl as if they'd smelled blood. And I understood from Enishte Effendi's great chin, befitting an evil old man, and from his eyes, which he was finally able to fix mercilessly into mine, that he intended to crush me. I recalled this tattered memory from when I was a ten-year-old miniaturist's apprentice like a picture whose outlines are clear but whose colors have faded. Thus was I living the present as though it were a distinct but faded memory.
[history of painting / styles] A prince dies, a shah loses a battle, a seemingly never-ending era ends, a workshop is closed and its members disband, searching for other homes and other bibliophiles to become their patrons. One day, a compassionate sultan will assemble these exiles, these bewildered but talented refugee miniaturists and calligraphers, in his own tent or palace and begin to establish his own book-arts workshop. Even if these artists, unaccustomed to one another, continue at first in their respective painting styles, over time, ... they'll quarrel, bond, struggle and compromise. The birth of a new style is the result of years of disagreements, jealousies, rivalries ... 167-68 We agreed that if the Mongols hadn't brought the secrets of red paint -- which they'd learned from Chinese masters -- to Khorasan, Bukhara and Herat, we in Istanbul couldn't make these paintings at all. 169 They depict what the eye sees just as the eye sees it. Indeed, they paint what they see, whereas we paint what we look at. 170 Bindings will fall apart and pages will drop out. Women lighting their stoves, thieves, indifferent servants and children will thoughtlessly tear out the pages and pictures. Child princes will scrawl over the illustrations with toy pens. They'll blacken people's eyes, wipe their runny noses on the pages, doodle in the margins with black ink. And religious censors will blacken out whatever is left. They'll tear and cut up our paintings, perhaps use them to make other pictures or for games and such entertainment. While mothers destroy the illustrations they consider obscene, fathers and older brothers will jack off onto the pictures of women and the pages will stick together... 171 Just before I died, I actually longed for my death... Nonetheless, I was overcome with the indecision of a man about to take a long journey and unable to refrain from taking one last glance at his room, at his belongings and his home. 175
it suddenly seemed that the elongated shadows we were casting by the light of the oil lamp belonged to others. Most frightening of all was the horror that overcame us like a silent act of piety, as we solemnly washed his bloodied face and changed his clothes 184
Color is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness. Because I've listened to souls whispering -- like the susurrus of the wind -- from book to book and object to object for tens of thousands of years, allow me to say that my touch resembles the touch of angels. Part of me, the serious half, calls out to your vision while the mirthful half soars through the air with your glances. 186 I do not conceal myself: For me, delicacy manifests itself neither in weakness nor in subtlety, but through determination and will. So, I draw attention to myself. I'm not afraid of other colors, shadows, crowds or even of loneliness. How wonderful it is to cover a surface that awaits me with my own victorious being! Wherever I'm spread, I see eyes shine, passions increase, eyebrows rise and heartbeats quicken. Behold how wonderful it is to live! Behold how wonderful to see. Behold: Living is seeing. 186 [preparing the red paint:] ... furiously pounded the best variety of dried red beetle from the hottest climes of Hindustan into a fine powder using his mortar and pestle. He prepared five drachmas of the red powder, one drachma of soapwort and a half drachma of lotor. He boiled the soapwort in a pot containing three okkas of water. Next, he mixed thoroughly the lotor into the water. He let it boil for as long as it took to drink an excellent cup of coffee. ... He sprinkled the red powder into the kettle and carefully mixed the concoction with one of the thin, clean sticks reserved for this task. I was ready to become genuine red, but the issue of my consistency was of utmost importance: The liquid shouldn't be permitted to just boil away. He drew the tip of his stirring stick across the nail of his thumb (any other finger was absolutely unacceptable). Oh, how exquisite it is to be red! 187 "But, what if we'd been born blind? How would we have been truly able to comprehend this red that our handsome apprentice is using?" "An excellent issue," the other said. "But do not forget that colors are not known, but felt." "My dear master, explain red to somebody who has never known red." "If we touched it with the tip of a finger, it would feel like something between iron and copper. If we took it into our palm, it would burn. If we tasted it, it would be full-bodied, like salted meat. If we took it between our lips, it would fill our mouths. If we smelled it, it'd have the scent of a horse. If it were a flower, it would smell like a daisy, not a red rose." 187-199 ... as the cat-hair brush spreads me onto the waiting page, I become delightfully ticklish. Thereby, as I bring my color to the page, it's as if I command the world to "Be!" 188
Marriage douses love's flame, leaving nothing but a barren and melancholy blackness. Of course, after marriage, love itself will vanish anyway; but happiness fills the void. Still, there are those hasty fools who fall in love before marrying and, burning with emotion, exhaust all their feeling, believing love to be the highest goal in life." "What, then, is the truth of the matter?" "The truth is contentment. Love and marriage are but a means to obtaining it: a husband, a house, children, a book. Can't you see that even in my state, with a missing husband and a deceased father, I'm better off than you in your isolation? I'd die without my sons, with whom I spend my days laughing, tussling and loving. 191
I changed five of the Venetian Lions at a perpetually smiling Jewish money changer. 193 [I was quite pleased to] divide our daylong adventure into four scenes, imagining each in the illustrated pages of my mind. 195 I explained, my Enishte's time was upon him, and according to his last wish, I was to marry his daughter, who, by decision of the Üsküdar judge, had just been granted a divorce from a husband lost at war. The preacher objected that by the dictates of Islamic law a divorced woman must wait a month before remarrying, but I countered by explaining that Shekure's former husband had been absent for four years; and so, there was no chance she was pregnant by him. 199 the wedding guests dispersed, having heartily partaken of the walnuts, almonds, dried fruit leather, comfits and clove candy. 204
[with Orhan on her lap] As occasionally happened, I had the urge to take out my breast and nurse him. 208
Ignore the fact that I'm standing here placid and still; if truth be told, I've been galloping for centuries; I've passed over plains, fought in battles, carried off the melancholy daughters of shahs to be wed; I've galloped tirelessly page by page from story to history, from history to legend and from book to book. 216
[list of things he sees from beyond death] a portly woman in the new Langa bazaar holding a huge head of cabbage like a child she was about to nurse 231
I noticed a dog, more meaningful than all the pictures of dogs I'd ever seen. I saw a horse, a lesser creation than what my master miniaturists might make. I spied a plane tree in the Hippodrome, the same tree whose leaves I'd just now accented with tones of purple. 234
"But didn't the great masters also create their masterpieces from memory without ever even looking at real horses, trees or people?" said Black. "True," I said, "but those are memories acquired after years of thought, contemplation and reflection. Having seen plenty of horses, illustrated and actual, over their lifetimes, they know that the last flesh-and-blood horse they see before them will only mar the perfect horse they hold in their thoughts. 252 genuine artists have an instinctive desire to draw what's forbidden! 253 Attributes of Olive: His given name was Velijan. [note: Velijan is a historical character, a noted miniaturist who started in the nakkashane of Nakkas Osman; he was one of the popular miiaturists of 17th c. Istanbul. (see wiki article, Ottoman miniature) ] I believe, ten years old, was trained by Siyavush, the famous illustrator specializing in faces in the Persian Shah's Tabriz workshop. He hails from a long line of masters whose genealogy goes back to the Mongols, and just like the elderly masters who bore a Mongol-Chinese influence and settled in Samarkand, Bukhara and Herat 150 years ago, he rendered moon-faced young lovers as if they were Chinese. 156 Contrary to what is commonly believed, all murderers are men of extreme faith rather than unbelievers. 157 Manuscript illumination leads to painting, and painting, in turn, leads to -- God forbid -- challenging Allah. The Attributes of Butterfly Hasan Chelebi from the Gunpowder Factory district There are times when I think Allah wants the world to be seen the way Butterfly illustrates it, that He wants life to be jubilation. Indeed, this is a realm where colors harmoniously recite magnificent ghazals to each other, where time stops, where the Devil never appears. 259 in his work everything was as joyous as a holiday, but devoid of depth. Child princes and senile old harem women on the verge of death enjoy his paintings, not men of the world forced to struggle with evil. 259
[letter ending with: Your wife, Shekure] I carefully read the last three words of this beautiful note thrice as if staring at three wondrous red roses in a garden. 265 As Jemalettin of Kazvin wrote in his The Illustration of Horses, one can properly complete a picture of a horse beginning from its hoof only if he carries the entire horse in his memory. 267
Like everyone else I, too, kissed my companions on the cheeks with exaggerated gestures, 283 I had the urge to say, "It was Satan who first said "I"! It was Satan who adopted a style. It was Satan who separated East from West." 287
I am fond of the smell of red peppers frying in olive oil, rain falling into a calm sea at dawn, the unexpected appearance of a woman at an open window, silences, thought and patience. 287 While all the other angels bowed before man, I refused. I reminded all that Adam was made from mud, whereas I was created from fire, a superior element as all of you are familiar. So I didn't bow before man. And God found my behavior, well, "proud." 288 Even the Almighty couldn't find anything evil in passing wind or jacking off. 289
There, in the dark, without pity, I sensed how my words were driving into his flesh like nails -- as the poet Fuzuli had once put it. "I'm cold." Did I actually say this, I can't remember. We began to kiss. Embracing him in the dark, still holding the candle in one hand, I took his velvety tongue into my mouth, and my tears, my hair, my nightgown, my trembling and even his body were full of wonder. Warming my nose against his hot cheek was also pleasant; but this timid Shekure restrained herself. As I was kissing him, I didn't let myself go or drop the candle, but thought of my father, who was watching me, and of my former husband, and my children asleep in bed. 294
[in the Sultan's library] "Frightened?" asked the elderly dwarf, giving voice to my feelings. "Everybody is frightened on their first visit. At night the spirits of these objects whisper to each other." What was frightening was the silence in which this abundance of incredible objects was interred. 299 At times, a bird's wing, the way a leaf holds to a tree, the curves of eaves, the way a cloud floats or the laugh of a woman is preserved for centuries by passing from master to disciple and being shown, taught and memorized over generations. 304
... the account of the Persian scholar who learned chess simply by looking at a chess set brought by the ambassador from Hindustan, before defeating the Hindu master at his own game! A Persian lie! 321 The turqoise and mother-of-pearl-handled golden plume needle which the venerated Talent of Herat, Master of Master Illuminators Bihzad, used in the act of blinding his exalted self. [description of item in Sultan's treasury, listed among gifts presented to the Sultan Selim on his inauguration.] 322 I bravely, calmly and firmly pressed the needle into the pupil of my right eye. My innards sank, not because I felt what I was doing, but because I saw what I was doing. I pushed the needle into my eye to the depth of a quarter the length of a finger, then removed it. In the couplet worked into the frame of the mirror, the poet had wished the observer eternal beauty and wisdom -- and eternal life to the mirror itself. Smiling, I did the same to my other eye. 324 [Note: Osman is based on the 16th century miniature painter Nakkaş Osman, head of the nakkashane or studio producing miniature paintings. ]
There before me was a horse with peculiar nostrils carrying a coquettish bride. The beast was looking at me out of the picture. It was as though the magical horse were on the verge of whispering a secret to me. As if in a dream, I wanted to shout, but my voice was silent. 327 "The nostrils of the horse are cut open," he said later, breathless. ... "Cutting open the nostrils of horses so they might breathe easier and travel farther is a centuries-old Mongol custom," 328,329 [evolution of a style; convention] .. two hundred years ago when the Mongols retreated and the reign of Tamerlane and his descendants began, one of the old masters in Herat drew an exquisite horse whose nostrils were indeed cut open ... I'm sure that the book and picture were greatly admired and praised -- who knows, maybe by the sultan's favorite in the harem ... In this fashion, the wonderful horse with its nostrils gradually became a model of form ingrained in the minds of the artists in that workshop. in this manner, even after the Mongols and their hardy horses retreated from the lands of the Persians and Arabs, even centuries after new lives had begun in ravaged and burned cities, some painters continued drawing horses this way, believing it was a standard form. 331 like the last wish of a disconsolate weary pasha who was responsible for military defeat and condemned to beheading. 335 How many men and women had fingers in their mouths! This was used as a gesture of surprise in all the workshops from Samarkand to Baghdad over the last two hundred years. 336 [How icons become conventionalized and turn into symbols] An astonished Hüsrev's finger remained in his mouth as he saw for the first time the beauty of Shirin, whose skin was like moonlight as she bathed in the once glimmering lake whose silver leaf had tarnished. 336
Seeing a woman's bare face, speaking to her, and witnessing her humanity opens the way to both pangs of lust and deep spiritual pain in us men 352 In the cities of the European Franks, women roam about exposing not only their faces, but also their brightly shining hair (after their necks, their most attractive feature), their arms, their beautiful throats, and even, if what I've heard is true, a portion of their gorgeous legs; as a result, the men of those cities walk about with great difficulty, embarrassed and in extreme pain, because, you see, their front sides are always erect and this fact naturally leads to the paralysis of their society. Undoubtedly, this is why each day the Frank infidel surrenders another fortress to us Ottomans. 352 After I understood to some extent what it was like to have breasts, I stuffed my chest with whatever I could find -- socks and washcloths -- so I might understand what really made me curious: how it felt to be a large-breasted woman. ... I understood at once that men, merely catching sight of the shadow of my overabundant breasts, would chase after them and strive to take them into their mouths; I felt quite powerful, but is that what I wanted? I was befuddled: I wanted both to be powerful and to be the object of pity; I wanted a rich, powerful and intelligent man, whom I didn't know from Adam, to fall madly in love with me; yet I also feared such a man. 353
sibling rivalry, as in the Book of Kings, is always provoked by an unjust father 364 Nimetullah Effendi the Nakshibendi's Persian dictionary 365 [The 1540 work by Nimetullah Efendi (Lügat-i Nimetullah) from Persian to Turkish] layer upon layer of carefully trimmed Hindustan paper 365 [Hindustan paper that was valued - is this a type of vellum?]
In this picture, objects weren't depicted according to their importance in Allah's mind, but as they appeared to the naked eye -- the way the Franks painted. This was the first transgression. The second was depicting Our Sultan, the Caliph of Islam, the same size as a dog. 391 I used to believe quite sincerely that we Ottoman artists could comfortably take from this or that aspect of the Frankish methods as much as our hearts desired or as much as could be seen during a visit abroad -- without bartering with the Devil or bringing any great harm upon us. 394 In one smooth motion, without losing speed, the sword cut first through my hand and then clear through my neck, lopping off my head. 404
In the hopes that he might pen this story, which is beyond depiction, I've told it to my son Orhan. ... don't be taken in by Orhan if he's drawn Black more absentminded than he is, made our lives harder than they are, Shevket worse and me prettier and harsher than I am. For the sake of a delightful and convincing story, there isn't a lie Orhan wouldn't deign to tell. 413 1990-92, 1994-98
336-330 B.C.: Darius rules in Persia. last king of the Achaemenids, loses empire to Alexander 336-323 B.C.: Alexander's empire: conquers Persia, invades India. exploits become legendary in Islamic world even till modern times. 622: The Hegira. emigration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina 1010: Firdusi (c.935-1020): Book of Kings presented to Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. episodes on Persian myth and history -- Alexander's invasion, tales of the hero Rüstem, struggle between Persia and Turan - inspired miniaturists since 14th c. 1206-1227: Genghis Khan c.1141-1209: Persian poet Nizami. romantic epic the Quintet: stories of miniaturist inspiration: The Treasury of Mysteries, Hüsrev and Shirin, Leyla and Mejnun, The Seven Beauties and The Book of Alexander the Great. 1258: Sack of Baghdad. Hulagu (reigned 1251-1265), the grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered Baghdad. [Hulagu Khan's armies conquered all of Arabia, Persia and China with their horses. ... they entered Baghdad, put its inhabitants to the sword, plundered it and tossed all its books into the Tigris, as we know...329 Three hundred fifty years ago, when Baghdad fell to the Mongols and was mercilessly plundered on a cold day in the month of Safar, Ibn Shakir was the most renowned and proficient calligrapher and scribe not only of the whole Arab world but of all Islamdom... Ibn Shakir ascended the minaret of the Caliphet Mosque in the coolness of morning, and from the balcony where the muezzin called the faithful to prayer, witnessed all that would end a five-centuries-long tradition of scribal art. First, he saw Hulagu's pitiless soldiers enter Baghdad, and yet he remained where he was atop the minaret. He watched the plunder and destruction of the entire city, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, the killing of the last of the Caliphs of Islam who'd ruled Baghdad for half a millennium, the rape of women, the burning of libraries and the destruction of tens of thousands of volumes as they were thrown into the Tigris. 69 ] 1300-1922: The Ottoman Empire. Sunni Muslims. Southeastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa. 1370-1405: Turkic ruler Tamerlane. Subdued the areas that the Blacksheep ruled in Persia. Tamerlane conquered areas from Mongolia to the Mediterranean including parts of Russia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq; in Anatolia, defeated the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid I in 1402. 1370-1526: The Timurid Dynasty in Persia, central Asia and Transoxiana. brilliant revival of artistic and intellectual life. schools of miniature painting at Shiraz, Tabriz and Herat. early 15th c Herat was center of painting and home to great master Bihzad. 1375-1467: Blacksheep, a Turkmen tribal federation, ruled over parts of Iraq, eastern Anatolia and Iran. Jihan Shah (reign 1438-67), last Blacksheep ruler, defeated by the Whitesheep Tall Hasan in 1467. 1378-1502: Whitesheep federation of Turkmen tribes rule northern Iraq, Azerbaijan and eastern Anatolia. Whitesheep ruler Tall Hasan (reign 1452-78) fails in attempts to contain the eastward expansion of the Ottomans, but defeats Jihan Shah in 1467 and the Timurid Abu Said in 1468, extending his dominions to Baghdad, Herat, and the Persian Gulf. 1453: Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul. Demise of the Byzantine Empire. Sultan Mehmet later commissioned his portrait from Bellini. 1501-1736: Safavid Empire in Persia. Shia Islam as the state religion helps unify the empire. Seat of the empire at first in Tabriz, then to Kazvin, and later, to Isfahan. first Safavid ruler, Shah Ismail (reign 1501-24), subdues the Whitesheep areas in Azerbaijan and Persia. Persia weakens appreciably during Shah Tahmasp I (reign 1524-76). [In the text, Shah Tahmasp comes up very frequently; clearly a big patron of miniaturists. Is it often in history, that the more artistic minded kings are mulitarily weak?] 1512: The Flight of Bihzad. The great miniaturist emigrates from Herat to Tabriz. 1514: The Plunder of the Seven Heavens Palace. The Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim, defeats Safavid army at Chaldiran, plunders the Seven Heavens Palace in Tabriz. Returns to Istanbul with an exquisite collection of Persian miniatures and books. 1520-66: Süleyman the Magnificent and the Golden Age of Ottoman Culture. Conquests include the first seige of Vienna (1529) and the capture of Baghdad from the Safavids (1535). 1556-1605: Reign of Akbar in Hindustan, descendant of Tamerlane and Genghis Khan. Established miniaturists' workshops in Agra. 1566-74: Ottoman Sultan Selim II. Peace treaties signed with Austria and Persia. 1571: The Battle of Lepanto. A four-hour naval battle between allied Christian forces and the Ottomans subsequent to the Ottoman invasion of Cyprus (1570). Ottomans were defeated, but Venice surrendered Cyprus to the Ottomans in 1573. The battle had great impact on European morale and was the subject of paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. [Often regarded as the decisive battle that turned the tide against Ottoman domination of Europe.] 1574-95: Ottoman Sultan Murat III (MNIR events during his rule) Witnesses a series of struggles between 1578-90 known as the Ottoman-Safavid wars. The Ottoman sultan most interested in miniatures and books, had the Book of Skills, the Book of Festivities and the Book of Victories produced in Istanbul by prominent Ottoman miniaturists, including Osman the Miniaturist (Master Osman) and disciples. 1576: Shah Tahmasp's Peace Offering to the Ottomans. After decades of hostility, Safavid Shah Tahmasp made a present to the Ottoman Sultan Selim II upon the death of Süleyman the Magnificent in an attempt to foster future peace. Gifts sent to Edirne include an exceptional copy of the Book of Kings, produced over a period of twenty-five years. The book was later transferred to the Treasury in the Topkapi Palace. 1583: The Persian miniaturist Velijan (Olive), about ten years after coming to Istanbul, is commissioned to work for the Ottoman court. 1587-1629: Reign of the Safavid Persian ruler Shah Abbas I, begins by deposing his father Muhammad Khodabandeh. Shah Abbas reduced Turkmen power in Persia by moving the capital from Kazvin to Isfahan. Made peace with the Ottomans in 1590. 1591: A year before the thousandth anniversary (calculated in lunar years) of the Hegira, Black returns to Istanbul from the east, beginning the events in MNIR. 1603-17: Reign of Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, who destroyed the large clock with statuary sent to the sultan as a present by Queen Elizabeth I.
[Story told in 20 different voices, each chapter starting like "I am ..."] 1 I am a Corpse 3 2 I am called Black 6 3 I am a Dog 10 4 I will be called a murderer 15 5 I am your beloved Uncle 22 6 I am Orhan 27 7 I am called Black 31 8 I am Esther 35 9 I, Shekure 38 10 I am a Tree 47 11 I am called Black 51 12 I am called "Butterfly" 61 13 I am called "Stork" 68 14 I am called "Olive" 75 15 I am Esther 82 16 I, Shekure 86 17 I am your beloved Uncle 91 18 I will be called a murderer 96 19 I am a Gold Coin 102 20 I am called Black 107 21 I am your beloved Uncle 110 22 I am called Black 115 23 I will be called a murderer 120 24 I am Death 125 25 I am Esther 129 26 I, Shekure 135 27 I am called Black 149 28 I will be called a murderer 154 29 I am your beloved Uncle 165 30 I, Shekure 177 31 I am Red 185 32 I, Shekure 188 33 I am called Black 193 34 I, Shekure 205 35 I am a Horse 216 36 I am called Black 219 37 I am your beloved Uncle 228 38 It is I, Master Osman 232 39 I am Esther 240 40 I am called Black 245 41 It is I, Master Osman 249 42 I am called Black 264 43 I am called "Olive" 273 44 I am called "Butterfly" 275 45 I am called "Stork" 277 46 I will be called a murderer 279 47 I, Satan 287 48 I, Shekure 291 49 I am called Black 295 50 We two Dervishes 306 51 It is I, Master Osman 309 52 I am called Black 324 53 I am Esther 339 54 I am a Woman 352 55 I am called "Butterfly" 356 56 I am called "Stork" 367 57 I am called "Olive" 374 58 I will be called a murderer 383 59 I, Shekure 409 Chronology 415
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