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Publisher: Ali SEREF PASA
Title: [Title in Ottoman Turkish: WEST AFRICA AND THE MAGHREB].
Published in: Beyazit, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Amire 1311 or 1895
Size: 15.0 x 19.1 inches.
38.0 x 48.5 cm.

In original printed colours.
Condition: Colour Lithograph. Very good, original centerfold, light toning.
Condition Rating

A fine Ottoman map of West Africa and the Maghreb from Ali Seref Pasa’s rare ‘Yeni cografya atlasi’, published by the press of Matbaa-i Amire, the successor of Ibrahim Muteferrika’s printing house; one of the largest and most detailed Ottoman general maps of the region.

This attractive map is one of the largest and most detailed general maps of West Africa and the Maghreb to have been printed in the Ottoman Empire. It was issued as part of Ali Seref Pasa’s rare Yeni cografya atlasi, published by the Matbaa-i Amire, a press which was the successor of Ibrahim Müteferrika’s workshop, the first printing house in the Islamic world.

The map depicts all West African, with its numerous coastal European colonial possessions, while also sweeping up to embrace the Maghreb as far east as Libya. While the Sahara Desert, which occupies the heart of the map, is shown to be a political ‘no man’s land’, various important trading centres are marked, including Timbuktu.

Turkish viewers would have maintained a considerable interest in this map, as the Ottoman Empire had historically possessed a strong presence in the region. The Ottomans still controlled Libya and had, until relatively recently, possessed Algeria and Tunisia. From these regions, the Ottomans had been one the main patrons of the caravan trade that ran across the Sahara to West Africa. Thus, for centuries, commodities like ivory from Cameroon and gold from Ghana ended up in Istanbul.

This map was published in the very rare atlas Yeni cografya atlasi / New Geographical Atlas), issued in Istanbul in the 1890s. The maps are not numbered and the exact date of publication of the atlas is unclear. We can locate only two examples of the work in libraries worldwide, at the Universiteits bibliotheek Leiden and the University of Chicago Library. The atlas includes 41 maps variously dated between 1892 to 1896, and it is possible that the work was published in revised editions with different collations of maps. All maps from this atlas are today rare.

Ali Seref Pasa or Hafiz Ali Esref Not much is known about the author, who was known variously as Ali Seref Pasa or Hafiz

Ali Esref. He was a soldier, who was schooled in Paris as a cartographer around 1862.

While in Paris he published his first atlas with 22 maps, called the Yeni atlas. Upon his return to Istanbul he became the chief cartographer at the Matbaa-i Amire Printing Press in Beyazit, the successor of Müteferrika’s famous press. Amongst other projects, he translated Heinrich Kiepert’s gargantuan map of Anatolia into Ottoman text. Ali died in 1907, leaving his large project of a gigantic map of Anatolia in 100 sheets unfinished.
Ali’s name is often misunderstood or even listed as two different people: Ali Seref Pasa and Hafiz Ali Esref. Until the Turkish surname law was adopted on June 21, 1934, Turks did not generally have family. They were born with one first name and were often additionally named only as the sons or daughters of their parents. The higher classes were given titles such as Effendi (Sir), Bey (Chief) or Hanim (Madam), while others were often given names according to their work or class. The names were not inherited by children until 1934, when the surname law was enforced. The map maker Ali received the titles Seref, meaning ‘the honorable’, as well as the dignitary title Pasa. Yet he was also known as Hafiz, meaning ‘memorizer of the Qur’an’, as well as Esref, meaning ‘proud’.

The Daruttibaa - Matbaa-i Amire Printing Press
The first press in the Muslim world, called Darüttibaa, was founded in Istanbul by Ibrahim Müteferrika in 1727, with the permission of Sultan Ahmet III. It was located in Müteferrika’s house and issued its first book in 1729; sixteen other works followed until 1743.
After Müteferrika’s death in 1745 the press was suppressed under pressure from conservative elements that argued that printing came with dangerous political and social ramifications. In 1796, Müteferrika’s press was revived, purchased by the government and moved to Usküdar, on the Asian side of Istanbul. In 1831 it was moved again, to Beyazit, on the European side, where it was, in 1866, renamed the Matbaa-i Amire. The press was closed in 1901 and was reopened in 1908 under the name Milli. In 1927 the name changed again to the State Printing House. The press still exists and is today known for publishing educational books, giving it one of the most esteemed pedigrees of any printing establishment in the world.
Reference: OCLC: 67320386 (Leiden) and 902814729 (Chicago) for the atlas.

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Ali SEREF PASA -  [Title in Ottoman Turkish: WEST AFRICA AND THE MAGHREB].
Ali SEREF PASA - [Title in Ottoman Turkish: WEST AFRICA AND THE MAGHREB]. high resolution image of old map
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Ali SEREF PASA - [Title in Ottoman Turkish: WEST AFRICA AND THE MAGHREB].

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