Turkic cultural heritage in Uppsala

7 december 2020

Panoramic picture of Istanbul.

The book includes a reproduction of a panoramic picture of Istanbul from the 1670s that is in a pocket of the book and can be folded out. This is part of the picture.

Uppsala University has a rich collection of manuscripts, printed material, art objects and maps related to the Ottoman Empire and other Turkic cultures. How did they come to Uppsala? This story is told in a new book “Turcologica Upsaliensia. An Illustrated Collection of Essays”, published by the international scientific publishing house Brill.

The Forum for Turkic Studies, which was
established in 2013, has produced the book.

The Forum for Turkic Studies, which was established in October 2013, has produced the book in collaboration with researchers with different disciplinary specialisations within the humanities and social sciences.

“Over the years, the Forum has worked to create an environment for research on Turkey and other Turkic speaking areas with particular focus on Central Asia in a broad multidisciplinary collaboration among researchers in the field,” says Éva Á. Csató.

She was appointed professor of Turkic languages at Uppsala University in 2004 and became Sweden’s first professor in the subject. Today, Turkic languages is an established field of research at Uppsala University with two professorships, thanks in large part to the Forum for Turkic Studies, according to Éva Á. Csató.

“The forum has played an important role. Just the establishment phase was important for gaining attention. It has been very fruitful for us, with exhibitions, lectures and other activities.”

Digitization of Turkic material

In 2014, the Ottoman Cultural Heritage at Uppsala University project began to highlight the University’s large collection of manuscripts, printed material, art objects and maps related to the Ottoman Empire and other Turkic cultures. In the first part of the project, Turkic material was digitalized (about 4000 images) at Carolina and published using the ALVIN platform. This part of the work was funded with support from the Turkish government.

Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655–1727). Oil
painting by Lukas von Breda, Uppsala University
Library.

“We coordinated the project and allowed a Turkish visiting research fellow to work with cataloguing for a period since the material required extensive expertise in older Turkic manuscripts,” says Birsel Karakoç, professor of Turkic languages.

Now a book is being published that tells the story behind the objects and how they came to Sweden, through exploration and scientists. Contacts between Sweden and the Ottoman Empire were common and close when Sweden was a world power. Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655–1727) was a researcher from Uppsala who donated valuable oriental manuscripts. The scientist Fredrick Hasselquist (1722–1752), a student of Carl Linnaeus, visited the Ottoman Empire, travelling to Turkey and sending home to Uppsala, among other things, turtles.

Wants to reach a larger audience

The book tells the story behind Turkic studies in Uppsala, describes Ottoman and Chagatai language manuscripts in the Carolina collections, the exciting journey of an important Middle Azarbaijani Bible translation from Isfahan to Uppsala, the importance of Oriental education in the upbringing of young Prince Charles, later Charles XI of Sweden, and much, much more.

“Our goal with the book is to present Turkic studies in Uppsala in an entertaining light. We want to reach a larger audience that is interested in the University’s history and scientific discoveries and research in the Turkic speaking world,” says Éva Á. Csató.

It includes many art objects and some of the finest maps and pictures from Carolina Rediviva. The book also includes a reproduction of a panoramic picture of Istanbul from the 1670s that is in a pocket of the book and can be folded out.

“Readers can also view pictures in detail online and the book will be published both as an e-book and in printed form,” says Birsel Karakoç.

New book on Turkic studies

  • ”Turcologica Upsaliensia. An Illustrated Collection of Essays” will be published on 16 December and is being released by the international scientific publisher Brill.
  • The editors are Éva Á. Csató, professor emerita of Turkic languages, Gunilla Gren-Eklund, professor emerita of Indian studies, Lars Johanson, associate professor of Turkic language at Uppsala University and professor of Turkology at Mainz University, and Birsel Karakoç, professor of Turkic languages. Each has also contributed articles to the book.
  • Other contributors include Per Cullhed, development strategist at Uppsala University Library, Hans Helander, professor emeritus in Latin, Ulla Birgegård, professor emerita in Slavic languages, Ingvar Svanberg, researcher in Russian and Eurasian Studies, Bernt Brendemoen, professor at Oslo University, Mohammad Fazlhashemi, professor of Islamic theology and philosophy, Jan von Bonsdorff, professor of art history, Göran Bäärnhielm, first librarian at the Swedish National Library, and the researchers Josef Eskhult, Sabira Ståhlberg, Kristof D’hulster and Ali Yıldız.