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Robert Dankoff and Robert Elsie

Evliya Çelebi in Albania and adjacent regions
(Kosovo, Montenegro, Ohrid)
The relevant sections of the Seyahatname
Edited with translation, commentary and introduction
by Robert Dankoff and Robert Elsie

Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels. Land and people of the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century
A corpus of partial editions, edited by Klaus Kreiser
Volume 5

ISBN 90-04-11624-9
Brill, Leiden, New York, Cologne 2000


    The Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi toured Kosovo in December of 1660, northern Albania and Montenegro in February of 1662, and southern Albania in November of 1670. In the present volume, we have extracted his descriptions of these regions from the very extensive accounts of his peregrinations in the Balkans, covering much of Books V through VIII of his Seyahatname or Book of Travels.
    The occasion of the first of these journeys was the transfer of Evliya's patron, Melek Ahmed Pasha, from the governorship of Bosnia (residence: Banja Luka) to that of Rumeli (residence: Sofia). In the Pasha's train, Evliya passed through Kosovo stopping at Mitrovica, Vushtrria (Vuçitërna), Kosovo Polje, Prishtina and Kaçanik. His account of this journey, between Novi Pazar and Skopje, is contained in the autograph ms. of Book V, fols. 167a-169a. This comprises Part I of the present volume. This section is edited here for the first time. Translations into Serbo-Croatian, based on the inadequate printed text (Istanbul, vol. 5, 1897, pp. 547-553), are found in Cohadzic 1905 (pp. 25-27) and in Sabanovic 1954 (repr. 1979, pp. 268-280, and 1996). There are also Albanian translations in Vuçitërni 1930 and in Kaleshi 1955 (pp. 424-432).
    A little over one year later, Melek Pasha had just returned to Belgrade from active engagement with the Ottoman troops in Transylvania when he was summoned to the capital. Short of funds, he sent Evliya to Albania to collect some debts. Evliya stopped in Tirana, Lezha (Alessio), Shkodër (Scutari), Podgorica and Ulcinj, and then proceeded to Sofia where he was reunited with Melek Pasha before returning to Istanbul. His account of this journey, between Mileshevo and Skopje, is contained in the autograph ms. of Book VI, fols. 33a-36b. This comprises Part II of the present volume. This section, which until now has only been available in an inadequate printed text (Istanbul, vol. 6, 1900, pp. 106-117), is also edited here for the first time. The early Albanian translation in Vuçitërni 1930 was based on the printed Turkish text (111.23), and also excludes for instance the sample of the Albanian language.
    Evliya participated in the Candia campaign and the final Ottoman conquest of Crete in 1669. The following year, after the capture of Mania in the Peleponnese, the Ottoman commander Ali Pasha sent Evliya on a mission to Albania requesting troops and workmen to help rebuild the fortress of Zarnata, and thus to safeguard Mania against reconquest by the Venetians. Evliya passed through Delvina, Gjirokastër, Tepelena, Përmet, Berat, Vlora, Durrës, Kavaja, Elbasan, Ohrid and Pogradec before continuing on through Macedonia and Bulgaria to the Ottoman court in Edirne. His account of this journey from Corfu to Macedonia, is contained in the autograph ms. of Book VIII, fols. 352a-372b. This comprises Part III of the present volume. This section has been available in a fairly good edition (Istanbul, vol. 8, 1928, pp. 668-746), and is here re-edited on the basis of the autograph ms. There is a rudimentary Albanian translation of this section in Vuçitërni 1930 and a detailed analysis of this journey in Babinger 1930.
    The Seyahatname contains a wealth of material on cultural history, folklore and geography from the countries Evliya Çelebi visited. For seventeenth-century Albania, and in particular for the interior of the country, it constitutes a mine of information and is a work of inestimable value. Other sources of Albanian history for this period are rare. The little which has survived from the nebulous annals of early Albanian history has been compiled in Zamputi 1989, 1990. Among such documents are legal and merchant correspondence with Venice and Ragusa (Dubrovnik), ecclesiastical reports to the Propaganda Fide in Rome, and Turkish registers. All these works pale in significance, however, when compared to the relevant sections of the Seyahatname of Evliya Çelebi edited here.
    Evliya's work offers us detailed itineraries through a virtual terra incognita, including, among many other things, surprisingly accurate descriptions of market towns, fortresses, mosques, pilgrimage sites and pleasure-grounds. His writings are of particular interest for our knowledge of the presence and early spread of Islam and the dervish sects in Albania, evincing as he does here all the elements of a refined Islamic culture, of which tragically few traces have survived the course of history.

    Robert Dankoff and Robert Elsie


  • Map
  • Introduction
  • Text and Translation
    Part 1: Kosovo, 1660
    Part 2: Northern Albania and Montenegro, 1662
    Part 3: Southern Albania, 1670
  • Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Facsimile of the Manuscript
  • Plates

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