[FIRST MAP OF JAPAN / FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF ONE OF THE EARLIEST MUSLIM MAPPAMONDOS / FIRST DICTIONARIES OF THE TURKIC LANGUAGES] Divân-i lûgâti’t-Türk [i.e., The compendium of the languages of the Turks]. Edited by Ali Emirî

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AL-KASHGÂRÎ, MAHMUD IBN HUSAYN IBN MUHAMMAD (known as Al-Kashgârî) (1008-1102), Matbaa-yi Âmîre, Istanbul, AH 1333-1335 [1917-1919].

In publisher’s original dark green cloth including three volumes in one as issued. Light brown cloth spine on which has no lettering. Housed in a separate modern dark brown full leather box. Large roy. 8vo. (25 x 18 cm). In Arabic and Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 3 volumes set: (436, 12 p., 319, [1] p., 351 p.), one folded chromolithograph map in the first volume (40 x 28 cm). This sixfold map is folded originally between 28-29 pages of the book. Skillful restoration on the lower right of the front board, contemporary blue free endpapers, and occasional foxing on covers. Otherwise, a very good copy. 

Extremely rare first printed edition of this first comprehensive Arabic dictionary of Turkic languages edited and published lately by ex-treasurer of Aleppo Ali Emiri (1857-1924), compiled originally in 1072-74 in Baghdad by Mahmud Kashgari, an early scholar in the Islamic world extensively studied the Turkic languages. This extremely rare book was presented to the Abbasid Caliphate, the new Arab allies of the Turks and it was edited and published based on the original manuscript found by Ali Emiri for the first time from the Sahhaflar Çarsisi [i.e., The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Bazaar of Istanbul], includes also a remarkable and first printed edition of the map produced for this book as folded, based on the original manuscript written in 11th century Baghdad. A multiple first: It’s the first and the most compact dictionary of Turkish languages and dialects; it includes the oldest account of the places where Turkish/Turkic and Central Asian tribes and communities live, their beliefs and customs; the book has one of the earliest world maps of the Eastern world, particularly also showing China, Russia with Asian geography, and the oldest known map of Japan (Tekeli).

The book is an invaluable source about the Central Asian communities of the period and “entries in Turkic, Karakhanid (Khakani), Uighur, Oghuz, etc. in Arabic script, definitions in Arabic.” (OCLC).

Dîwân Lugât al-Turk was intended for use by the Caliphs of Baghdad written in Arabic, which is Lingua Franca of the Middle East, who were controlled by the Seljuk Turks. It has a map that shows a vast geography including countries and regions from Japan to Egypt. This is the first known map of the areas inhabited by Turkic peoples. The compendium documented evidence of Turkic migration into and the expansion of the Turkic tribes and languages of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and West Asia, mainly between the 6th and 11th centuries. The region of origin of the Turkic people is suggested to be somewhere in Siberia and Mongolia. By the 10th century, most of Central Asia was settled by Turkic tribes such as Tatar, Kipchaks, Turcoman, etc. The Seljuq dynasty settled in Anatolia starting in the 11th century, ultimately resulting in permanent Turkic settlement and presence there. Meanwhile, other Turkic tribes ultimately formed independent nations, such as Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, and others new enclaves within other nations, such as Chuvashs, Bashkorts, Tatars, the Crimean Tatars, the Uyghurs in China, and the Sakhas in Siberia.

Dîwân Lugât al-Turk is written for precisely a common reason. It is the common accumulation and common treasure of the Turkish civilization; it intends to present a common language of culture and communication concerning the differentiations of accent and dialect that arise from distance over space (geography) and time. Likewise, Dîwân Lugât al-Turk opens the conception of Turkish into Arabic, in terms of its worldview, apprehension of life, and cultural riches; it furthermore opens Arabic, the language of education, science, philosophy, and literature, into Turkish. It does so through reproducing Turkish in Arabic; it, so to speak, attunes the two languages to one another via their mutual encounter [.] Nevertheless, Dîwân Lugât al-Turk is not a work that thoroughly reflects the Turkish of the period. Since its primary aim was to teach Turkish to Arabs, any vocabulary that had been transferred from Arabic to Turkish was not reflected in the dictionary, and so "approximately 8,000 Turkish words found their place" in the work. (Tasdelen).

When the book was written, Seljukids became the most powerful in the Muslim East, and Kashgari, a true patriot of the Turkic world and connoisseur of Turkic history and literature would overlook such majestic historical events. Here the fact, probably, affected that the book was prepared as a gift to Khalif, the author, meaning rivalry between the Caliphate and Seljukid State for leadership in the Islamic world, accordingly, cold attitude Khalif with Seljukids sultans, deliberately didn’t speak and didn’t lead to information in “Diwan” about Seljukids.

Speaking about the geopolitical situation of Turkic people in the XI century, Kashgari said, that: “Allah created them in the zenith of the Sun (that is has arranged them above others - from authors). They nominated authorities of the time”. According to these descriptions, Turkic people in the XI century occupied a leading position in the Muslim world. The strongest states of the Islamic world were Turkic people - state Karakhanids and Seljukids.

Mahmud al-Kashgari's comprehensive dictionary, later edited by the Turkish historian, Ali Emiri, contains specimens of old Turkic poetry in the typical form of quatrains of Persian literature representing all the principal genres: epic, pastoral, didactic, lyric, and elegiac. The original manuscript has been previously housed at the Millet Library in Istanbul, but as of February 2020 is on display at the Presidential Library in Ankara.


The map is a 'Turkocentric' world map, oriented with the east (or rather, perhaps, the direction of midsummer sunrise) on top, centred on the ancient city of Balasaghun is now Kyrgyzstan, showing the Caspian Sea to the north, and Iraq, Armenia, Yemen, and Egypt to the west, China and Japan to the east, Hindustan [i.e., India], Kashmir, Gog and Magog to the south. Conventional symbols are used throughout - blue lines for rivers, red lines for mountain ranges, etc. The world is shown as encircled by the ocean. (Wikipedia).

This is the oldest known map showing Japan as it’s named “Jabarkha” in the map, also it is interesting to note that the name of China surrounded by the Great Wall is shown as “Yecüc Mecüc Diyari” [i.e., The Gog and Magog Land]. Gog and Magog are a pair of names that appear in the Bible and the Quran, variously ascribed to individuals, tribes, or lands. In Ezekiel 38, Gog is an individual and Magog is his land. By the time of the New Testament's Revelation 20:8, Jewish tradition had long since changed Ezekiel's "Gog from Magog" into "Gog and Magog". Islamic tradition took this word and transformed its name to "Yajuj Majuj".

This world map, oriented with the East at the top, is the first printed edition published only for this first edition of Diwan’s Ali Emiri edition which would not be published again until 1946, when it was reprinted in a biography of Kashgari, based on the unique manuscript of al-Kashgari entitled Diwan Lugat at-Turk [The Compendium of the Turkic Dialects]. The map is certainly unlike any other map in Islamic literature. The individual elements of the map, symbols, and so forth, are all very much the same as those that appear on any other Islamic map, but its concept is most unusual. Although it is a mappa mundo, it is centred on the Turkish-speaking areas of Central Asia, with other countries receding from them toward the circumference of the world circle. In addition, the scale seems to be reduced as one gets nearer the edge of the map so that one has the impression of a fish-eye representation of the globe with Turkestan magnified in the centre. The colours are described in the original as grey for rivers, green for seas, yellow for deserts and cities, blue for rivers, and red for mountains.

Among countless important characteristics of Diwan Lugat at-Turk is this map located at one of the beginning pages (between the 28th and 29th pages). To our knowledge, it is also the first world map of Turkish origin known in history. Al-Kashgari’s map, drawn to the distribution of the areas inhabited by Turkic peoples in his time, also covers some other lands, making it almost a world map. The map, which may be regarded rather as primitive in terms of the techniques used in modern cartography, was above the 11th-century standards when the available geographical information and techniques of the time were considered.

There is enough evidence to support the originality of Kashgari’s map. First, the map was drawn centring the city of Balasaghun, where the Turkic Khans resided. While all the other Turkic cities were placed accordingly, the four directions were indicated following the traditional Turkic system used in the Orkhun inscriptions. The mountains, lakes, rivers, and seas in the areas settled by the Turks are shown in exact detail. The fact that there is almost no mistake in this respect indicates that the map is the original work made and drawn by someone who knows geography very well.

About the map depicting the 11th-century Turkic world, Kashgari says, "The main part of the lands of the Turks, from the area next to Rum up to Mashin, is five thousand farsakhs [i.e., parasang] long by three thousand wides, making a total of eight thousand farsakhs. I have indicated all this in the circle in the shape of the earth so that it may be known". Kashgari’s drawing of the map in the form of a circle and referring to the shape of the earth indicates the Turks knew quite well that the earth is round. Around the coloured map on the twenty-second and twenty-third pages of the Diwan, the four cardinal directions, namely, East, West, South, and North are indicated. As mentioned above, the geographical features are color-coded; thus, seas are green, rivers are blue, mountains are red, and cities are yellow. On the map, the lands to the north extend as far as the Ytil borders, where the Kypchaks and the Franks lived. To the south, there are countries of the Hind, the Sind, the Berber, the Abyssinians, and the Zanj. To the east there are the lands of Mashin [China] and Japarqa [Japan], to the west, there appear the borders of Egypt and the lands of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula (Andalusia).

The map shows in detail the cities and the lands where the Central Asian peoples lived. Close to Balasaghun, centred on the Turkish-speaking areas, are Barsghan, the city of Mahmud Kashgari’s father, and Kashgar, the city of culture and learning. The lake appears close to Barsghan with no name is the Lake of Issyk. Other Turkic cities shown at the centre are Kucha, Barman, Uch, Qoachrnarbashi, Yarkand, Khotan, Jurcan, Ozjand, Marginan, Khojand, Samarqand, Ekkiogüz, Talas, Beshbaliq, and Mangishlag.

Other Turkic areas indicated on the map are the Oghuz land, Kypchak and Oghuz provinces, Bashgirt steppes, Otuken, Khorasan, Kharezm, and Adarbadgan. Besides the seas, lakes, and mountains shown in coded colours, the rivers Sayhun, Jayhun, Ila (Ili), Atil, Artish, and the mountains Qarachuk and Sarandib are indicated with their geographical names.

Besides indicating the areas, the Turkic people live in, Kashgari also indicates on his map the names of the non-Turkic people who are living in the same areas and getting into interaction with the Turks. However, those people and countries who have no interaction with the Turks are disregarded. Mahmud Kashgari shows a variety of places on his map, including the Great Wall of China, deserts, and sands where the water seeps away, the City of Women, areas of wild animals, and areas uninhabitable because of excessive cold or heat. As he writes about the eastern people of China, Mashin, and Jabarqa [Japan], he mentions that their distance, the interposition of the mountains, seas, and the Great Wall altogether make the languages of these people unknown. Kashgari's mentioning of Japan in his work and showing it on his map upgrades the value of the map even more. To our present knowledge, the map in Diwan Lugat al-Turk is the first world map on which Japan is placed. Kashgari shows Japan as an island in the east and calls it Jabarqa. The first individual map of Japan was drawn three hundred years after Kashgari by a Japanese cartographer, but the second map placing Japan on a world map after Kashgari was drawn four hundred years after Diwan Lugat at-Turk. Because of this, Kashgari is distinguished as the first man who placed Japan on a world map.

Other types of maps from this period show how the people of the Near East gained greater knowledge about China through the overland connections and the Arab sea trade with the Far East. Kashgari’s 11th-century encyclopedic dictionary of the Turkish language, for example, places Turkic Central Asia at the centre of the map. The geographic knowledge of the world portrayed in the map circulated to the broad readership that had access to his dictionary. This round Turkish map differs significantly from the contemporaneous Balkhi School maps because it does not show the coastline for any part of Afro-Eurasia or draw clear spatial relationships between regions. Yet, as Andreas Kaplony argues, Kashgari’s small illustrative map records geographic data using unique visual language signs distinguished by colour and shape. For example, the map usually marks the Turkish tribes with a yellow dot. Interestingly, the use of color-coding on the map in a language dictionary calls to mind the color-coding common to the language maps often found on the cover or back page of modern-day dictionaries. Although Kashgari, an educated Turkish nobleman, was Muslim and relied on the methods of his Arabic-Islamic geographer forebears, he omitted Mecca and Medina. Its form may seem simplistic, yet Kashgari’s map adds new geographic knowledge that Turkish authors gained through overland contact between his country and northern China. He resembles al-Biruni in that he reveals new knowledge about the political division that separated China into northern and southern halves during this period. Yet Kashgari used different terms, Chin [China] and Mashin [greater China], that would often appear in later Persian works. Perhaps Kashgari learned about a political division of China when he undertook his alleged journey to the northeastern part of Eurasia, which may have included northern China; or perhaps this information was common among those who traveled along the overland routes of Central Asia.

Although this map is oriented eastward toward China, centres on Central Asia, and focuses on the location of Turkic tribes, according to Karen Pinto, in its illustration style, it betrays Islamic cartographic influences. Red lines demarcating boundaries, dark green copper for the seas, and slate grey for the rivers, encased in an encircling band symbolizing the Bahr al-Muhit [Encircling Ocean], with a keyhole form for the Caspian Sea are all common iconographic tropes also used on the KMMS world maps. The grid of lands in the Islamic world laid out at the bottom of the map is evocative of Biruni-type maps that lay out the lands in a grid-like structure in the lower half of the map. It is, as the reigning expert on the Kashgari map, Andreas Kaplony, suggests, akin to a modern "dialect atlas" speaking the "same visual language" as Arab-Islamic cartographers, and it is for this reason that we need to consider this map when reviewing the Islamic cartographic tradition. Again, according to Ms Pinto, given the Kashgari map’s close visual connection to Islamic models and the fact that the earliest extant Islamic manuscript maps herald from the 11th century, after the Turkic entry into the Islamic theatre, it leaves us wondering if it was the Turks who brought a world-envisioning mapping tradition to the Islamic world from their Icarian vantage point atop the highest peaks in the world.

Description by Andreas Kaplony: The map indicates the four cardinal points, with north on the left side, countries like the Land of the Russians (Rus) in the north, Japan (Djabarqa) in the east, Sri Lanka in the south, and the "Land of the North Africans, i.e., Spain" (Ard al-Maghariba wa-hiya Andulus) in the west, as well as mountains, deserts, rivers, and seas. In the margins, legends explain the colour code: Green-which now has become black-denotes seas, like the Ocean around the world, the Sea of Japan in the east, the Bay of Bengal in the south, and the Aral Sea in the north. Red stands for mountains, such as the mountain network at the centre and the mountains around the "Land of Gog and Magog." Grey-now also almost black-refers to rivers: the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers at the centre, the Indus (erroneously called Sayhun, “Amu Darya”) in the south, and the Volga in the north. Sand deserts such as the Qara Qum are in yellow.

The map presents two remarkable features. First, the focus is on the yellow dots, each one explained by a title, yet these dots are not referred to by the legends in the map margins. The green seas, red mountains, grey rivers, and yellow deserts seem to constitute the background on which these dots have assumed their relative locations. A second remarkable feature is found in the lower part of the map. There, a table displays in a roughly geographical disposition the major countries of the Islamic world, from eastern Iran to Spain. In this table, red lines are not mountain ranges but delineate geographical entities. Yellow dots are few there. The visual language of this table differs from the one in the main part of the map. We might assume that the copyist, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, added the table to adjust the map to the political conditions of his time.

Arabic-Islamic geographers used diagrammatic maps that closely interacted with texts as one of three devices they had at their disposal, the other two being precision maps and texts. Reading al-Kashgari’s map as one of those diagrammatic maps shows that he speaks the same visual language they did: As Arabic-Islamic geographers focused on cities of the Islamic world, al-Kashgari, within his textbook on the Turkish language focused on the tribes of the Turkish world. The main aim of his map was to show the distribution of concurring linguistic features kind of dialect atlas to enable his readers to learn any Turkish language they wished. (Source: My Old Maps online).


This first edition was published based on the manuscript purchased by Ali Emiri from the bookseller Burhan Efendi and copied by Savali Muhammad in 1266. The Dîwân was kept in the library of Ahmet Nazif Pasha, a member of a well-established family of Vanioghuls, until 1905, and then it was brought to the bookstore Burhan Efendi by a lady from the family and sold to Ali Emiri Efendi through her. (Kilisli Rifat).


Mahmud ibn Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Kashgari was an 11th-century Karakhanid scholar and lexicographer of the Turkic languages from Kashgar. His father, Husayn, was the mayor of Barsgan, a town in the southeastern part of the lake of Issyk-Kul (nowadays the village of Barskoon in Northern Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul Region) and related to the ruling dynasty of Karakhanid Khanate. Around 1057 C.E. Mahmud al-Kashgari became a political refugee, before settling down in Baghdad.

As of December 2023, seventeen North American libraries hold this book: Harvard Library, Princeton University Library, LoC, University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan, CTSFW Library, University Libraries at Virginia Tech, University of Chicago Library, Carl B. Ylvisaker Library, Indiana University, University of Washington Libraries, University of Utah, Dallas Theological Seminary, Alamo Colleges Northeast Lakeview College Library, UC Berkeley Libraries, University of California Los Angeles, Hawaii Pacific University.