[FIRST GUIDE OF THE SILK ROAD IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD] Tercüme-i târih-i nevâdir-i Çin Mâçîn. [i.e. Translation of the rare history and descriptions of China]
ALI AKBAR KHITÂÎ, (Early 16th-century Persian traveler and writer), (?-1516)., [Tophâne-i Âmire Litografya Destigâhi], [Istanbul], [AH 1270] = 1854.
Contemporary wrappers, taken from a volume. Roy. 8vo. (24 x 17 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 70 p. The heading (serlevha), decorations are golden. Bordered text block. The last pages have a couple of holes, occasional fading on pages, some contemporary marginal notes by a pencil, and calligraphic examples on the last blank page. Overall a good copy.
Lithographed edition. The first and only printed edition of one of the earliest Islamic travel accounts of China and the first description of the Silk Road in the Islamic world, even before Ibn Battuta, which is considered one of the most complete travel notes describing the Ming Dynasty China in the 16th century. This work, originally written in Persian in 1516 and completed and issued soon after Khitâî came to (or returned to) Istanbul in 1520, was later translated into Turkish by Hezârfen Huseyin (?-1103/1691), and became influential in the Turkish and Persian speaking Muslim world. According to the colophon, the book was finished on the last day or days of Rabî I 922/3 May 1516, but in the preface, a panegyric on Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-66) can be found.
The book is divided into twenty chapters, in which roads, cities, military, stores, prostitutes, eunuchs, administration, jails, law, different religions, cities and castles, armies, magazines, the imperial throne, the imperial jail, celebrations, entertainments, brothels and prostitutes, wonderful arts and strange cures, legislation, schools, persons from the west, Qalmâqs, agriculture, personal observations, gold, silver and money, obedience to the law, and, finally, Chinese temples, agriculture, and other matters are discussed. Thus Ali Akbar's book gave a reader of the sixteenth century a fair impression of China, and it's a guide that could serve as a companion especially for merchants of the Islamic world-traveling along the Silk Road. The book was dedicated to Sultan Suleiman and it's thought that Ali Akbar might have wished to make an impression on the Ottoman court regarding the difficult conditions of the Shi'ite community in Istanbul, within a dominantly Sunnite community. The Chinese scholar Lin Yih-Min describes Ali Akbar as a "Turkish businessman" (1983, p. 58) who probably traveled only to Central Asia, where he gathered the information for his book and returned then to Turkey. However, the author's name indicates a Shi'ite background. The "Khataynameh" aroused considerable interest not only in the Ottoman Empire but also in Europe in the early nineteenth century.
The immediate impact of the Khataynameh is difficult to estimate, but astonishingly the Ottoman Empire, transcribed as Lumi (Rûm), figured rather prominently in Chinese sources after a first embassy arrived in Beijing in 1524; others followed until 1618 (Kauz, pp. 264, 266-67). The year 1524, only a few years after the work was finished, could indicate a direct influence on Ottoman diplomacy and commerce toward Central Asia and China by Ali Akbar and his book.
Özege 20686. (Sources: Encyclopædia Iranica.; WorldCat.; TDV Islam ansiklopedisi.; One of the Last Documents of the Silk Road: The Khataynameh of Ali Akbar by Ralph Kauz).