Western Thracian bookbinder Muharrem Kalenci unearthes rare artefacts

Western Thrace
Sun, 10 Dec 2023 10:24 GMT
Bookbinder Muharrem Kalenci presented his last project, which took 3 years to restore at İSAR Mücellithan, to art lovers with the exhibition "Two Covers One Treasure".
Western Thracian bookbinder Muharrem Kalenci unearthes rare artefacts

The book restoration exhibition organised by the Istanbul Research and Education Centre (ISAR) brings to light the works in the library of Haji Faruk Efendi of Erzurum Tivnikli, which consists of more than three hundred volumes from different branches of science.

Muharrem Kalenci, who meticulously carried out the restoration process and reintroduced nearly a thousand works to the world of science, shared the details about İSAR Mücellithane and the exhibition with AA correspondent.

"Most of the works are in Ottoman Turkish and some of them are works printed in Latin letters in the Republican period"

Kalenci stated that the ISAR Mücellithane was established in 2017 with the aim of making the works in the ISAR Library, which were compiled in the Ottoman period but became unusable due to wear and tear, available for reuse and said, "Within the Mücellithane (Bookbinding workshop), binding and paper restoration of all kinds of documents, including documents and maps, and Ottoman or Western-style printed and manuscript works are carried out. We have completed the restoration of hundreds of works so far. Whenever we have the opportunity, we try to bring these works together with enthusiasts through various thematic exhibitions according to the period and nature of the works. 'Two Covers One Treasure' was opened as the second exhibition of ISAR Mücellithane."

Kalenci stated that they included 33 works from the collection of 300 works of Tivnikli Hacı Faruk Efendi in the exhibition, and added that most of the works are in Ottoman Turkish, while the other part consists of works printed in Latin letters in the Republican period.

Kalenci, emphasising that being a copyist is a job that requires patience, said: "You can only do this job if you love it. Sometimes it can take months to repair a book, you have to spend hours and sometimes days to repair a torn page. Now most of my life is spent in the workshop."

"Hacı Faruk Efendi was a scholar who stood out with his identity as a mudarris and opened his house to students"

Ömer Said Güler, a lecturer at Istanbul Medeniyet University, Department of Turkish Language and Literature, who worked on the catalogue of the exhibition, pointed out that İSAR Mücellithane has a mission to bring the valuable works in İSAR Library, which have been damaged, back to the readers and made the following assessment:

"In the first years of our library's existence, it continued to work on the renovation of individual works that were not included in a specific collection. However, a more organised project was initiated with the 'Tivnikli Hacı Faruk Efendi' collection donated to our library recently. Hacı Faruk Efendi is a scholar from the gentry of Erzurum. He came to the fore with his identity as a mudarris, opened his house and home to students, and was known as the father of the poor in Erzurum. In parallel with his identity as a mudarris, his library also has a rich nature. Among his books, there were works that were seriously damaged. Muharrem Kalenci carried out the repair of these books with a work of about 3 years."

Referring to the prominence of educational books in the collection, Güler said, "In the exhibition collection, Sudi-i Bosnevi's 'Hafız Divan' commentary, which dates back to about 200 years ago and was printed in Bulak Printing House, and Sahih-i Bukhari's 'Nusha-i Sultaniye' edition printed by Abdulhamid II. The 'Nusha-i Sultaniye' edition of Sahih-i Bukhari printed by Abdülhamid II, Imam Rabbani's Mektubat, Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddime, Erzurumlu İbrahim Hakkı's Marifetname, Persian and French grammar books, İlm-i İktisad Dersleri, Mebadi-i Felsefe and the first editions of many works together with these valuable works attract attention."

Mentioning that the collection also gives clues about the scholars and thinkers of the period, the academician said, "When we look at the works in this collection, we see that the library of a provincial Ottoman scholar had both classical works, works on Islamic sciences, and works of Western social sciences, but also the works of his contemporary Muslim thinkers. In addition to basic Islamic sciences such as fiqh, hadith, tafsir, kalam, rhetoric, we understand that he was a versatile person with works written on subjects such as philosophy, history, economics, literature, geography, language (Arabic, Persian, French)."

Curated by Abdusselam Ferşatoğlu, the exhibition can be visited at ISAR Library in Sultantepe Uzbekler Tekke until 13 December.

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