We often hear of Evliya Celebi, who is famous for his humorous personality, and he still continues to shape our lives and inspire us with the observations he made throughout his life as a traveler. Evliya Celebi, also known as Dervish Mehmed Zilli, broadens our vision even today as one of the most famous travelers of the 17th century. Traveling across Asia, Europe and Egypt for more than half a century, the famous traveler collected all his observations and experiences in his 10-volume work called Seyahatname.
The writing style of Evliya Celebi reflects his extremely humorous personality. Evliya Celebi, a very important traveler shedding light on history, traveled throughout his life and collected all of his notes in his work called Seyahatname, which is taken as a reference even by the most important historians. Speaking of travelers, you can also take a look at one of our previous articles The Most Famous Travelers Who Made Mark in History.
About Evliya Celebi and His Works
The famous traveler Evliya Celebi was born in 1611 in Istanbul. His family is said to leave Kutahya and settle in Unkapani, Istanbul. His father Mehmet Dervish Zilli was a jeweler. His father taught him illuminated manuscript, calligraphy, embroidery and music. After madrasah education in Istanbul, where he was born, Evliya Celebi became a hafiz at the age of 24. Evliya Celebi was employed at the palace with the order of Murat IV, the sultan of the period who heard about his beautiful voice.
In the preface of Seyahatname, the famous traveler mentions that one day he dreamed about Hz.Muhammed. Telling that instead of asking for "Şefaat ya Resulallah" (meaning pleading to God by Hz. Muhammed for forgiveness), he asked for "Seyahat ya Resullah" (meaning pleading to God by Hz. Muhammed for traveling) and that since then, he had the passion to travel, Evliya Celebi wrote down everything about every place he had been to and made these notes accessible even after centuries.
Traveling mostly between Kutayha and Istanbul, Evliya Celebi also wandered Bursa, Izmir, Trabzon, Erzurum, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Sofia, Austria, Georgia, Albania, Komotini, Thessaly and Heraklion inch-by-inch. Writing about the social life, culture, ways of speaking and communication and trading habits of every place he had been to, Evliya Celebi also stands out with his unique style.
The traveler, who wrote Seyahatname, a giant work consisting of 10 volumes, in nearly 50 years, also served as a messenger in his period. With the opportunity to travel to many cities while serving as a messenger, Celebi died in 1682 after he returned back from Egypt. Some sources report that he died in Istanbul.
The stories and tales told by his father when he was young inspired Evliya Celebi to travel and explore. The traveler, who wandered for fifty years and collected his observations, also wrote about the relations between the Ottoman Empire and neighboring countries based on his travels.
The turn of expression of Seyahatmane is unique as its content. The work is not written in a prose format, which was a literary form of Divan literature that was popular in the period of Evliya Celebi, but in a simple and language, which was very similar to everyday spoken language. His extremely fluent, gripping and sometimes humorous and sarcastic writing style made the traveller loved by many and unforgettable in this respect.
No specific tense is used in Seyahatname. The past and future tenses are used together. This makes the work fluent, harmonious and colorful. In addition to his observations, Evliya Celebi also included tales, lullabies, myths, folk songs, stories, entertainments and beliefs, dressing styles and dynamics of social behaviors in his work.
The book of the famous traveler tells about mosques, churches, synagogues, monasteries, inns, hamams (Turkish baths), masjids, fountains, mansions, palaces, castles, city walls and towers in detail. Considering how traveling expands the horizon and expands the vision, Seyahatname is an important work that stimulates the passion to inquire and learn.