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Tarihü’l-Hindi’l-Garbi el-Müsemma bi Hadis-i Nev
(History of the West Indies)

Accession Number: Lilly Library, DR 403 .M825

Date and Location: 1730, Istanbul (Ottoman Turkish)

Author: Unknown author, edited by Ibrahim Müteferrika

Binding: Marbled envelope binding, with leather spine and central leather stamps on both sides of the book, and on the envelope flap

Page or Folio numbers: 91 folios (+ 3 of front matter, totals 94)

Dimensions of page: 22 x 16 cm

Dimensions of textblock: 17 x 11 cm

This book is the printed version of a manuscript of unknown authorship dating from the late 16th century. Many of the 13 illustrations have been adapted from copies of this manuscript and resemble its paintings. Of all the Müteferrika publications held in the Lilly Library collection, this book bears the greatest resemblance to a manuscript. However, not all copies of Müteferrika’s Tarihü’l-Hindi’l-Garbi are as embellished as the Lilly Library’s copy.


Tarihü’l-Hindi’l-Garbi is the fourth book printed by the Müteferrika press. This book is a descriptive geography of the New World, edited and compiled by Ibrahim Müteferrika. This publication constitutes the first illustrated book produced by the press. The book’s woodblock illustrations depict curious oddities, novel plants, and fantastic creatures from the New World. All of the 13 illustrations are printed and hand painted. The book also contains two world maps and two diagrams.

This book’s envelope binding covered with marbled paper renders its exterior indistinguishable from a manuscript. Two illuminated headpieces (serlevhas) were also ordered to be added to the book by its owner. These types of modifications are probably attempts to make the book more aesthetically pleasing by making it appear more like a manuscript than a book. This book is also printed on a wide variety of colored papers instead of the standard beige.

The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., holds a copy of Müteferrika’s Tarihü’l-Hindi’l-Garbi (E147. T18). The copy in the Library of Congress, however, is not embellished and is rather plain.

For a complete facsimile of an existing illustrated manuscript of this book, see: Tarih-i Hind-i Garbi veya Hadis-i Nev (A History of the Discovery of America).