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Vankulu Lügati (Vankulu's Dictionary)

Accession Number: Lilly Library, DR 403 .M82215 vol. 1

Date and Location: 1729, Istanbul (Ottoman Turkish)

Author: Written by Jawhari (d. 1009-10), rendered as an Arabic-Turkish dictionary by Vankulu (d. 1592)

Binding: Original, tri-stamped binding

Page or Folio numbers: 666 pages +19 folios of front matter

Dimensions of page: 32.5 x 22 cm

Dimensions of textblock: 26 x 15 cm

This Arabic-Turkish dictionary is the first printed book from the Müteferrika press. This book includes as front matter many of the legal documents the publisher acquired in order to receive permission to produce his printed books. These legal documents have been reproduced as front matter in each copy of this particular book.


This is the first volume of the first book printed at the Müteferrika press. A legible naskh (Turkish: nesih) script is used throughout. There are catchwords at the bottom of each folio despite the simultaneous use of page numbers. The paper is chain-laid, watermarked, and imported from Europe. The text provides Arabic terms with their Turkish translations.

This dictionary is often referred to as Jawhari's Dictionary as well as Vankulu's Dictionary. It was originally written as an Arabic-to-Arabic dictionary in the 10th century; it was then translated by Vankulu into Turkish in the 16th century, transforming it into an Arabic-to-Turkish dictionary.

Vankulu Lügati has the most extensive front matter of all the seventeen books in the Müteferrika series. It opens with a foreword by Müteferrika and contains a copy of the original imperial edict (ferman) issued by Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-1730), followed by religious decrees (fetvas) issued by leading religious figures in the administration giving religious clearance to Müteferrika to establish a press. The religious decrees are followed by a copy of the pamphlet entitled "The Usefulness of Printing" (Vesiletü’t-tibaʿa), which Müteferrika wrote and presented to Grand Vizier Damad Ibrahim Paşa. In this pamphlet, Müteferrika lists ten reasons why an imperial printing house should be established.

This work also includes a list of missing phrases and errata, because it was the most closely monitored by the scholars who were assigned by the Sultan to ensure proper transcription. All but a few of the publications to follow include a list of errata. There are also short biographies of both Vankulu and Jawhari that comprise the front matter in addition to a table of contents.