"AN OTTOMAN EROTIC MANUSCRIPT FROM THE 1790s"
İrvin Cemil Schick, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Part of the Silsila Fall 2022 series, Body and Senses
Received opinion holds that Ottoman miniature painting was moribund by the early eighteenth century, Levnī (d. 1732) being its last great exponent. This is a misconception due in large part to the unwillingness of many art historians to give erotica the attention it deserves. An Ottoman manuscript recently acquired by the David Collection (Copenhagen) and produced in Shumen (in present-day Bulgaria) around the turn of the nineteenth century contains some eighty-five high-quality illustrations, many of which are of an erotic nature. The text brings together a number of well-known erotic works of both poetry and prose, and the degree of accomplishment exhibited by the miniatures suggests that the manuscript may not have been an isolated case.
İrvin Cemil Schick received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has taught at Harvard University, MIT, and İstanbul Şehir University, as well as holding guest positions at Boston University, Sabancı University, and Boğaziçi University. He is the author, inter alia, of The Erotic Margin: Sexuality and Spatiality in Alteritist Discourse (1999) and Writing the Body, Society, and the Universe: On Islam, Gender, and Culture (in Turkish, 2011). His research interests include the Islamic arts of the book; gender, sexuality, spatiality, and the body in Islam; and animals and the environment in Islam. He is currently completing a second doctorate at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris; his dissertation concerns occult practices in Islam with special emphasis on their legitimation.