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British Travellers, the Kurds, and Kurdistan: a brief literary history, c. 1520-1673

Gerald Martin Maclean

Abstract

This essay investigates accounts of the Kurds and Kurdistan by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British travellers to the Ottoman and Safavid empires by placing them alongside contemporary Kurdish and Iranian chronicles by Sharaf al-Din Khan Bedlisi (1597) and Eskandar Beg Monshi (1616-29). Although considerable attention has been paid in recent scholarship to early-modern British travellers’ accounts of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities of the Levant, Middle East, and Persia, the Kurds have been entirely ignored. Early British travellers most often encountered Kurds in and around Aleppo, where the Levant Company established its headquarters during the 1580s. Remarkably few, however, commented on the Kurdish presence. Further east, Anthony Shirley and his companions on their mission to visit Shah Abbas in 1598 recognised Kurdistan to be a province between Baghdad and Qazvin, and regarded the Kurds as uncivilised and rootless vagabonds; for Shirley himself they provided a means to magnify his own importance. While earlier Venetian merchants “described Kurdistan and Kurds with perspicacity and in detail” (Galletti, 1995: 99), the accounts by the first British travellers alternated between description and fabrication.

ABSTRACT IN KURMANJI

Gerokên Brîtanî, kurd û Kurdistan: dîrokeke nivîskî ya kurt, c. 1520-1680

Ev gotar li ser wan neql û berhemên derbarê kurdan û Kurdistanê de ye ku ji teref gerokên brîtanî (îngilîz) yên sedsalên 16 û 17an ên li nav împeratoriyên Osmanî û Safewî hatine nivîsandin; gotar, wan dide ber berhemên dîrokî yên kurd û îranî yên hevdemên wan, wek Şerefxanê Bidlîsî (1597/8) û Îskender Beh Monşî (1616-29). Digel ku di xebatên nûjen de baleke girîng hatiye dayîn bo zanyariyên gerokên Brîtanî yên serdema berî-modern li ser civakên Xirîstiyan, Yahûdî û Misilman ên Levant, Rojhilata Navîn û Îranê de, kurd bi temamî hatine piştguhkirin. Gerokên brîtanî yên ewil bi piranî li Heleb û derdora wê rastî kurdan hatine ji ber ku Şîrketa Levantê di salên 1580an de baregeha xwe li wir ava kiribû. Lê belê, gelek kêm ji wan behsa hebûna kurdan kiriye. Bêtir li aliyê rojhilat, Anthony Shirley û hevrêyên wî di serdana Şah Ebbas ya 1580an de, Kurdistan wek parêzgeheke di navbera Bexda û Qezwînê de destnîşan kiriye û kurd wek tolazên hov û bêesl dîtine, û ji bo Shirley bi xwe ew amrazek bûn ku girîngiya xwe qat-qat zêdetir bike. Tucarên Venedîkî yên ewil “Kurdistan û kurdan bi hişmendî û hûrbînî terîf kirine” (Galleti, 1995:99), lê belê, neql û terîfên gerokên brîtanî di navbera terîf û derewan de diguherin.

ABSTRACT IN SORANI

Gerîde Berîtanîyekan, Kurd û Kurdistan; puxteyek le mêjû 1520-1680

Em nusîne kêwmallî  mijarekanî Kurd û Kurdistan le ‌ sedekanî şazdehem û ḧevdehem dekat, le jêr roşnayî nêrrînî gerrîde Berîtanyayiyekan le herdû împiratorî 'Usmanî û Sefewîda be leberçawgirtinî herdû şakarî Şerefedîn Xanî Bedlîsî (1597/8) û Eskender Begî Munşî (1616-29) herçende zorbey kare zanistîyekan tîşkyan xistûwete ser karekanî gerrîde‌Bberîtanîyekan le berebeyanîy modêrneda; bellam ziyatir leser Cûwekan, Krîstiyanekan, Musellmanekan le Şam, Rojhellatî Nawerast û willatî Fars rawestawn û betewawî Kurdyan piştgwê xistûwe. Gerrîde berîtanîye berayiyekan zorcar çawyan be kurd le naw yan ledewrî Ḧeleb kewtuwe‌; katê ke mekoy serekîy‌ Kompanyay Şam damezra le sallî 1580kanda. Bellam zor be kemî leser bûnî kurd lewnaweda dwawin. Ziyatir bewer rojhellat, Anthony Shirley û hawrêkanî le rêgey seferyanda bo çawpêkewtin be Şa 'Ebas le sallî 1598, Kurdistanyan be wîlayetêk  nasanduwe lenêwan Beẍdad û Qezwînda û Kurdanyan wek xellkêkî namedenî û koçer nasanduwe. Mebestî Shirley ‌le derxistinî basî Kurdan ziyatir bo nîşandanî giringîy xoy buwe. Bellam bazirgane Vînîsyayiyekan wesfî Kurd û Kurdistanyan be deqîqtir û dûrudrêjtir kirduwe. (Galletti 1995: 99), baskirdinî Kurdan lelayen gerrîde berîtanyayiyekanewe ziyatir wesfkarîy wirûkeşane buwe.

ABSTRACT IN ZAZAKI

Raywanê brîtanyayijî, kurdî û Kurdîstan: tarîxo edebîyo kilm, dorê 1520-1680î

Na meqale raporê ke Împeratorîyanê Osmanî û Sefewîyan de hetê raywananê brîtanyayijan yê seserranê şîyês û hewtêsinan ra derheqê kurd û Kurdîstanî de virazîyayî, înan ser o cigêrayîş kena û ê raporî kronîkanê hemdeman yê kurdan û îranijan yê Şerefxanê Bedlisî (1597/8) û Îskender Beg Munşî (1616-29) de nana pêver o. Herçiqas ke cigêrayîşanê peyênan de xeylê eleqe musnîyaye raporanê raywananê modernanê verênan yê Brîtanya ke derheqê komelanê xirîstîyan, yahudî û muslumanan yê Levant, Rojhelatê Mîyanênî û Îranî de virazîyayî, kurdî pêro pîya ameyî peygoş kerdene. Raywananê brîtanyayijan ê verênan kurdî zafane Haleb û derûdorê ci de dîyî, cayo ke Şîrketê Levantî serranê 1580an de merkezê xo nabî ro. Çi esto ke înan ra zaf tay kesan estbîyayîşê kurdan ser o şîrove kerd. Hîna zaf hetê rojhelatî de, Anthony Shirley û hevalê ey serra 1598î de kewtbî mîsyon ke Şah Abbasî zîyaret bikerê. Înan Kurdîstan sey wîlayetê mabênê Bexdad û Qazvînî de nas kerd û çimê înan de kurdî gewendeyê bê ristim û bê medenîyet bîyî. Seba Shirleyî kurdî tena wasitayêk bîyê ke pê înan muhîmîya xo berz bikero. Herçiqas ke bazirgananê venedîkijan “Kurdîstan û kurdî bi aqilo tuj û teferuat tarîf kerd” (Galletti, 1995: 99), raporanê raywananê brîtanyayijanê verênan mabênê terîf û pêardişî de ca girewt.

Keywords

Ottoman Kurdistan; Safavid Kurdistan; historiography; Britain; travel writing

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