Historiography and language in 17th-century Ottoman Kurdistan: A study of two Turkish translations of the Sharafnāma
Keywords:Self-determination, Kurds, Turkish Constitutional Court, autonomy, democracy
In the closing decades of the 11th/17th century, two Turkish translations of the Sharafnāma were produced in the Kurdish princely courts of Bidlīs and Pālū. The translators were Muḥammad Bēg b. Aḥmad Bēg, a great-great-grandson of Sharaf Khān II, the author of the work, and Sham‘ī, a secretary at the court of Amīr Yanṣūr Bēg, prince of Pālū. While their works differed in style and purpose, both men offered a reflection on the demise of Persian and increasing prestige of Turkish in Ottoman Kurdistan. In the case of Sham‘ī, this was supplemented by a more general observation on the various languages of the region. Evidence also suggests that while Persian was replaced by Turkish in the princely courts of Ottoman Kurdistan, some Kurdish literati and scholars instead chose to write part of their works in Kurdish. This article is a comparative study of Muḥammad Bēg and Sham‘ī’s translations, followed by a brief analysis of the associated sociolinguistic developments.