1906 Dagistani Ottoman Map of the Balkans

مفصل اوروبا عثمانیه / [Detailed (Map) of Ottoman Europe]. - Main View

1906 Dagistani Ottoman Map of the Balkans


Southeastern Europe, Slipping Away.


مفصل اوروبا عثمانیه / [Detailed (Map) of Ottoman Europe].
  1906 (dated)     25 x 34.75 in (63.5 x 88.265 cm)     1 : 1000000


A scarce map of Ottoman Europe, produced by military officer al-Hac Nasir al-Dagistani and published in 1906 by Mahmud Bey Matbaasi. It displays the remaining European portion of the Ottoman Empire, which was severely imperiled at the time, and most of which would break away in two wars in the Balkans that directly preceded World War I (1914 - 1818).
A Closer Look
Covering the Balkans from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, this map highlights the remnant European portions of Ottoman Europe in the early 20th century, before the two Balkan Wars. Administrative borders are illustrated and labeled, as are mountains, waterways, major roads, railways, cities, and other features. An inset at the bottom-left displays the Bosporus, while a legend at the right explains the symbols used throughout. Multiple tables provide information on telegraph and postal codes, distances between major cities, and demographics of the empire's vilayets.

An inset of Crete appears at bottom. Despite a movement to do so, the island did not join Greece upon the latter's independence in the early 19th-century. However, repeated revolts against Ottoman rule and foreign intervention forced the Sultan to accept Crete's near de facto independence. Nevertheless, momentum for union with Greece continued, driven by communal violence between Muslims and Christians and the weakening of Ottoman rule overall. In 1906, the year of this map's publication, the island's High Commissioner was deposed. In 1908 Crete joined Greece.
Historical Context – The Collapse of Ottoman Europe
Ottoman control over the Balkans, Greece, and other nearby territories was already in jeopardy in the early 19th-century, and by the end of the 19th-century, many of these territories had achieved independence. Those regions that had not (Albania, Macedonia, portions of modern Greece, and Bulgaria) were underonly nomina l control from Istanbul. Despite the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 and the onset of drastic reforms, the difficulties faced by the Ottomans only increased in subsequent years, and the empire lost nearly all of its European territory by the end of 1913. The destabilization of the region provided opportunities for rival foreign powers to interfere and compete with each other, setting the stage for the First World War.
Late Ottoman Cartography
As with other elements of Ottoman administrative and intellectual life, in 19th century, the threat of powerful neighbors prompted a comprehensive reexamination of cartographic methods. Along with the Tanzimat reforms in the mid-19th century, came an effort to train cartographers in the latest European surveying methods. Print technology also improved with the development of commercial lithographic printing by the end of the century (the present map is, notably, a chromolithograph). Still, several factors, including limited funding for military and non-military cartographers, somewhat hindered the development of late Ottoman cartography.
Chromolithography, sometimes called oleography, is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process uses multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Generally, a chromolithograph begins with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors are layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired effect. Chromolithograph color can be blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it emerged as the dominant method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Dagistani al-Hac Nasrullah al-Hac Nasir Efendi (alternatively and more simply known as al-Hac Nasir al-Dagistani), a military officer and cartographer who may have been the same person as Mehmet Nasrullah, a rather prominent late Ottoman cartographer. The map is dated AH 1324 (1906, or possibly early 1907) and was published by Mahmud Bey Matbaasi in Istanbul. We are only aware of one other example of this map, which is in private hands, though the cataloging of Ottoman maps is sporadic.


Mehmet Nasrullah (محمد نصرالله; fl. c. 1890 - 1910) was one of the most prominent geographers of the late Ottoman period. He is best known for his Atlaslı coğrafiya-yi Osmani and other atlases, but he also produced a series of wall maps with Tefeyyüz Kitaphanesi. In some biographies, he is noted as being a haji. He may be the same person as one al-Hac Nasir al-Dagistani, in which case he likely would have been a native of Dagestan in the Caucasus. More by this mapmaker...

Mahmud Bey Matbaasi (محمود بك مطبعه سى ; fl. c. 1868 - 1928) was a prolific publisher of the late Ottoman period based in Dersaadet (Istanbul). Occasionally publishing maps, the firm also produced almanacs and geographical texts, among other works in the fields of literature, translation, and political and global affairs. Learn More...


Average. Wear along original folds. Some loss at junction of folds. Light soiling. Several tears around edges professionally repaired.