The Word Zant from the Poet’s Perspective: In Pursuit of an Obsolete WordSüreyya Pekşen
This article focuses on the word zant, which rarely appears in Ottoman poetry and served as the redif [synonymous repetition for rhyming in poetry] of a descriptive gazel [ode] in the Divan [collected poems] of Aşkî of Üsküdar. As part of the first step, the study attempts to interpret the signification of the word zant by drawing upon the context of its appearance in the gazel and consequently identifies two possibilities by considering its compatibility with the available historical visual material. Afterward, the study used newly-accessed sources to confirm the likelihood of one of the two scenarios. Starting with a brief introduction on daily life and the use of material cultural elements in the Ottoman poetic tradition, the article presents a description of how the poet Aşkî of Üsküdar represented objects in his poems, which is followed by a discussion of what the depicted object could signify with reference to the gazel under study. Along with factual information that brings a clear answer to the research question, the final section provides examples of the description of zant as reflected in the accounts of 15th-century Western travelers, as well as in Ottoman miniatures, illustrations of furusiyya [equestrian martial exercises] texts, and paintings by Venetian Renaissance artists such as Bellini, Carpaccio, and Mansueti.
Şairin Kadrajından Zant: Yitik Bir Kelimenin PeşindeSüreyya Pekşen
Bu makalede 16. yüzyıl şairlerinden Üsküdarlı Aşkî’nin Divan’ındaki 203 numaralı gazelin redifi olan ve Osmanlı şiirinde kullanım sıklığının son derece düşük olduğu tespit edilen zant kelimesine odaklanılmaktadır. İlk aşamada, kelimenin gazelde yer aldığı bağlamlardan hareketle neyin göstereni olabileceği yorumlanmaya çalışılmış ve gösterilen için tespit edilebilen görsel malzeme ile uyumu değerlendirilerek iki ihtimal belirlenmiştir. Sonraki aşamada ise erişilen yeni kaynaklar ışığında bu iki ihtimalden birinin doğruluğu teyit edilmiştir. Osmanlı şiir geleneğinde gündelik hayat ve maddi kültür ögelerinin kullanımı üzerine kısa bir girişle başlayan makalede şairin manzumelerinde nesnelere yer verme biçimlerine bakıldıktan sonra çalışmaya esas olan gazel üzerinden tasvir edilen nesnenin ne olabileceği tartışılmaktadır. Ardından, klasik şiirde yer bulan edebî tasvirlerin ne derecede gerçekçi olduklarını saptayabilmek için sanat tarihi disiplininin alanına giren minyatürlere, resimlere, gravürlere ve kıyafet albümlerine müracaat edilebileceği görüşünden hareketle, elde edilen veriyle uyum sağlama ihtimalinin yüksek olduğu düşünülen görsel malzeme sunulmaktadır. Son bölümde ise araştırmayı net bir sonuca kavuşturan veriler ile birlikte 15. yüzyılda yaşamış Dietrich von Schachten ve Arnold von Harff gibi Batılı seyyahların notlarında, Osmanlı dönemine ait minyatürlerde, fürûsiyye çizimlerinde ve bilhassa Gentile Bellini, Carpaccio, Mansoeti gibi Venedikli Rönesans sanatkârlarının resimlerinde yer alan zant tasvirlerinden örnekler paylaşılmaktadır.
Within the entire life trajectory of classical Turkish poetry, the 15th century marking the period when the genre started to find its own voice is evidence of it having attained maturity. Ottoman poets could now ingeniously apply what they had learned from the Persian masters who had been their source of inspiration for centuries, and clearly the period of meşk [practice] was coming to an end. Meanwhile, the 16th century, or classical period as described by a great majority of researchers of the history of literature, was characterized by a conscious voluntary disengagement from Persian poetry which was the main source of tradition. From this century onward, poets started to turn their gaze to the realities of their society and to actual life with all its dynamics, both due to their aim of becoming more local and national as well as to their eagerness to rejuvenate the meanings that had become outdated through overuse and excessive elaboration. Thus, anything that added vitality to society could become a theme, backdrop, or object of poetry and find its way to the present through the “verbal photographs” the poets created. An attempt at categorizing all these verbal photographs would probably reveal a considerable amount of repetition. Continuing with the same example, an arduous and timeconsuming selection process would be required to open an exhibition or create a collection of these photographs.
Some of the life scenes and objects depicted in the couplets that have survived to the present create a familiarity that pleases the reader. For instance, ants swarming on sugar, girls carrying trays over their heads on henna night, a beauty bathing in a Turkish bath, or a wineglass with basil leaves all mean something to readers in the 21st century. Moreover, seeing them in centuries-old texts gives the excitement of discovering correspondence across eras. In other couplets, scenes or objects appear archaic to the modern reader and can only be understood through the use of dictionaries and historical references. In certain cases, however, the text may tell something by depicting a scene or object, the traces of which can barely be found either in contemporary texts or in subsequent written sources. This article explores the meaning of zant, which is both the focus and redif of the descriptive gazel #203 in the Divan of the Janissary poet Aşkî of Üsküdar in the court of Suleiman the Magnificent, a poem which constitutes a perfect example of such cases and offers unique materials both for a historical dictionary of Turkish and the history of Ottoman material culture. Based on the evidence from Aşkî’s gazel, with zant being a redif in which the object is depicted as the poem’s focus, zant can be defined as a type of fringy, reddish headgear that resembles a hawk with spread wings.
Costume albums made to order for foreigners by Turkish “marketplace artists,” as termed by Metin And (1985, pp. 40-45), or even made by skilled foreigners are invaluable documents that depict daily life scenes, offer visual materials regarding the dress styles of individuals from different Ottoman social classes in particular, and can also serve as a guide for Ottoman poetry. The visual material that can assist the study in speculating about the meaning of zant that Aşkî depicted in his gazel, which the present article explores, is found in the book of costumes titled Bilder aus dem Turkischen Volksleben, registered in the Austrian National Library under Code 8626. Thanks to the data obtained through a literature review based on a successive series of searches starting with Reinhart P. Dozy’s (1845) Dictionaire détaillé des noms des vêtements chez les Arabes, the study is able to safely confirm that one of the two images identified therein contains a zant. As informed by Western scholars of Mamluk studies who draw upon Dozy and L. A. Mayer (1952), the zant was a bright red headgear made of goat’s wool, unique to the Circassian Mamluks, who were also known as the Burji Mamluks.
Thanks to the accounts of travelers who visited late medieval Egypt, eye-witness information exists about what the zant looked like, with a surviving example currently on display in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Dietrich von Schachten had traveled to the Near East in 1491 and described the zant as red headgear with finger-length thrums and a muslin wrapped around it. Arnold von Harff, another contemporary German traveler, left a drawing of a dervish wearing a zant. Likewise, zants of various shapes and sizes are represented in Ottoman miniatures and illustrations of furusiyya texts, as well as in paintings by Venetian Renaissance artists such as Bellini, Carpaccio, and Mansueti.