WW1 Ottoman Turkish carving. Can anyone help with translation?

Atlantia

Member
English - Britain
Good afternoon Colleagues,

Below is part of the lid of a carved cigarette case that seems to have been carved by a prisoner of war in WW1.
It is particularly interesting as it has an inscription and is surrounded by what seem to be thistles.
Unfortunately I cannot read Turkish, so cannot understand this little message from history.
Could anyone help please? Even a part translation would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks and a happy new year to you all.

Turkish POW carved Cigarette box inscription.jpg
 
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  • drowsykush

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    It must be Ottoman Turkish, its alphabet is different from today's Turkish. Someone on the forum who knows how to read Ottoman Turkish can help.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Thank you for looking, I've changed the title to add Ottoman, so hopefully that might hep attract those who can help.
    Thanks again.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    I'm not sure if this is going to be of any help, but now that I have the item with me, I've taken a better picture.
    Looks like a date at the top, 133-5?
    WW1Turkish POW.JPG
     

    drowsykush

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I think the date is ١٢٣٥ (1235).

    As per Hijri calendar, the year 1235 corresponds to the year 1820 in the Gregorian calendar.

    The photo is clearer now, but the letters are still confusing.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi Drowsykush,

    Thanks again for your help.
    It does look like ١٢٣٥ (1235) but the identified examples of these are from the first world war. If you look at the attached, there is a tiny central point that I think does make it ١٣٣٥ (1335) which fits in the range of the war ( I think it makes it 1916/17 doesn't it?).

    WW1Turkish POWb.jpg

    I did wonder if the design was a copy of an Ottoman award or military badge, but I'm drawing a blank in my research.
    WW1Turkish POW full.jpg


    The foliage looks like thistles, which is certainly another source of confusion for me.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi Drowsykush,

    Thanks again. That box in the IWM is one of the nicest and they have a few.
    Some are very plain and simple, mine is a reasonable one, slightly above average I'd say.
    SDC14463.JPG

    SDC14462.JPG

    SDC14464.JPG


    It's a strange design, the bulk of the area is a simple foliate design that looks like thistles, but the complicated part is this inscription. The Tughra is simply carved, but he's taken a lot of time to get the writing neat and detailed.
    I can only think of two possibilities, it's a copy of his regimental badge/generic Ottoman symbol. Or it's a personal message.
    If it's a personal message, then it would be really nice to know what.
    The Ottoman empire was far reaching and I'd assume that they had troops from their colonies, if the message is personal, might it not even be in Turkish?
     
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    Cagsak

    Senior Member
    Hi Drowsykush,

    Thanks again. That box in the IWM is one of the nicest and they have a few.
    Some are very plain and simple, mine is a reasonable one, slightly above average I'd say.
    View attachment 66330
    View attachment 66331
    View attachment 66332

    It's a strange design, the bulk of the area is a simple foliate design that looks like thistles, but the complicated part is this inscription. The Tughra is simply carved, but he's taken a lot of time to get the writing neat and detailed.
    I can only think of two possibilities, it's a copy of his regimental badge/generic Ottoman symbol. Or it's a personal message.
    If it's a personal message, then it would be really nice to know what.
    The Ottoman empire was far reaching and I'd assume that they had troops from their colonies, if the message is personal, might it not even be in Turkish?
    I reckon it's written in Urdu. It may be of Pakistan origin.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    I reckon it's written in Urdu. It may be of Pakistan origin.
    Hi Cagsak,

    Thank you, I would not have considered Urdu for an Ottoman troop. But I guess a large empire could have all manner of minority langauges within it. I'll post a picture on the Indo-Iranian languages board and ask for confirmation.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    It’s not Turkish or Persian
    Hi newKatolomb

    Thank you, adding Persian to the list of languages we can discount is helpful.
    If not Ottoman Turkish, I would have thought possibly Arabic or Persian as two of the most likely Ottoman languages. Hopefully we are getting closer to a translation.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Our colleague Qureshpor (on the Urdu board) has confirmed that this is not Urdu.
    The quest continues.
    I am able to read both Persian and Urdu and as far as I can tell, the inscription is neither. It may be crystal clear to someone who can read it, but I can not decipher any of it. At the top, I can see 1330 which would equate to 1911-1912. Also, I see a word resembling انار which in both Persian and Urdu means pomegranate but this is all conjecture I am afraid!

    Edit: If it is 1335, then the Gregorian date would be 1916-1917.
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Good evening Quresphor,
    Thank you again for your help.
    Reading your post made me start thinking about pomegranates...
    Which led me to wonder how they look when growing (I've inverted the picture):
    1920px-Pomegranate_Fruit_Setting.jpg

    By Sanjay Acharya - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Pomegranate Fruit Setting.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Which makes me wonder if the foliage carved onto the box is something other than thistles:
    WW1Turkish POW mk2.jpg


    There are certainly similarities. I assumed thistles as they are something common in the UK and the carving resembles them. I've never seen a pomegranate that wasn't for sale in a shop. Perhaps this is a case of a homesick soldier carving things that remind him of home?
    What do you think?
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Good evening Quresphor,
    Thank you again for your help.
    Reading your post made me start thinking about pomegranates...
    Which led me to wonder how they look when growing (I've inverted the picture):
    View attachment 66465
    By Sanjay Acharya - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Pomegranate Fruit Setting.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    Which makes me wonder if the foliage carved onto the box is something other than thistles:
    View attachment 66466

    There are certainly similarities. I assumed thistles as they are something common in the UK and the carving resembles them. I've never seen a pomegranate that wasn't for sale in a shop. Perhaps this is a case of a homesick soldier carving things that remind him of home?
    What do you think?
    Good evening @Atlantia. I think you could be right. I've just looked at pictures of pomegranate plants with fruit and foliage and they indeed do resemble the inscription! Now, you definitely need the inscription to be decoded!:)

    Take a look at this article.

    Pomegranates in Turkish Art + Gastronomy
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Good evening @Atlantia. I think you could be right. I've just looked at pictures of pomegranate plants with fruit and foliage and they indeed do resemble the inscription! Now, you definitely need the inscription to be decoded!:)

    Take a look at this article.

    Pomegranates in Turkish Art + Gastronomy
    Good evening Qureshpor,

    Here in the UK, the pomegranate was always quite an exotic fruit and even now, mostly features in UK diets as a fruit juice from a carton rather than a fresh fruit.

    Thank you for the article, I enjoyed reading it. I mostly think of the legend of 'Persephone and the pomegranate' when I think of them. It's interesting to see their influence in global culture.



    I certainly hope that the rest of the description can be decoded.

    Thank you again.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Good evening Qureshpor,

    Here in the UK, the pomegranate was always quite an exotic fruit and even now, mostly features in UK diets as a fruit juice from a carton rather than a fresh fruit.

    I certainly hope that the rest of the description can be decoded.

    Thank you again.
    I also dwell in this green and pleasant land (Hymn no. 446 - Jerusalem- in my school Hymn book!) and for this reason I know what you are talking about. I think this fruit is eaten, quite commonly, by people from the Subcontinent and Iran, Turkey etc. I was in Turkey recently and had plenty of fresh pomegranate juice there, especially in Konya.

    I hope you do find someone who is able to translate the writing. I would love to hear from you when you do. (Try, an elderly lady or gent within the Turkish community, local to you. You never know!)
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    If the WWI period is correct, I have a partial suggestion, inspired by this: Tughra - Wikipedia

    It is likely that the calligraphy in the centre is an informal execution of the tughra of the penultemate Ottoman emperor, Mehmed V Reshad (r. 1909-1918). Mehmed/Muhammad can be easily made out at the bottom part of it, and what Qureshpor read as anaar is probably actually Reshad. Just below this - again easily read: "sene 4", i.e. the 4th regnal year. Starting from his enthronement in 1909/1327, this would yield the year 1912/1330. This would be consistent with the year at the top - so far read as 1235/1335 - if there was any tradition of writing the 0 as ɔ. I have to admit, I am not specifically aware of any such tradition - but I am no expert on the matter either. In any case, the gap on the left is quite prominent in this glyph, which would also be somewhat against reading it as 5.

    Of the main body of the text around this central standard Ottoman "emblem", I have no idea. I seem to see a few -ler/lar the Turkish plural suffix. But that may be totally my figment of imagination as well.
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Thanks again Qureshpor.

    Hi Dib,

    Thanks for your help. My apologies for the delay in responding.
    I wonder if as this was being chip carved in a POW camp he didn't just knock a chunk out of the 5?
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    if the message is personal, might it not even be in Turkish?
    There were many other "Muslim" languages spoken in the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately I can't read the script, but as far as I know, it was also used by Muslims who spoke Albanian, Bosnian, Greek, Kurdish and various Caucasian languages.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    There were many other "Muslim" languages spoken in the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately I can't read the script, but as far as I know, it was also used by Muslims who spoke Albanian, Bosnian, Greek, Kurdish and various Caucasian languages.
    Not to mention regional languages like Kurdish and Turkmen, which were also written with the Arabic script.
     
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