За живота на един светец и един интересен надгробен паметник от 1478/1479 г.

On the life of a saint and an intriguing tomb stone from 1478/ 1479

  • Katerina Venedikova Institute for Historical Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


The study is dedicated to the Muslim Saint Osman Baba. His cloister (Teke) and his tomb (Türbe) are a place of worship even today in Teketo village, Haskovo region. In Ottoman – Turkish lives, documents, building inscriptions, epitaphs and seals his name appears in three written variants – ‘Osman, A/Ot,man and Otman, as well as it was read in a fourth phonetic version – Odman. There are assumptions that two saints have existed. According to his epitaph, he died in 883 by Hijra or 1478/ 1479 AD. According to his life, compiled 5 years after his death, he left this world on Receb 8th 883 or October 5th 1478 AD, Monday.

The author, reading the Lives of Saints Osman Baba and Demir Baba, documents, inscriptions and studies, presents details of his life. Osman Baba visited and stayed in dozens of villages in Bulgaria and passed away in Haskovo area. He communicated with high-ranking state men and spiritual leaders from the age in which he lived. The Saint’s Life contains at least six episodes describing the close relationships and also the conflict situations between Mahmud Pasha and Mehmed II the Conqueror and his family as well as with Osman Baba himself. Mahmud Pasha was the Great Vizier of Mehmed the Conqueror, an young Christian ecclesiastic converted into Islam, probably a son of a priest from Bitola in origin, who built the Grand Mosque (Byuyuk Mosque, Jami-i Kebir) in Sofia. Today the building houses the National Museum of Archaeology. Early epigraphic pieces have not been preserved in the Muslim cloisters in Bulgaria. Only the tombs have survived in the cloisters of Demir Baba near Sveshtari, Kademli Baba near Grafitovo village, Nova Zagora region, and Akyazala Baba near Obrochishte, Balchik region, but the building inscriptions and the epitaphs of the saints have not reached our time or have been taken from our lands during wars. Unlike them, more than 10 inscriptions from the 15th to the 19th c. relating to Osman/ Otman Baba and his cloister have been preserved in the village of Teketo and other villages in the Eastern Rhodopes.

In 2006 the author of these lines published the building inscription in Turcized Arabic over the door of the tomb in Teketo village. It is dating from 1507/ 1508 AD when the building was constructed. The inscription is dedicated to A/Otman Baba known as Hyusam Shah. The second line contains written in words eight hundred and thirteenth year by Hijra = May 6th 1410 – April 25th 1411 AD, probably the date of Otman’s death. The work presents also a couple of other monuments.

The author describes a site with a monument where Osman Baba stayed for the first time. This site is also known as the place of his death. Further on she points out to some settlements that are supposed to contain a grave or a cloister in honour of the saint.

 The epitaph of ‘Osman Baba in Middle Turkish language from 1478/ 1479 takes a central position in the study. None of those who have described the Teke for 90 years found there this epitaph on a stone at the head on the grave inside the tomb of Otman Baba where it was set up recently. According to eyewitnesses, there was a polygonal column on the grave in the tomb which is now missing.

Only one more tomb stone from the 15th c. is known in Bulgaria, from Slaveykovo village, Varna region, published by N. Panayotov in 2002. It contains a cross and is dating from 1480/ 1481. Besides the Hijra’s scarred year, the tomb stone does not include an Ottoman – Turkish text fit for study and comparison.

The author presents also a description of the anthropomorphic tomb stone of Osman Baba from 1478/ 1479 and facsimiles of its broken parts as well as of the whole inscription. There follows the reading of the text in transcription in Latin which has not been published so far, a translation in Bulgarian and a very detailed comment. The detailed paleographic analysis shows that the writing displays the peculiarities of syulyus (sülüs), nesih (naskhi) and talik. The text is partially vocalized and there are some misspellings in it.

A thorough linguistic analysis of older words and forms (içre, acun, şol) is also presented, and a special attention is paid to some Sufi terms, phrases and titles (silm, şah, baba, pir, sultan, el alanlar, kutbül arifin). A critical analysis of publications on the same inscription follows. Documental data is also presented on the existence of two cloisters (zaviye) in the 16th c. – one in the name of Osman Baba and another one in the name of Otman Baba accompanied by a list of the dervishes in each register. So it is confirmed that there were at least two monasteries (tekke). The early registers also show a large number of dervishes who have adopted Islam.

Further on the author presents two more inscriptions from the tekke of Osman Baba in Teketo village found on two marble anthropomorphic columns from 1586/ 1587 and 1625/ 1626.


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