The Rūznāme is a rare example of a manuscript scroll originating in the Ottoman Empire. Although it accounts for the Hijri year 1225 (1810–1811), it was likely produced much later. This might mean that the Rūznāme was intended as a richly-decorated souvenir or reminder of a particularly important year.

The manuscript

This scroll is penned on vellum, a writing material prepared from calfskin. The main text was copied by a man named Mustafa or Hikmet-i San in Istanbul. The majority of the almanac is written diagonally in black ink in the rık’a style of calligraphy. At the start of the scroll and alongside the tables, flowers and shapes are used as illumination. There is also a şemse, or sun, in gold containing the calligrapher’s name written in white using the nesih style.

In addition to the manuscript, a small red morocco leather tube was constructed for the scroll. This protects the document when not in use, and indicates that it was intended to be kept rolled up, rather than as a flat piece of text.

Why is it so important?

The Rūznāme shows the importance of calendars and time-keeping in Islam. The document contains exact times for prayers on each day of the Hijri year for the Istanbul region. This is complemented by a gurrename, or listing of the start of each of the twelve lunar months. Knowledge of such events was deemed to be so important that Ottoman calligraphers would prepare lavishly decorated almanacs such as these as souvenirs.

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.