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Matrakçı Nasuh

Matrakçı Nasuh
Born 1480
Visoko, Sanjak of Bosnia, Ottoman Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ottoman Empire
Died c. 1564
Known for Matrak, Ottoman miniature

Nasuh bin Karagöz bin Abdullah el-Visokavi el-Bosnavî, or Nasuh el-Matrakči ibn Karađoz ibn Abdulah el-Visokavi el-Bosnevi, commonly known as Matrakçı Nasuh (Turkish pronunciation: ; Bosnian: Matrakčija Nasuh Visočak) for his competence in the game of Matrak, invented by himself, (also known as Nasuh el-Silâhî, Nasuh the Swordsman, because of his talent with weapons; 1480 – c. 1564) was a 16th-century Bosniak[1][2][3] statesman of the Ottoman Empire, polymath, mathematician, teacher, historian, geographer, cartographer, swordmaster, navigator, inventor, painter, farmer, and miniaturist. He was brought to Istanbul after being recruited by the Ottoman scouts in Rumelia, educated, served several Ottoman sultans, and became a teacher at Enderun School.[4]


  • Life 1
  • Works 2
    • Mathematics 2.1
    • History 2.2
    • Martial Arts 2.3
  • Gallery 3
  • Honors and legacy 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Matrakçı Nasuh (bin Abdullah; son of Abdullah), born in the Bosnian town of Visoko,[5] was a gifted Janissary who went through both the Infantry and devşirme system, a gifted swordsman, and sharpshooter well known for his intellect; he spoke five languages and was recruited into the Ottoman Navy.

Although born to Bosnian Muslim parentage, Nasuh was drafted into the devşirme system, otherwise reserved for the Christian populace of the empire. Exceptionally, however, in Bosnia, the devşirme was also extended to local Muslim families.[6][7][8]

After a long period of studies on mathematics and geometry, he wrote his works Cemâlü'l-Küttâb and Kemalü'l- Hisâb and submitted them to the Ottoman sultan Selim I. He wrote also the two books named Mecmaü't-Tevârih and Süleymannâme. They deal with the history of the period of 1520–43. He also wrote a historical piece on the Persian campaign of Suleiman I titled Fetihname-i Karabuğdan. A recent study of his book Umdet-ul Hisab revealed an unknown fact that Matrakçı had invented some genuine multiplication methods. One of the significant results displayed in this book was that the lattice method had been widely used in the Enderun School nearly 50 years before John Napier reintroduced it to Europe.[9]

Besides his works on mathematics and history, he is famous because of his miniatures. He created a naturalist style which focuses on panoramic views of landscapes and cities painted with the greatest detail (his most famous work, the Istanbul landscape picture, shows almost every street and building of the city). In Ottoman miniature art, this was later known as the "Matrakçı style". The most important of his four historic volumes of miniatures is the one dealing with Suleiman I’s first Iran-Iraq campaign in 1534–35, upon which he had written his historical work Fetihname-i Karabuğdan. Besides illustrating the march of the Ottoman army from Istanbul to Baghdad and then Tabriz and its return via Halab and Eskisehir, Nasuh also includes all the cities met by the army along the way. The Library of Istanbul University hosts the only copy of this work.

Nasuh was also a soldier and a master bladesmith. He worked as a weapons teacher at Enderun School. He and his students demonstrated their skills in a show which was part of the circumcision celebrations of Suleiman I's sons. Because of his success in this demonstration, Nasuh received the honorary title of Ustad ("master") and Reis ("chief") from the Sultan. He also wrote a book about usage of various weapons and techniques of cavalry and infantry fight, called Tuhfet-ül Guzât.[10][11][12][13][14]



  • Cemâlü'l-Küttâb
  • Kemalü'l- Hisâb
  • Umdetü'l-Hisâb


Martial Arts

  • Tuhfet-ul Guzat (Gift of Warriors)


  • Fortresses of Matrakci - plan [15]
  • City of Diyarbakir - illumination [16]

Honors and legacy

In his hometown Visoko, in Bosnia, annual conferences are held in honors of most important people from Visoko, and Matrakčija is considered as one of the most important. For illustration, he is regarded as Bosnian Leonardo da Vinci.[17] Also a street near Hometown Heritage Museum Visoko (Zavičajni Muzej Visoko) is located is named after him Matrakčijina (English: Matrakci's Street).[18]

Documentary film about Matrakci was produced by Turkish Radio-television in 1978.[19]


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  6. ^ The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600, Halil Inalcik, (1973), p. 78.
  7. ^ The Balkans since 1453, L.S. Stavrianos, (New York, 1958), p. 84.
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External links

  • A gallery of his miniatures at Bilkent University
  • Game of Matrak - Turkish website
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