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Symposium Celebrating Ibrahim Müteferrika, the Hungarian Who Brought Printing to Türkiye

MTI-Hungary Today 2024.05.23.
The bust of Ibrahim Müteferrika

To celebrate the Hungarian-Turkish Cultural Year, the National Széchényi Library (OSZK) and the Presidential National Library in Ankara held a symposium on the life and work of Ibrahim Müteferrika (1674-1745), an 18th-century Transylvanian diplomat and pioneering printer.

This event marks the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Turkey, emphasizing Müteferrika’s role in connecting the two cultures.

The symposium, titled “Who Connects Us: Ibrahim Müteferrika,” is part of a series of events honoring the Hungarian-Turkish Cultural Year. Müteferrika, a Hungarian-born writer of Ottoman-Turkish origin, established the first Turkish printing press, producing Turkish archival publications and hungaricums.

His interdisciplinary legacy spans history, geography, language, literature, diplomacy, and printing.

Müteferrika’s grave. Photo: turkmagyarizi.com

Bernadett Varga, Head of the Early Printed Books Repository at the OSZK, highlighted the special place of Turkish printing in Hungarian-Turkish cultural relations. She noted the positive aspect of printing being introduced to the Ottoman Empire by a Transylvanian-origin individual, marking a significant chapter in their shared history.

The OSZK preserves fifteen rare publications from Müteferrika’s printing house, first added by Ferenc Széchényi (1754-1820), the founder of the National Library. Over two centuries, this collection has expanded. Müteferrika, an enigmatic diplomat and printmaker, produced seventeen publications between 1729 and 1742.

His works, reflecting his scientific interests, covered geography, history, linguistics, travelogues, political philosophy, and magnetism, deliberately excluding religious texts.

Müteferrika’s tombstone scripture. Photo: turkmagyarizi.com

The symposium and broader events of the Hungarian-Turkish Cultural Year highlight Müteferrika’s enduring legacy and the historical and cultural ties between Hungary and Turkey. The focus on interdisciplinary analysis underscores the significance of understanding historical figures and their influence on international relations and cultural exchange.


Ibrahim Müteferrika was born in 1674, in Cluj Napoca (died in 1745 in Constantinople). Little is known about his youth, but the boy, who had planned to become a Reformed pastor, was certainly brought to Turkey as a slave. We know from his autobiographical work of 1715, that it was during his studies with the Calvinists that he was introduced to the art of printing books. In 1717, he was appointed myteferrik (müterrefika) by Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha. He later became the Turkish interpreter of Francis II Rákóczi until the latter’s death. The first Turkish printing house was opened in Constantinople by Müteferrika in 1727, with the permission of Ahmed III.

Hungary and Türkiye Celebrate Shared Heritage with Unveiling Yunus Emre's Statue
Hungary and Türkiye Celebrate Shared Heritage with Unveiling Yunus Emre's Statue

"Hungary and Turkey's enduring friendship and strategic alliance."Continue reading

Via MTI; Featured Image: muteferrika.mtak.hu

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