Commerce of the Soul – a Mevlevi line

The following is a line from the small Turkish section of the Rebâbnâme of the sufi poet Sultan Veled (son of Mevlânâ), followed by my feeble attempt at transliteration and E. J. W. Gibb’s translation:

كندوزندن يوز صورت بر جان الر *  شهر الر بازار الر دكان الر (Gibb 1909: 2)

Kendüzinden yüz surat bir cân olur * Şehir olur, bâzâr olur, dükkân olur

Of itself a soul will myriad forms assume – City, market-place, or shop will it become (Gibb 1900: 159)

This is 14th century Anatolian mysticism – yet the sphere of consumption already lends itself as a metaphor for expansion of consciousness, transcendence of immediate existence. And why not? Especially along the Silk Road commodities from faraway lands must have materialised the possibility of an existence beyond the confines of one’s traditional place and position. A shop contained the wonders of the world, contained dreams.

Gibb, E. J. W. (1900 & 1909): A History of Ottoman Poetry, Vol.s 1 & 6, Gibb Memorial Trust.

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