First Edition of The Mesnevi & Mevlana in Konya – Chapter 2,
They began to write the Mesnevi. Day and night, on the road and in the vineyards Mevlana recited the poetry without stopping to rest. With love and ardor, Celebi Husameddin wrote without tiring. The volumes were being filled. When almost at the sixth volume the number of couples was 25, 618. Celebi Husameddin only kept up with Mevlana with difficulty, he composed the verse so fluently as if it were a flowing stream. Whenever Mevlana stopped for a while Celebi would read the draft to Mevlana and they would make small corrections. Upon completion, the draft was re-written and arranged into six volumes. However, this first copy has not survived. The oldest edition in existence is a handwritten manuscript, the earliest to have survived to the present day among the thousands of copies of the Mesnevi which were made. It is exhibited in Konya Mevlana Museum. This manuscript book is not only the first edition of Mevlana’s Mesnevi, but a Seljuk period masterpiece of the art of writing and gilded illumination. Its value cannot be measured in millions. According to an inscription in the book, it was written in 1278, 5 years after Mevlana’s death and completed in the month of November. It was inscribed by the calligrapher and Mevlevi Dervish Mehmed son of Abdullah from Konya and decorated by an artist called Mevlevi Muhlis. The title pages of each volume are gilded from top to bottom and the other pages arranged in four columns, each page made of silk paper. Its binding is a work of art in its own right. The gilded pages shine as they did when the works was written 700 years ago. It is recorded at the end of the book that this copy of the Mesnevi was inspected by Celebi Husameddin and Mevlana’s son Sultan Veled, who pronounced it faithful to the original copy. There are many manuscript books in the world’s museums, there for their age, or because they are a single edition, or for their artistic value.
But none of them can be compared to this edition in the Mevlana Museum, for the following reasons:
1 — This work is that of Mevlana Celaleddin, one of the world’s great men. His works have taken their place among the world’s classic literature.
and have been translated into many languages, and this is the first edition of his greatest work the Mesnevi.
2 — It is one of the finest examples of the Seljuk period art of decoration.
3 — Not only its decoration but also the paper on which it is written, the writing and the binding are examples of the finest craftsmanship. Each of its pages is a work of art in themselves.