Sixteenth to Early Twentieth Century

Conference and Related Events |
Conference Abstracts
Oleg Akimushkin The History and Significance of the Ardebil Library
Leili Anvar Chenderoff William Jones and His Contribution to Persian Studies
Michael Barry Joao de Barros (1496–1570) and the Modern European Discovery of Persia
Elio Brancaforte Seventeenth-Century European Translations of Sa‘di’s ‘Gulistan’
Sonja Brentjes The Representation of Iran in Western Maps from 1300 to 1840
Dominic Parviz Brookshaw The Study of Persian at Oxford in the Seventeenth Century
Christoph Buergel Rosenzweig-Schwannau, Platen and Bodenstedt: Three Nineteenth-Century German Private Scholars and Iranologists
Irving Finkel Iran and the Decipherment of Cuneiform Script
Michael H. Fischer Persian Teaching in India and in Britain during the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
Bert G. Fragner As Through a Veil – Hammer-Purgstall and his ‘Ottomanist’ View on Persian Literature
Talinn Grigor ‘Orient oder Rom’ Debate: The 1901 Invention of ‘Iran’s’ Architectural Heritage by European Art Historians
Robert Hillenbrand 1900–1914: Drawing the European Veil over the Face of Persian Painting
Robert Irwin Gobineau versus the Orientalists
Anatoly Ivanov Count Aleksei Aleksandrovich Bobrinsky as a Collector of Iranian Art
Elena Korolkova The Siberian Collection of Peter the Great and the Culture of the Ancient Iranian-speaking Nomads
Parvin Loloi The Historical Background to English Translations of Persian Literature, 1700–1916
Paul Luf Sir Robert Ker Porter: Wanderer between Three Worlds
Mary McWilliams ‘La Gracilite Persane’: Raymond Cox and the History of Persian Textiles
Nima Mina Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall’s Historiography of Persian Literature and its Aftermath
Pedro Moura Carvalho Sixteenth-Century Portuguese Works on Persia: Their Impact on Portugal and Europe
Ali Mousavi Persepolis and Susa: Rivalries, Nationalism, Politics and the Dawn of Scientific Archaeology in Iran
Nader Nasiri-Moghadam The Beginning of French Archaeology in Persia and its Impact on the Study of Persian Culture in the West
Alexander Nikitin The Study of Ancient Iranian Antiquities in Russia
Angelo Michele Piemontese The Emergence of Persian Grammar and Lexicography in Rome
Mikhail Piotrosvky Jakov Ivanovich Smirnov – Scholar and Curator
Francis Richard French Orientalists of the Seventeenth Century and the Discovery of Persian Culture
J. Michael Rogers Vasilii Vladimirovich Bartold and His Contribution to Iranian Studies
Giorgio Rota The Knowledge of Persia in Venice (c.1450–1797)
Eleanor Sims How the West Met the ‘Amazing Images’ of the East: The Development of Collections of Iranian Manuscripts in Europe and America
Priscilla P. Soucek A. V. Williams Jackson: 1862–1937
Ivan Steblin-Kamensky Three Centuries of Persian Studies in St. Petersburg
Mohammad Tavakoli-Targhi Iranian History and Orientalist Historiography
Beatrice Teissier Persian Classics in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Culture or Propaganda?
Sergei Tourkin Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies: The History of the Collection and Some Samples
Ramil Mirgasim Valeev and Alsu A. Arslanova The Study of Iranian Culture at Kazan in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Olga Vasilieva Persian Manuscripts in the Russian National Library: The Khanykov, Simonich and Dolgoruky Collections

The History and Significance of the Ardebil Library
Oleg Akimushkin

Only one of the narrative sources in Persian mentions Arabographic manuscripts at the shrine of the shaykh Safi al-Din Ishaq in Ardebil. This is the Alamara-yi Abbasi by Iskandar-beg Munshi who informs us that in 1016/1607-08 handwritten books were donated as a waqf from the library of the state chancery (daulatkhana) to the aforementioned shrine, together with items made of china, rock crystal and precious stones.

Yet nothing is said about the ketabkhane – the institution which united the functions of both the library, where the handwritten books were stored and where those who were interested could have read and studied them, and the workshop, where masters of manuscript crafts were making such books (such as, for example, the libraries of the Buyids in Shiraz, Rashid al-Din in Tabriz, Iskandar in Shiraz, Baysunghur in Herat and the Shibanids in Bukhara).

Apart from Iskandar-beg Munshi, two European travellers – Olearius and Morier – speak about the collection of manuscripts in Ardebil, a place which they had visited themselves during their travels. It should be noted that none of the aforementioned authors (an Iranian and two Europeans) says practically anything about the quantity of manuscripts which were at the library. All their notes speak generally about the library without giving concrete figures.

As of 24 March 1759, the Ardebil collection contained 972 manuscripts, 228 of which were of secular content. Of the latter, the largest numbers are currently preserved in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg (166 manuscripts) and the Iran Bastan Museum in Tehran (40 manuscripts). Other known volumes are scattered throughout various manuscript collections worldwide.

The paper will give a survey of the history and the destiny of the Ardebil collection of manuscripts.

Back to Index

William Jones and His Contribution to Persian Studies
Leili Anvar Chenderoff

William Jones’s contribution to the development of Persian studies in the context of what the Enlightenment historians call ‘the crises of literature’ and Anglo-Indian affairs was essential in the development of Persian studies not only in England but in Europe at large. The works, methods and judgements of this polymath and scholar are revealing of the interaction between political and literary issues in those days. As a pioneer in the promotion of Persian studies (though he had few contemporary followers), Jones constantly stressed both the literary and political advantages of learning and teaching Persian, though we may wonder today how the poetry of Hafiz could be of any help to the management of Indian affairs. The purpose of this paper is to show through a study of his discourses and correspondence as well as the response of his contemporaries that, in fact, his main interest was literary. He sincerely believed that a revival of English poetry was possible and necessary via an exposure to Eastern literature. His political justifications reveal more about the opinions of his contemporaries than those of himself but he had to interact with these contemporaries and make use of all his diplomatic art to make them hear what he had to say without making them react as they usually did to things Oriental, with a mixture of fascination, fear and disgust.

Back to Index

Joao de Barros (1496–1570) and the Modern European Discovery of Persia
Michael Barry

No sixteenth-century Portuguese writer better summarizes the imperial attitudes and strategic world outlook of the kingdom than Lisbon’s leading scholar in his own day, Joao de Barros (1496–1570), who had access to unprecedented masses of first-hand information on contemporary Asia, both as royal chronicler and as administrator from 1533 to 1567 of the Casa da India, or ‘India House’, in the capital. Barros wrote the justly celebrated and lucidly composed Decadas da Asia, which appeared between 1552 and 1563, describing the Portuguese ‘discovery and conquest of the seas and lands of the East’. Although he never travelled to the East himself, Barros ordered extensive translations of Asian chronicles from his informants abroad, and most of these texts, regarding the Gulf, Persia proper, and of course India, were rendered from the Persian language. Indeed, Barros may be said to be the very first European scholar in all history to commission, organise and use original Persian-language sources, including the records of the kingdom of Ormuz, a prose chronicle of all Persia’s dynasties from remotest times to the rise of the Safavids (the Tarikh of one Turan-Shah), and a biography of Timur-i Lang. Barros ransacks these Persian texts to provide his European readers with fascinating details on everything from the invention of chess to the fashion in Herat for decorating rooms with roses.

In order to fully justify Portugal’s strategic support for the early Safavids, Barros takes great care to distinguish Shi’i from Sunni Islam, invariably attributes more subtle doctrines and finer perceptions of the Godhead to the former than to the latter, and – perhaps of most lasting significance for later European perceptions – explicitly identifies Shi’ism with ‘Persia’ as against the ‘Turks’ and ‘Arabs’. Whether such a close identification is historically.

justified, and whether ‘Persia’ as a distinct identity at once cultural, national and religious should be so regarded as early as the reigns of Shah Isma‘il (Barros’s ‘Xeque Ismael’) and Shah Tahmasp (‘Xa Thamaz’), in sharp differentiation from ‘Turks’ and ‘Arabs’, is not so much the subject of discussion, in this paper, as the very fact that Barros was the first influential European writer in all history to emphasize such a view of an eternal, enduring ‘Persia’ – from Gayomars and from the Achaemenids, down to his own day.

Back to Index

Seventeenth-Century European Translations of Sa‘di’s ‘Gulistan’
Elio Brancaforte

This paper will examine the manner in which Sa‘di’s Gulistan (1258) reached a European audience during the seventeenth century. Sa‘di’s work was considered a rich source of ‘Oriental wisdom’ and its maxims were included in European collections of ‘apophthegmata’ and self-help books that were meant to help the bourgeoisie learn how to behave at court, in the tradition of Baldassare Castiglione’s Cortegiano (1528) and Baltasar Gracian’s Oraculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia (1647).

The translations that will be considered are:

  • André du Ryer’s Gulistan ou l’Empire des Roses (Paris, 1634)

  • Johan Ochsenbach’s Gulistan, das ist, Königlichen Rosengart (Tübingen, 1636)

  • Georg Gentius’s Gulistan – Musladini Sa‘di Rosarium Politicum (Amsterdam, 1651

  • Adam Olearius’s Persianischer Rosenthal (Schleswig, 1654).

The paper will focus on the specific historical circumstances of each of these translations, and consider the reception of the work in the context of the audience for which it was written, addressing such questions as:

1. What was the role of the translator (what linguistic difficulties did the translator experience; how was the material ‘adapted’ for his reading public, i.e. were sections abridged or amended)?

2. What effect did the translation have (e.g. in Germany the translations influenced contemporaries, as well as later authors such as Herder and Goethe)?

3. The early modern age was also the era of language academies, charged with fostering the development of the national language. What role did the translation play in this context?

Finally, the paper will consider a few of the engravings that accompanied the various translations – why certain scenes were chosen to be illustrated and the relationship between image and text.

Back to Index

The Representation of Iran in Western Maps from 1300 to 1840
Sonja Brentjes

Western maps between 1300 and 1840 have portrayed Iran in a variety of ways – as an unbound and mostly undefined region, as a region defined through ancient Greek historical and geographical writings with artificial, straight-edged boundaries; as a region defined by the ruling contemporary dynasty, named through Oriental sources, and demarcated by limits set by its three major neighbours; and as a region identified via Iranian historical literature, measured and named by Western explorers and students of Western and Oriental maps and books, and vague in borders except for periods of war. While most of these types did not exist in pure form, their basic qualities are clearly discernible. The paper will present specimens from Catalan and Italian portolan charts, so-called Ptolemaic regional maps, mid-sixteenth-century Italian territorial maps, and seventeenth- to nineteenth-century Dutch, French and German continental and regional maps, and discuss their cultural interdependence with ancient classical, medieval and early modern Oriental, and early modern and modern Western concepts of geography, mapmaking, and political theory. It will show that the creation of knowledge about Iran among Western geographers and cartographers was by no means a linear, cumulative process of gathering one piece of knowledge after the other, but a process that is better described by discontinuity and incommensurability, i.e. by moments of strong cartographic and geographical interest in Iran combined with distinct concepts of what geography and cartography were meant to achieve separated by periods of substantial cartographic and geographical disinterest in the region.

Back to Index

The Study of Persian at Oxford in the Seventeenth Century
Dominic Parviz Brookshaw

This paper will examine the activities of a dedicated group of Oxford academics, who studied (and perhaps also taught) Persian at Oxford in the 1600s. Encouraged by Edward Pococke (1604–1691), the first holder of the professorship in Arabic established by Archbishop William Laud in 1636, they published a number of Persian texts and other Persian-related materials in the mid- to late seventeenth century. This paper will focus on two seventeenth-century Oxonians who worked with Persian: John Greaves (1602–1652) and Thomas Hyde (1636–1703).

John Greaves’s formal training was as a mathematician and an astronomer. In 1630 he was appointed Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London and in 1643 he was appointed Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. In the late 1630s, Greaves travelled to Turkey and Egypt and, acting upon Professor Pococke’s request, acquired a number of Arabic and Persian manuscripts for the Bodleian Library. In 1648, Greaves published the Persian text of Ulugh Beg’s astronomical observations, the first book to be printed in Oxford with an Arabic font. It is his Persian grammar, however, published in 1649, which will be discussed in detail in this paper. Greaves’s Persian grammar is certainly one of the earliest (if not the first) to be printed in England. Its quality will be assessed from the point of view of accuracy, method and clarity, thereby giving us a sense of how well Persian was taught at Oxford in his lifetime.

Thomas Hyde studied Arabic at Cambridge under Abraham Wheelock (1593–1653), who himself had a working knowledge of Persian. Hyde began to study Persian at Cambridge and worked on the Persian section of a polyglot Bible. He subsequently moved to Oxford where he became the chief librarian in 1665, and Laudian Professor of Arabic following Pococke’s death in 1691. During the reigns of Charles II and James II, Thomas Hyde acted as interpreter and secretary in Oriental languages to the government. In 1665, Hyde continued the work of the late John Greaves by publishing Ulugh Beg’s longitude and latitude tables. In 1700, Hyde also published a history of ancient Persian religions. It is his Persian poems composed for royal occasions (published 1662–71), however, which will be examined in this paper. Hyde’s poems will be examined from a linguistic and literary angle to help evaluate his command of the Persian language and his familiarity with Persian literary tastes.

Original correspondence from Archbishop Laud (1573–1645), Edward Pococke, John Greaves and Thomas Hyde in which references are made to Persian will be used to provide a fuller picture of the state of Persian studies at the University in the seventeenth century. These letters will also shed light on the extent of collaboration between those who worked on Persian at Oxford during this period. Reference will also be made to those Persian manuscripts acquired by these men for their own private use or for the Bodleian Library, in order to give a more accurate sense of which Persian texts (literary, historical and/or scientific) were being studied or used as teaching aids during the seventeenth century.

Back to Index

Rosenzweig-Schwannau, Platen and Bodenstedt: Three Nineteenth-Century German Private Scholars and Iranologists
Christoph Buergel

Vinzenz Ritter von Rosenzweig-Schwannau (1791–1865), August Graf von Platen (1796–1835) and Friedrich von Bodenstedt (1819–1892) represent not only three different approaches to Persian studies, but also were different characters, with different biographies, which in their turn, reflect strands and attitudes of their respective societies or the social strata they belonged to.

Rosenzweig, a contemporary and compatriot of the well-known Orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, shared Hammer-Purgstall’s experience of learning Oriental languages at the Austrian embassy in Constantinople. Later in his life he became Professor of Oriental Languages at the Orientalische Akademie in Vienna. Apart from his masterpiece, the three-volume bilingual edition of Hafiz’s Divan, he published a number of Iranistic works which will be mentioned in this paper.

Platen was first and foremost a poet. His interest in Hafiz was strongly motivated by his homoerotic orientation. His Hafiz translations, even though based on a sound knowledge of Persian, were part and parcel of his own lyrical output, which comprises ghazels in the style of Hafiz.

Bodenstedt, perhaps the least important of the three figures, was however the most versatile and most productive. He achieved his knowledge of Oriental customs and languages while working as a teacher in Tiflis, were he made the acquaintance of Mirza Shaffy, who introduced him to Persian, Armenian and Georgian. His German translations of Hafiz and Omar Khayyam show his formal skills. However he gained unequal fame with his Lieder des Mirza Shaffy.

This paper attempts a balanced evaluation of these three figures and their interest in Hafiz. And the impact of their work in comparison to that of the more famous triad in relation to the nineteenth-century reception of Hafiz in the German language: Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Rückert.

Back to Index

Iran and the Decipherment of Cuneiform Script
Irving Finkel

This paper will consider the momentous achievements by various nineteenth-century scholars such as George Grotefend, Henry Rawlinson and Edward Hincks in deciphering cuneiform script and assess the resulting impact on our knowledge of ancient Iran.

The paper will then go on to look at the picture of Iran that existed before the benefit of these philological breakthroughs and then at some of the resulting developments over the ensuing 70 years of investigation. This of course includes both Old Persian, which was the key to the principal decipherment – which meant that for the first time the inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings could be read in their own words – and also ancient Babylonian. Following that there will be a brief consideration of the undeciphered Proto-Elamite script, and the later Elamite sources that have been largely deciphered but have proved so difficult for modern scholars to cope with.

In conclusion, the paper will take a fresh look at the text of the famous Cyrus Cylinder, the publication of which was greeted with astonishment and much consideration by scholars in a multitude of disciplines. Sometimes claimed as the first ‘Charter of Human Rights’, a more sober reading sees it as directly in the Babylonian tradition of royal inscriptions, and thus the paper will step back to consider the evolution of textual interpretation, and attempt some consideration of the role of the philologist and the limits of textual sources in the study of early Iranian history.

Back to Index

Persian Teaching in India and in Britain during the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
Michael H. Fischer

The teaching of Persian became highly contested during the early period of British rule over India. Indian scholar-officials, who for generations had served the Mughal Empire or one of its successor states, sought to perpetuate the Persianate high culture that they embodied. In both India and Britain, they and Iranian scholars worked to instruct Britons in Persian language, literature and high culture generally. Gradually, the colonial forces of Orientalism and Anglicization, however, reduced their standing both as teachers of Persian and as high-ranking imperial officials.

As Britons rapidly extended their control across India, they sought mastery over Persian as the ‘language of command’. In the early nineteenth century, the English East India Company established Fort William College in Calcutta and Haileybury and Addiscombe College in England to educate its newly appointed British officials and officers in Persian and other subjects necessary for rule. In all these institutions, British professors practising Orientalism asserted their alleged superiority over Asian teachers of Persian. After 1835, advocates of Anglicization made English replace Persian as the official language of British rule in India.

This paper explores the dynamics of Persian teaching in both India and Britain during this transitional period. It contrasts the educational institutions established in India and Britain over this period to teach Persian. It also examines the contests and collaborations between British and Asian professors of Persian in these institutions. It concludes with consideration of the long-term effects of these struggles over Persian, and the consequences of its replacement by English-medium education in India.

Back to Index

As Through a Veil – Hammer-Purgstall and his ‘Ottomanist’ View on Persian Literature
Bert G. Fragner

Among scholars devoted to Iranian studies, Joseph Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall is, first of all, famous as the person who inspired Goethe to his West-östlicher Divan. This he did, in fact, mainly by his Geschichte der Schönen Redekünste Persiens, by his German translation of Hafiz’s Divan, and, last but not least, by a huge amount of information and the results of his own philological research published in his Fundgruben des Orients, a quasi-scholarly journal published for a well-educated and widely interested German-speaking audience (which, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was geographically much wider spread than it is now).

A short glance at his biography proves that Hammer-Purgstall was not a university-trained academic scholar but rather a diplomat and a bureaucrat who was trained as a so-called Sprachknabe at the Orientalische Akademie founded during the reign of Maria Theresa, in Vienna. For a period of his life, Hammer-Purgstall was therefore not an academic teacher in Oriental languages but a member of old Austria’s diplomatic corps, serving in the Ottoman Empire. His language training had covered what the Ottomans called the elsine-i selase (the ‘Three Languages’) as basic linguistic requirements of high-styled Ottoman literacy: Arabic, Persian and Turkish. By acquiring all the standards of Ottoman higher education, he got deep insight into the way pre-modern Ottoman culture dealt with aspects of Persian language and literature, and Iranian culture in general. While Hammer-Purgstall spent many years of his life in the Ottoman Empire he never touched an inch of Iranian soil. We have therefore to take into consideration that what Hammer-Purgstall passed to Goethe and other Westerners concerning Persian literature and culture was in many respects based on Ottoman reflections on Persian culture, and not at all on impressions originating in Iran proper. This fact had various impacts on Western receptive attitudes as far as they were influenced by Hammer-Purgstall. This paper will aim to discern some aspects of this impact. It will also sketch a comparison of Hammer-Purgstall´s Habsburgian view on Iran and the Middle East in general with contrasting attitudes in other European countries.

Back to Index

Orient oder Rom’ Debate: The 1901 Invention of ‘Iran’s’ Architectural Heritage by European Art Historians
Talinn Grigor

Based on the findings of his archaeological digs, German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld compellingly argued, ‘The term ‘Iranian’ is derived from the political and geographical name of Aryanam Khshathram used in Achaemenid inscriptions.’ In November 1934, Reza Shah decreed the change of the country’s official name from Persia to Iran. While some historians ascribe this shift to the King’s chauvinistic nationalism, they often overlook the fact that, four decades earlier, the matter had been raised and contended by Western art historians.

In 1901, the so-called Orient oder Rom debate was inflamed by the simultaneous publication of two books. On the one hand, Italian archaeologist Giovanni Teresio Rivoira in his Le origini dell’architetura lombarda argued that the origin of Gothic architecture is to be found in Roman ingenuity. In Orient oder Rom, on the other hand, art history professor at Graz University Josef Strzygowski maintained, ‘The true source of Western artistic genius is located in the Indo-Germanic Geist.’ Naturally, both men insisted that each ‘is utterly objective, utterly scientific, and utterly correct’. Remarkably, Strzygowski continued to implore enthusiasts and sceptics alike to trace artistic connections ‘not to Persia, but to Iran’.

This heated art historical debate, predominantly concerned with the origin of Western architecture, not only had a direct bearing on the subsequent construct of a Universalist History of Architecture in the West, but also on how Iranian modernists began to perceive and (re)present themselves through a new kind of hybrid architecture at home. In the end, two hypotheses initiated in Rom set the theoretical framework for architectural productions in the Orient. The institutionalized neo-Achaemenid style of the 1920s, along with a wide range of policies and decrees, can be considered a mere echo of the 1901 Orient oder Rom debate, which has been thus far overlooked and understudied.

Back to Index

1900–1914: Drawing the European Veil over the Face of Persian Painting
Robert Hillenbrand

The period between 1910 and 1914 marks the sudden development of European scholarly interest in Persian book painting. This paper will focus on the key work done in these years in French, German and English.

The private collections which were formed in France between c.1900 and c.1914, and the associated exhibitions held in Paris in this crucial decade or so, are of paramount importance. The attitudes and interests of these French scholars, collectors and dealers – Vever and Cartier (both of them jewellers), Koechlin, Migeon, Marteau, Demotte, Anet, Goloubew, and behind them the august name of de Rothschild – set benchmarks for the evolution of the subject over much of the following century. And yet these attitudes and interests were formed on the basis of their very imperfect knowledge of an incomplete and skewed body of material.

In Germany, the major event of the pre-World War I period in this field was the great Munich exhibition of Islamic art in 1910; its multi-volume catalogue contained many high-quality reproductions. Persian book painting was well represented, with well-informed commentary (e.g. by Eugen Mittwoch). In the wake of this major event there appeared in 1914 the first attempt in any Western language to tackle the entire history of Persian book painting at appropriate length – Die Persische Islamische Miniaturmalerei by Philipp Schulz, a book that was far ahead of its time in scope, depth and subtlety. The paper will focus on those aspects of the book that were most innovative, and identify the missed opportunities in its reception – its ill-omened date of publication may have had much to do with this.

Finally, 1912 saw the publication of The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey by the Swedish dealer, entrepreneur and scholar F. R. Martin, which by virtue of its comprehensive illustrations alone was destined to serve as the principal handbook of the subject for the next generation and beyond. This book (important enough to be reprinted in 1971) provides an object lesson in the prescriptive power of a given set of illustrations in defining the nature of a nascent scholarly field.

The paper will end by identifying the principal characteristics of this pre-war scholarship and will analyse its effect on the future development of studies in Persian book painting.

Back to Index

Gobineau versus the Orientalists
Robert Irwin

This paper briefly sketches Gobineau’s contribution to Orientalism and more specifically to Persian studies. This was not negligible, as he provided early and vivid reports of ta’ziyya and of the Babist movement. He was one of the first to engage at some length with the nature of Persian Sufism. His writings inspired many who came after him, in particular Edward Granville Browne. Somewhat surprisingly, given his reputation as a right-wing ideologue, Gobineau was, like Browne, an anti-imperialist. However, his contribution to serious scholarship was somewhat vitiated, due, first, to his poor grasp of Arabic and Persian, secondly, to the way his history of Persia was deformed by his erroneous dogmas about the early migration of races and languages and, finally, by his reliance on occult lore rather than proper cryptoanalytic techniques in his vaunted decipherment of cuneiform. The paper then surveys the hostile and dismissive responses of contemporary Orientalists to Gobineau’s publications. Arguably Gobineau’s misreading of cuneiform provoked others (including Rawlinson) to produce more accurate versions. Gobineau’s view that Shi’ism, Sufism and falsafa were in some sense expressions of an Aryan resistance to Semitic monotheism, though swiftly rejected by some scholars, such as Wellhausen, was highly influential, especially on German scholarship in the field of Persian and Islamic studies.

Back to Index

Count Aleksei Aleksandrovich Bobrinsky as a Collector of Iranian Art
Anatoly Ivanov

Count Bobrinsky (1852–1927) was a well-known public figure in Russian life. For nine years he was President of the Oriental Section of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Society and, from 1886 to 1917, he headed the Imperial Archaeological Commission, which controlled archaeological work all over Russia. He excavated himself, for example, in Dagestan, though at a pre-Islamic site.

The Bobrinsky Collection is now in the Oriental Department of the State Hermitage Museum, to which it was transferred by the State Academy for the History of Material Culture in 1925. It consists of 162 pieces, all Islamic except for two aquamaniles in the form of a ram and a goose. Most of the pieces (77 in all) are Persian, dating from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries; 16 pieces are from Dagestan, from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries; 14 are from Central Asia; and nine pieces from Mesopotamia, Syria or Egypt. Other parts of the Islamic world are represented by single items. The most interesting are five early Abbasid dynasty objects, from, most probably, Northern Mesopotamia or Syria. The Persian metalwork is best represented by objects from twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Khorasan, most notably the famous Bobrinsky Bucket, a brass/bronze soap kettle signed by two craftsmen and made at Herat in 559/1163, with 24 pieces, and by 22 Safavid pieces, from the sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries.

The evolution of Bobrinsky’s Collection remains to be charted. There is some indication, however, that he acquired the collection of Prince Tsitsianov, who was Governor-General of Dagestan in the later nineteenth century. It is possible that the agent was a photographer, A. S. Roinov, from Temirkhanshura (present-day Buynaksk) in Dagestan. The purchase of many of these early pieces in Dagestan gave rise to the erroneous supposition in Russian scholarly publications that they were made there. In fact the only pieces with a Dagestani connection are eight cauldrons and one lid.

Back to Index

The Siberian Collection of Peter the Great and the Culture of the Ancient Iranian-speaking Nomads
Elena Korolkova

The provenance and attribution of the gold which came into the Siberian Collection of Peter the Great is still much debated. The lack of an archaeological context for any of them, however, has so far hampered any decisive conclusions.

Much of the collection bears the clear stamp of Achaemenid art. Recent controlled excavations which have provided comparative material include the Issyk kurgan in Kazakhstan and Takht-i Sangin in Tajikistan. The iconography of one piece with a scene of a gryphon attacking an ibex is also paralleled on a leather disc from Pazyryk. Like other parallels from the Altai in the first millennium bc, this reflects in varying degrees the interactions of Achaemenid Persia with the nomad cultures of Central Asia, Southern Siberia and Iran.

Back to Index

The Historical Background to English Translations of Persian Literature, 1700–1916
Parvin Loloi

Translations have always been an important part of Persian studies in Britain, and have played a significant role in advancing British interest in Persian culture. Initially, translations from Persian were relatively few in number, but grew more frequent as Persian scholarship developed. The pioneering translations (in Latin) of Thomas Hyde (1677) were followed by those of Sir William Jones almost a century later. Jones’s versions (in Latin, French, and English) did much to pave the way for later scholars. At the same time a large number of less literary translations were produced, often intended as cribs to assist British personnel in India to learn Persian and to pass their examinations.

Institutions such as the Royal Asiatic Society were important, and the establishment of the Oriental Translation Fund in 1828 played a very significant role. The enthusiastic work of members such as John Richardson, Forbes Falconer, Sir Gore and William Ouseley, and Professor E. B. Cowell further advanced the understanding of Persian literature during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Even more important, in some ways, were the numerous periodicals published during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Periodicals such as The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register, Asiatic Miscellany, Methodist Review, Temple Bar, Fraser’s Magazine, The Gentleman’s Magazine and others regularly published articles on Persian literature together with translations. Indeed, the very influential translations of Professor E. B. Cowell were published only in such periodicals. This paper will trace these historical contexts for English translations from Persian, paying particular attention to roles played by the institutions and individuals mentioned above and to the ways in which these varying contexts conditioned the kinds of translations that were produced.

Back to Index

Sir Robert Ker Porter: Wanderer between Three Worlds
Paul Luft

John Malcolm, James Morier, William Ouseley and Robert Ker Porter are probably the four most renowned English travellers to Iran in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Porter visited the country between 1817 and 1819. But whereas the first three were members of diplomatic missions he was properly an independent traveller, although commissioned by Olenin, the then president of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.

With Napoleon’s arrival, and in Russia even half a century earlier, travel literature moved increasingly to a different format, reflecting a change of emphasis driven by political considerations and military requirements. Often governments were directly involved or interested in these ventures for the sake of their imperial or colonial policies. Travelling for the purpose of discovery or research had already become in the eighteenth century less of an individual venture and more institutionalized, driven also by different discourses about ethnocentrism, intercultural comparison on a timeless scale or increasingly by the notion of an East–West dichotomy.

Porter’s work does not reflect these major political or ideological considerations. He was a wanderer between three worlds – Western Europe, Russia and Iran, an institution on his own: explorer, archaeologist, diplomat and above all painter. Here one has to stress that he was an exceptional figure among all his fellow travellers. He had the trained eye of a skilled draughtsman and painter. This visual ability gave his reports a level of exactness and accuracy rarely surpassed but was even more reflected in his drawings of antiquaries and genre scenes. Knowledge about the pre-Islamic world in Iran was still very much anchored in the classical literature and travellers’ reports from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His drawings of the various cuneiform inscriptions which were disseminated through his colleague Claudius Rich to Grotefend in Göttingen helped to decipher the Achaemenid cuneiform script and with it inaugurated the proper discovery of Iran’s literary and linguistic heritage. But it was not only the factual knowledge about Qajar society, his observations about manners and customs, which make him one of the major sources for Iran in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

He was also a significant contributor to the discourse about the nature of rule in Asia, the comparison between different cultures that increasingly pre-occupied the discussions in academic and political circles in Europe. Whereas at the beginning of the nineteenth century the European observer fell more and more under the spell of a cultural hegemonialism, Porter viewed his efforts to see and explore countries in the context of liberal speculation and generous curiosity, the superiority of the civilised mind over brutal force. For him the report of the traveller and gentleman served the enlightened tradition. His travel log does not reveal any notion of a barbarian or foreign world; on the contrary he passes through the ‘other world’ without any sign of prejudice. His upbringing and social environment, in particular with high aristocratic circles in England and Russia, had undoubtedly given him the necessary confidence to move among the Qajar ruling family with the same ease as he did among the European upper class, and one may add here, always as an observer, less restrained than was the case with most other travellers. His travel log published in 1821 soon therefore became a classic in its genre and is still today probably the best report of its kind for that period, unburdened by increasingly biased views about the ‘other’, inferior civilisation.

Back to Index

La Gracilite Persane’: Raymond Cox and the History of Persian Textiles
Mary McWilliams

Had the Afghan invasion of 1722 not occurred, Sir John Chardin’s survey of the arts and industries of Isfahan might well have laid the foundation for a systematic and continuing study of Persian textiles. Historical events to the contrary, however, it would be almost two centuries before European interest in Persian textiles would reawaken. Chief among those Western scholars of the second half of the nineteenth century who attempted to understand and order the abundant, if fragmentary, remains of Persian draw loom woven silks was Chardin’s fellow Frenchman, Raymond Cox.

Working with the collections at the Musée Historique des Tissus in Lyon, Cox created a comprehensive structure for the history of textiles, overlapping three cultural regions onto four historical periods, with the French silk-weaving industry as his endpoint. His four publications written from 1900 to 1914 reveal a manufacturing perspective as well as the influence of Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau’s racial theories. Coherent, if often incorrect, Cox’s narrative framed technical merit and quality of design as expressions of racial and cultural characteristics, resulting in an exaggerated assessment of Persian production and influence.

In contrast to the attention devoted to carpet studies, historiographic analyses have to date given only brief mention of Persian textiles. This paper will address the gap by comparing Cox to his contemporaries in the field, examining his influence on the market for Persian textiles, and assessing his contribution to the understanding and misunderstanding of this art form.

Back to Index

Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall’s Historiography of Persian Literature and its Aftermath
Nima Mina

In 1818 the Viennese publishing house Heubner und Bolfe brought Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall’s Geschichte der Schönen Redekünste Persiens (‘Redekünste’) to the German-speaking book market. The subtitle, … mit einer Blüthenlese aus zweyhundert persischen Dichtern, suggests conceptual similarities of this book with the genre of takiranevisi in classical Persian literature. Similar to its most important source, Amir Doulatsah Samaqandi’s Tazkiratushshu-ara , the Redekünste contains portraits of a selection of classical Persian poets in chronological order as well as 200 samples of their works in Hammer-Purgstall’s translation. Hammer-Purgstall’s Redekünste was

published five years after his two-volume edition of Hafiz published by Klett Cotta in Stuttgart. Hammer-Purgstall’s German Hafiz was a complete translation of the annotated edition of Hafiz’s poetic works by the eighteenth-century Bosnian philologist Sudi, including his commentaries and footnotes. Through his training at the Orientalische Akademie in Vienna and because of the practical expertise that he gained during his missions to Constantinople and Egypt in the Austrian diplomatic service, Hammer-Purgstall was first and foremost a Turkologist and Arabist. His publications include numerous monumental works in the fields of history and governmental law in the Middle East. From today’s point of view these works are interesting as historical milestones in the early stages of European Oriental studies. Hammer-Purgstall also devoted himself to the task of literary translations, primarily from classical Arabic and Ottoman Turkish into German. In addition to the German Hafiz and the Redekünste, Hammer-Purgstall’s literary translations from Persian into German also include a bilingual Persian–German edition of Mahmud Sabestari’s mystical poem Golsan-e raz (Mahmud Shabistaris Rosenflor des Geheimnisses, Pest 1838) and scattered poetic fragments published in the journal Fundgruben des Orients (Vienna, 1809–19). Although Hammer-Purgstall’s works on Persian literature appear marginal within the context of his entire oeuvre of over 100 volumes, they seem to have left a more significant impact on the early history of German Oriental studies and Orientalist literary writing than his Arabic and Turkish translations and literary historiographical writings.

Hammer-Purgstall’s Persian works, notably his German Hafiz and the Redekünste, owe their long-lasting effect to Goethe who used them as his main sources for the West-östlicher Divan (‘WoD’) and mentioned them in a prominent place in the annotation section of the WoD. While the poetic parts of the WoD were inspired by Hammer-Purgstall’s translations of Hafiz’s poetry, the cultural historical prose section was based on Hammer-Purgstall’s Redekünste. Goethe’s creative response to Hammer-Purgstall’s German Hafiz and the Redekünste helped Hammer-Purgstall’s work gain an indirect intellectual and literary aesthetic influence on generations of German Oriental scholars and writers, an influence he would have not achieved without Goethe as a mediator. Years after the publication of the Redekünste scholars and poets like Friedrich Rückert chose the path of Oriental studies because of the impression that Goethe’s WoD, and particularly its cultural historical prose section, had left on them.

Since the publication of Goethe’s WoD numerous critics have issued negative judgements on Hammer-Purgstall’s work as a literary translator. They see the WoD as proof of the genius of Goethe who was able to get through to Hafiz and understand him despite the literary and aesthetic shortcomings of Hammer-Purgstall’s Hafiz translations. As for the Redekünste, critics have chosen to be silent about it throughout the 185 years since its publication. Until today not a single coherent scholarly work has been dedicated to it. This paper will deal with the Redekünste, its history, the principles of its composition, the author’s reading of primary Persian source texts and his translation method. It will try to challenge the commonly held negative judgement of literary and cultural historians, Goethe philologists, scholars of German literary Orientalism and Oriental studies about the Redekünste.

Back to Index

Sixteenth-Century Portuguese Works on Persia: Their Impact on Portugal and Europe
Pedro Moura Carvalho

Unlike in the Qajar era, the history and culture of the Safavid period has generated a considerable number of works written by Portuguese authors. In fact, from the early decades of the sixteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century, more works were published about Persia than any other territory where the Portuguese had established themselves, including India and China. As early as 1515, a history of Iran from the Achaemenid period onwards was written by Tomé Pires, while three years later more recent events such as the Battle of Chaldiran, as well as the rise of Shi’ism as the new State creed were described by Duarte Barbosa. Other Portuguese – diplomats, clerics and lay travellers – have left us relevant visions of Persia in various fields, including political, religious, economic and scientific/scholarly life. Pedro Teixeira, for instance, published in 1610 his own translation of two local histories of Persia; he is also known to be the author of the earliest scientific account of how pearls are formed. Many of these works were translated into different Western languages and published in Antwerp, Venice, Rouen and Madrid, thus contributing to a wider knowledge of Persia in contemporary Europe. This paper will analyse the impact that these and other works had in Portugal and in Europe at the time. Furthermore it will try to find reasons to justify this unique interest in Persian culture. Reference will be made to the numerous works of art that from the early sixteenth century onwards reached Lisbon and Goa, including a copy of the Iskandar-name offered to the viceroy of Goa in the 1540s.

Back to Index

Persepolis and Susa: Rivalries, Nationalism, Politics and the Dawn of Scientific Archaeology in Iran
Ali Mousavi

The magnificent ruins of Persepolis strongly attracted the eyes of the travellers who visited this site from the fourteenth century onwards, whereas the other important capital of the Achaemenid kings, Susa, due to its remote situation hardly figured in travellers’ accounts. Strangely enough, the systematic excavations at Susa marked the beginning of archaeology in Iran. This important enterprise, initiated by a British team in the middle of the nineteenth century, was then resumed by the French delegation to Persia under the direction of Jacques de Morgan. The ancient ruins of Persepolis, sporadically excavated in the course of the nineteenth century, symbolized for a long time the grandeur of Persia but were hardly the object of systematic investigation. Instead, Susa gradually became the centre of the political and scientific interests of France in Iran.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, along with important socio-political changes in Iran, archaeological activities also underwent significant developments. The first major event was the Constitutional Revolution in 1906, which engendered and promoted new ideas, notably an awareness of Iran’s cultural heritage and economic resources, and stimulated nationalistic sentiments regarding the historical heritage of the country. The second factor in shaping the future of archaeology in Iran was undoubtedly the declining situation of the Qajar government and its end in 1925. The new ruling dynasty, the Pahlavi dynasty, could not necessarily be expected to respect all the concessions given by the Qajars. One of these concessions was of course the French Exclusive and Perpetual Right on archaeological excavations in Iran. These developments culminated in the decisive event of the abolition of the French monopoly in Persia in 1927.

From this date on, a new era in the history of Iranian archaeology began. The significant role played by Ernst Herzfeld, the celebrated German archaeologist, in shaping the future of archaeology in Iran resulted in the fact that Iranian archaeology moved out of its French era and became an international concern. Herzfeld was among the last giant scholars in the field of Oriental studies who was equipped with both an over-arching knowledge related to his vast field of interests and an exceptional talent in tackling difficulties. Coming from the same academic milieu as Eduard Meyer, Friedrich Sarre, Robert Koldewey and Walter Andrea, Herzfeld found himself in a critical period of time. His fight against the French monopoly resulted in the formation of the legislation and the institutionalisation of Iranian archaeology. Moreover, once the legislation was approved, Herzfeld began to excavate the important and prestigious ruins at Persepolis which yielded invaluable information on the history and archaeology of the Achaemenid empire. This period also includes the coming to Iran of other scholars such as André Godard and Arthur Pope, whose leading studies formed the basic knowledge on the history of Persian art and architecture. The ‘Herzfeld era’ seems to be the crucial juncture of old and new knowledge in the course of Oriental studies in Iran.

Back to Index

The Beginning of French Archaeology in Persia and its Impact on the Study of Persian Culture in the West
Nader Nasiri-Moghadam

During the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century in an atmosphere of intense rivalry between the great Western museums that were competing for the acquisition of Persian antiquities, France overtook its competitors. It signed three archaeological conventions with the Persian government that granted it: the authorisation to undertake excavations in Susa (1884), the exclusive privilege to carry out archaeological works in the whole of Persia (1895), and finally, the perpetual monopoly including the ownership of discoveries made in Susa (1900). Therefore the first French archaeological missions took, one after the other, the way of Persia. Season after season their discoveries entered the Louvre Museum where they were preserved, exhibited and studied. French archaeological works thus revealed new information concerning ancient Iran. What was the impact of this knowledge on the study of the Persian culture in the West? Was it the envy to possess, at all costs, Persian antiques that influenced the study of this culture in the West? Was it for these reasons that French archaeological excavations concentrated on Susa and what was the impact of this phenomenon on the study of the Persian culture in the West? This paper will try to answer these questions.

Back to Index

The Study of Ancient Iranian Antiquities in Russia
Alexander Nikitin

In the eighteenth century all the information on ancient Iran available to Russian scholars was limited to what Greek and Roman authors could tell them. Works of Iranian art, such as jewellery and silverware, were coming to the royal and private collections from the beginning of the century (mainly from finds in Siberia and the Southern Urals), but their systematic study began only in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the reign of Catherine the Great Oriental languages could be learnt only in practical schools for interpreters; there were no Oriental faculties in Russian universities till the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the first half of the nineteenth century the University of Kazan became the main centre of Oriental studies. At the same time the first articles dealing with Iranian antiquities appeared in Russian magazines. In 1817–20 the Russian Academy of Fine Arts sponsored an expedition to Persia, headed by British artist R. Ker Porter. He explored the ruins of Persepolis and other ancient sites and made many drawings from different monuments. In 1840–41 Baron K. A. Bode visited Iran and then published a series of articles in the Papers of the Russian Geographic Society dealing with Achaemenid antiquities. B. Dorn in his numerous articles and papers considered many problems of Iranian numismatics and epigraphics. He visited the Caspian area of Iran. He also published an album of Sassanian coins from the collection of General J. de Bartholomaei (1872).

Among the prominent Russian collectors of ancient Iranian coins were also General A. V. Komarov (some of his coins originate from the Sassanian fortress of Gyaur-kala in Merv) and P. V. Zubov. Zubov acquired most of the famous European Sassanian collections, including that of A. Mordtmann (over 3,000 coins, now in the State Historical Museum, Moscow).

The study of Iranian languages in Russia was connected mainly with the development of comparative linguistics (Ovsyannikov-Kulikovskij). The first grammar of Middle Persian was written by K. Zaleman.

In 1904 the site of Old Merv, ancient Sassanian city and fortress, was explored by a joint Russian–American expedition directed by R. Pumpelly. Middle Persian ostraca recovered by the expedition are now in the State Hermitage Museum. In 1909 Ja. I. Smirnov published a complete atlas of Oriental silverware, mostly of Iranian origin.

Back to Index

The Emergence of Persian Grammar and Lexicography in Rome
Angelo Michele Piemontese

After 1584 Rome was the main centre in Italy where Persian manuscripts were collected. Here the scientific study of the Persian language started and was going forward in the seventeenth century.

Giovanni Battista Raimondi, who directed the Medici Oriental Press, prepared the Latin translations of various Persian vocabularies, such as Zamakhshari’s Muqaddimat al-adab, the Lughat-i Ni’matallah, al-Sihah al-‘ajamiyya and Le’ali’s Qavanin-i furs (Rome, 1585–1614). Raimondi’s work focused on Al-Sihah al-‘ajamiyya and Qavanin-i furs, which deal also with Persian grammar. Raimondi aimed at the diffusion of these texts, supplied with the Latin translation, by means of printing. However his plans failed. Neither Persian grammar and vocabulary was ever published.

Carlo Leonelli, whose name as a Carmelite friar was Ignazio del Gesù, put into practice a different approach to the matter. Leonelli studied the Persian language in Isfahan and Shiraz, where he lived as a missionary (1629–41). He produced a Grammatica Linguae Persicae, which was printed (Rome 1661), and a Dictionarium Latino Persicum, which remained unpublished.

Back to Index

Jakov Ivanovich Smirnov – Scholar and Curator
Mikhail Piotrosvky

This paper presents a vivid image of the famous scholar, J.I. Smirnov (1869-1918), who graduated from the University of

St. Petersburg and from 1897 worked in the Imperial Hermitage. His Atlas of Oriental Silver published in 1909 made him world famous. It included almost every piece of ancient and early medieval silverware known at that time.

Back to Index

French Orientalists of the Seventeenth Century and the Discovery of Persian Culture
Francis Richard

Among the seventeenth century French Iranologists of interest is J. F. Petis de la Croix, son of a Secretary-Interpreter of the King and friend of Melchisedec Thevenot, who travelled to Iran after the death of his friend Jean Thevenot, ca. 1670–74 and was in contact in Isfahan with the Capuchine Raphael du Mans. This was at about the same time that the Carmelite Father Ange de Saint Joseph (Labrosse) was also living in Iran for some years. The Carmelite was the translator of a medical treatise and author of a famous dictionary. Petis himself, later Secretary-Interpreter, was the translator of chronicles and other books, a linguist, and at the end of his life a teacher in the College Royal. Both are interesting figures and related to the Parisian milieu of erudite scholars and collectors of Persian texts. It is interesting to note that they were at the same time ‘experts’ in diplomacy for the French King and promoters of modern Persian studies.

Back to Index

Vasilii Vladimirovich Bartold and His Contribution to Iranian Studies
J. Michael Rogers

Vasilii Vladimirovich Bartold (1869–1930) is still a giant figure in the history of Iranian studies. His contribution is so multifarious that it is difficult to describe and evaluate it in a short report. He decided fairly early in his career that he was not cut out to be an archaeologist, but a five-year period as Keeper of the Coin Room of the Asiatic Museum in St. Petersburg implanted in him a respect for the historical importance of inscriptions. This he brilliantly exploited in his study of the Il-Khanid edict on the wall of the mosque of Manuchihr at Ani, a study which contributed substantially to knowledge of the Il-Khanid chancery and fiscal practice, and laid the foundations for the economic history of the Mongols in Persia.

Bartold, in Valdimir Minorsky’s view, was first and foremost a historian, though his achievement would have been impossible without his sound philological training. Few of the essential textual sources were available in printed form, and all presented considerable difficulties of interpretation. Some of these he had time to edit, notably the anonymous tenth-century geographical manual, the Hudud al-Alam, the commentary of which blends classical, mediaeval Islamic and up-to-date European and Russian sources, including Khanyov’s fieldwork in Iran and Vladimir Minorsky’s travels in the service of the Turkish–Iranian border commission. Bartold ascribed great importance to personal acquaintance with the areas on which he worked and benefited markedly from their greater accessibility in the wake of Russian expansion, but his achievement is in large part the result of tireless work in the libraries of Europe and the Near East, the collections of which were still largely uncatalogued.

For Bartold the attraction of Central Asia, on which his interest was particularly focused, lay in its receptivity to outside influences – from China, India and Western Asia – and to the cultures of a series of world religions – Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam. This ‘Central Asia’, though centred on the Turks for so much of its history, was an area in which Eastern Iran (Khorasan, Bactria and Tokharistan) figured very prominently. Symptomatic of this was the paradox he noted that dynasties, like the Ziyarids and the Buyids in Western Iran, which strove to recreate the political traditions of the Sassanian period, contributed the least to the Iranian literary renaissance, which was patronised rather by the Samanids and the Ghaznavids, whose orthodox and loyalty to the Caliphate were in no doubt.

This paper evaluates Bartold’s many original contributions to the history of the Islamicised Iranian world, which he viewed in the context of their earlier history.

Back to Index

The Knowledge of Persia in Venice (c.1450–1797)
Giorgio Rota

This paper addresses the forms and causes of the interest in Persia in the Republic of Venice in the above-mentioned years. Generally speaking, this interest did not involve a scholarly approach to the matter but was rather originated and shaped by political reasons. It has been remarked that, as far as the Ottoman Empire is concerned, Venetians were more interested in the accumulation of information through empirical experience than in theoretical knowledge. The same holds true for Persia which, first in the Aq Qoyunlu and then in the Safavid period, was seen as a potential ally against the Ottomans. It is not by chance that the Venetian travellers who left accounts of Persia in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries were almost all diplomats, nor that the other main body of written information on Persia available to Venetian readers is due to the ambassadors in Constantinople. The Venetian attitude was not without consequences: Persia and the Persians were thus constructed as more ‘civilised’ than the Ottomans, as a political and cultural counterbalance to the ‘barbarous Turk’. Analogously, while the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries saw the first attempts to produce a scholarly literature on the Ottoman world, more peaceful relations with the latter brought about a decrease in Venetian interest in Persia. The paper will take into account and analyse Venetian travel accounts, the descriptions of Persia provided by Venetian ambassadors at the Porte, and the formation of the collection of Persian manuscripts currently at the Biblioteca Marciana, which numbers only 46 items in spite of the relative ease with which such objects could be acquired.

Back to Index

How the West Met the ‘Amazing Images’ of the East: The Development of Collections of Iranian Manuscripts in Europe and America
Eleanor Sims

Iranian manuscripts have been in Western collections, mostly in libraries, from early in the seventeenth century; this paper will examine the history of the formation of such collections. In particular, it will examine the development of our knowledge of Iranian painting, primarily as it is found in illustrated manuscripts but not excluding albums or the single pages extracted from both albums and manuscripts, as they came to be deposited in libraries and other collections in the West in the period of this brief, from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century.

All the centres noted in it – Paris, St. Petersburg and Moscow, the British Isles, the German-speaking lands, the Netherlands, and Italy – will be surveyed; moreover, the beginnings of such collections in America also date from the end of this period and will be briefly touched upon. The processes by which we have arrived at what is known about Iranian painting include: acquisition by purchase, plunder and commission; exposition in words – the compilation of lists and the writing of catalogues, books, monographs, and much more; and exhibitions, both private and public. All have played a role in promulgating knowledge of the art of Iranian painting; all disclose fascinating aspects of the means by which European culture came to learn of the ‘… amazing images and wonderful motifs’ – as the sixteenth-century Iranian calligrapher, Malik Daylami, called the creations of his painter companions in Shah Tahmasp’s kitabkhana but what, in this context, is interpreted more broadly: Iranian book-scale painting from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Back to Index

A. V. Williams Jackson: 1862–1937
Priscilla P. Soucek

Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson was the first Professor of Indo-Iranian Languages at Columbia University, a position he held from 1895 until his retirement in 1935. Professor Jackson’s undergraduate studies at Columbia University (Class of 1883) had focused on Greek and Latin and it was only in his senior year that he began to study Sanskrit. This was followed by Avestan, which he studied at both Columbia University and the University of Halle with Karl F. Geldner. His early publications were focused on Avestan and the Zoroastrian faith. Among the former is his Avestan Grammar in Comparison with Sanskrit of 1892 and his 1899 book Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran. Later in life he focused on Manichaean texts discovered in Central Asia.

His influence on the development of Iranian studies in the United States was not limited to his distinguished career as a scholar of the ancient Iranian language and religion. He made four trips to Iran (1903, 1907, 1910, 1918–19) and published two books about his travels: Persia Past and Present (1906) and From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam (1911). These along with his public lectures stimulated popular interest in Iran. As these books demonstrate, he was also concerned with the literature and culture of Iran under Islam.

His friendship with Alexander Smith Cochran (1875–1929) led the latter to join Jackson on his 1907 trip to Iran and to form a collection of Persian manuscripts which Cochran subsequently donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cochran, who had inherited ‘vast fortunes’ (NY Times, 21 June 1929), was noted for his skill as a sailor and his generous philanthropy but not his connoisseurship of Persian manuscripts. It is probable that Jackson was the inspiration behind the formation of this collection, of which he published a scholarly catalogue in 1913. His interest in Iranian art also led to his being named Honorary President of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology.

Back to Index

Three Centuries of Persian Studies in St. Petersburg
Ivan Steblin-Kamensky

The scholarly study of the East, like all scholarship in Russia, came into being in St. Petersburg in the reign of Peter the Great. Persian is first mentioned in an Imperial decree dated 5 January 1700 to the Ambassadorial Office (Posol’sky Prikaz) ordering the translation of ‘dispatches in the Persian language’. The Office replied that they were unable to do so but, as V.A. Krachkovsky observed, the interpreters had correctly identified the language in which the documents were written. In 1716 students of the Latin schools founded by Peter the Great were sent to Persia with the embassy of Artemii Volynsky to learn the language. And from 1720 began the collection of Eastern coins and Oriental manuscripts in Peter’s Kunstkammer.

In St. Petersburg itself Persian was also heard first in the reign of Peter the Great when the first elephant, a gift of the Safavid ruler, Shah Sultan Husayn, arrived there, together with its keepers. Under the Empress Anna there was built an elephant-house on the Fontanka canal and a caravansary, which gave their names to Karavannaya Street and Slonovaya Street, the latter the present-day Suvorovsky Prospekt.

Material on Iranian languages gradually accumulated and was published in comparative vocabularies. In 1732 Persian began to be taught at the College of Foreign Languages. In the later eighteenth century scholarly expeditions to collect linguistic material were dispatched to the Caucasus and Central Asia. In P.S. Pallas’s dictionary published in 1787 are given word lists in Persian, Kurdish, Afghan and Ossetian.

The teaching of Oriental languages was introduced into the first general Regulations for Russian Universities issued on 5 November 1804. The teachers of Arabic and Persian, who had been invited from France began their courses at the Imperial University in St. Petersburg in March 1818. In the same year an Asiatic Museum was created in the Kunstkammer of the Academy of Sciences, and these two centers determined the development of Russian Oriental studies, Persian included. Ten years later, by the late 1820s, there were no fewer than four centers of Oriental studies in St. Petersburg: the Oriental Department of the University, the section for the teaching of Oriental studies in the Foreign Ministry, the Asiatic Museum, and the Imperial Public Library, with its collections of Oriental manuscripts, many of which were Persian. The faculty of Oriental Languages in the University of St. Petersburg, comprising nine chairs, one of which was a chair of Persian literature headed by the first dean of the Faculty, A.K. Kazembek, was formally inaugurated on 27 August 1855.

In the activities of the faculty the original contrast of purely practical exercises and the interests of scholarship gradually gave way to a mutual complementarity of the Asiatic Museum, Faculty, Library and other scholarly institutions. They became steadily closer to one another, allowing one to think of St. Petersburg as a single centre of Russian Oriental scholarship. The very same scholars who directed Cabinets in the Academy of Sciences also held chairs in the University. Academician B.A. Dorn was the first scholar in the world to introduce the study of the Afghan language. His colleague in the Imperial Public Library, K.A. Kossovich, gave courses in Avestan and Old Persian. Subsequently, the basic lines of the development of Iranian studies were determined by the pedagogic activities of K.G. Zaleman, V.A. Zhukovsky and their pupil A.A. Freiman, who organised the Chair of Iranian philology between 1916 and 1950. From 1951 to 1981 the chair was held by A.N. Boldyrëv and then by Academician M.N. Bogolyubov.

The Iranicists of the Oriental Faculty, the various institutes of the Academy of Sciences, the Hermitage and other museums and libraries in St. Petersburg comprise linguists and specialists in literature, philology and ethnography, archaeologists and historians who have all worked in close cooperation with one another, participating in both teaching and research, meeting in joint seminars, collaborating in expeditions and have thus created a remarkable center of Iranian studies of international importance.

Back to Index

Iranian History and Orientalist Historiography
Mohammad Tavakoli-Targhi

This paper explores the narratives of Iranian history and culture from John Malcolm’s The History of Persia (1815) to Edward Brown’s A Literary History of Persia (1902-1924). In explaining these and other nineteenth-century scholars’ contribution to the historical conceptualization of Iran, the paper will ground their scholarship in the larger field of historical studies and the development of the concept of universal history in Europe. It is within this development that Iranian history found its distinctively regressive mode of emplotment. For instance, John Malcolm (1769–1833) observed: ‘Though no country has undergone, during the last twenty centuries, more revolutions than the kingdom of Persia, there is, perhaps, none that is less altered in its condition.’ In a more concise statement, Hegel (1770–1831) similarly asserted that, ‘The Persians … retained on the whole the fundamental characteristics of their ancient mode of life.’

This de-historicising assumption – that is, the contemporaneity of an early nineteenth-century ‘mode of life’ with that of ancient times – informed both Orientalist and nationalist historiographies that constituted the heightened period of European colonialism as the true beginning of rationality and historical progress in Iran. Whereas a progressive conception of time informed the modern European historiography from the late eighteenth century to the present, the historical accounts of Iran, like that of other non-Western societies, were unanimously based in a regressive conception of history. Within this larger frame, the paper will explain how diverse European scholars of Iran produced similar narratives of Iranian history and culture.

Back to Index

Persian Classics in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Culture or Propaganda?
Beatrice Teissier

This paper will look at the corpus of Persian classics collected as manuscripts and found in grammars and translations in Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century, and the efforts made by Orientalists such as James Fraser, William Jones and John Richardson to communicate their value to scholars and to the general public. Communications and publications from the Asiatic Society of Calcutta and some works from Mughal India will also be examined. Discrepancies arising between the need to promote the study of Persian as a practical necessity for those wanting to have a career in the East India Company, and the wish to convey notions of Persian culture will be examined. The selection of themes of heroism and morality found in Persian classics because they found a resonance in an increasingly autocratic late eighteenth-century Britain will also be looked at. The extent to which this approach influenced perceptions of Persia and contributed to an accurate knowledge of Persian culture will be appraised.

Back to Index

Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies: The History of the Collection and Some Samples
Sergei Tourkin

The manuscript collection of the Institute of Oriental Studies in St. Petersburg comprises more than 3,000 Persian manuscripts. This is the largest collection of Persian manuscripts in Russia and one of the most noteworthy collections in the world. The compositions included in the manuscripts preserved in the collection give a marvellously full picture of the literary heritage of Iran and of the repertoire of the mediaeval Persian handwritten book.

This paper will give a historical survey of the forming of the collection. The main stages of acquisition, description and cataloguing will be mentioned. Special notice will be made of certain scientific, mainly astronomical and astrological, manuscripts which deserve attention due to being rare or unique, their date of copying or some other attribute.

Separately, the question will be tackled of what kind of interconnection and interaction can exist between the main criteria that define a manuscript, transcribed in Arabic script, as Persian, Arabic, Turkish, etc., depending on the region of origin and manufacture of the manuscript and the original language of the compositions it contains.

Back to Index

The Study of Iranian Culture at Kazan in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Ramil Mirgasim Valeev and Alsu A. Arslanova

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the development of classical Iranian studies in Russia was concentrated on the study of Iranian languages, classical Persian literature and Iranian material culture.

In the history of the peoples of the Volga delta and the Western Urals, Iranian studies at Kazan, particularly in the University, also had their part to play. Their achievement was concentrated on historical and philological studies.

In Kazan University Persian teaching was in the hands of Professor Kh. M. Fraehn and his pupil Ya. O. Yartsov, both specialists in Persian literature. In subsequent decades the curriculum included lectures on the political history of Persia, the history of Persian literature, including popular literature, folklore and dialectology, and Oriental numismatics, accompanied by an active publication programme of scholarly works on many aspects of Persian history and culture.

The nineteenth century also saw the creation of a collection of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts, acquired on the spot, together with manuscripts acquired by Professor I. N. Berezin on his field trips in Transcaucasia, Iran, Syria and Egypt. The first catalogue of these (by I. F. Gottwald) was published in 1854.

Developments in the later nineteenth century included the creation of an Oriental Society (1855) and the Kazan University Archaeological, Historical and Ethnographic Society (1878). With the establishment of new educational institutions upon the coming of the Soviets to power, Persian studies were a prominent feature of the North-Western Archaeological and Ethnographical Institute (1917–21), which in 1922 became the Oriental Academy.

Back to Index

Persian Manuscripts in the Russian National Library: The Khanykov, Simonich and Dolgoruky Collections
Olga Vasilieva

The Russian National Library contains three notable collections of Persian manuscripts put together by Russian diplomats

during their time en poste in Iran: the Khanykov, Simonich and Dolgoruky collections.

Count Ivan Osipovich Simonich (1793–1851), the Colonel-in-Chief of the Georgian Grenadiers (and subsequently Governor-General, of the Aleksandrov fortress in Warsaw), was from 1832 to 1838 Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Persian court, where, with one of his sons, Nikolai Ivanovich, he put together an important collection of manuscripts, many of them gifts from the Qajar royal family. His son inherited the collection and a substantial part of it subsequently entered the Imperial Public Library.

Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich Dolgoruky, who from 1845 to 1854 was Minister Plenipotentiary at the Persian court, also acquired a notable collection during his time at Tehran. Of 99 manuscripts, 90 of them are Persian and more than half are historical in theme, reflecting Dolgoruky’s interest in Persian history. The oldest dated manuscripts of the collection are a Tarikh-i Tabari and Juvayni’s Tarikh-i Jahangusha, both copied in the scriptorium of Baysunqur in 833–34/1430, while the poetical works include a Khamsa of Nizami with 24 miniatures, dated 896/1491. In 1858, by order of Tsar Alexander II, the Dolgoruky Collection was purchased for the Imperial Public Library.

Nikolai Vasil’yevich Khanykov, the Iranologist and diplomat, was from 1853 to 1857 Russian Consul General in Tabriz. His manuscript collection reflects his many-sided interests in Persian and Islamic culture, many works having been specially copied for him. Older works, however, included a Tadhkirat al-Awliya of Farid al-Din ‘Attar and a Zafarname of Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi, both of the fifteenth century. Khanykov spent his last years in Paris. His collection, comprising 166 manuscripts, of which 120 were Persian, was sold to the Imperial Public Library in 1864. 

Back to Index


Copyright © 2004 Iran Heritage Foundation. All rights reserved.
Charity Number 1001785.