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Structure of the IOM — The Archives of the Orientalists Print E-mail

— The Archives of the Orientalists —

The Archives of the Orientalists at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts maintains a rich collection of papers left by former generations of Russian scholars who studied every possible Orientalist discipline. Many unique papers on history, culture, languages of hundreds of peoples are arranged into one hundred and fifty sets of records. The Archive contains a large number of unpublished monographs (both drafts and completed works), short academic papers, notes, excerpts, synopses, lists, vocabularies, maps, theses, accounts of conferences and sessions of academic societies. It also includes a many official documents such as protocol statements, prescripts and decisions. Epistolary heritage and the collection of photos are also sufficiently extensive.

It is generally accepted that the Archives of the Orientalists was established in 1818 with the foundation of the Asiatic Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences. By that time, Russia already boasted a collection of archival papers connected the study of Eastern cultures. Among the first items given to the Archive of Oriental Studies were documents from the Konferenz Archive and the Academy’s Library, manuscripts belonging to G.J. Kehr, a well-known Turkologist, Prof. T.S. Beyer, a researcher into Greek and Roman antiquities, and D.K. Kantemir, a diplomat who wrote a history of the Ottoman Empire.

In addition, Ch.M. Frähn, the first director of the Asiatic Museum, scrutinised papers of the so-called “physical” expeditions sent by the Academy to Asia, and selected a number of interesting documents. This replenished the Archive with a number of accounts by D.G. Messerschmidt, G.F. Miller, P.P. Pallas and I.E. Fisher, who explored Siberia. One hundred years later, all the documents that once served as the basis of the Archive of the Asiatic Museum were passed to the Archive of the Academy of Sciences.

The Archives of the Orientalists acquired new materials in different ways. They were partly purchased. For example, P.L. Schilling von Kanstadt, a passionate collector of Oriental manuscripts, bought letters by Catholic missionaries to China, such as Perreira, Gobil, Parrenine, from a Berlin antiquary; papers of I. Jerig were purchased at the auction organised by heirs of the traveller, Sinologist and Manchurist G.J. Klaproth. D.K. Kantemir’s manuscripts made the long journey from Saint Petersburg, through Constantinople and London, to Paris and then returned to Russia again to be passed to the Asiatic Museum. Some other materials were granted.

The archival collection was later added to with papers belonging to the old Orientalists who had been affiliated with the then Asiatic Museum (later the Institute of Oriental Studies and then the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts) and sometimes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Saint-Petersburg/Leningrad University. First of all, the personal collections of Ch. Frähn and B. Dorn were acquired, then those of the Turkologist I.N. Berezin, the historian and numismatist W.G. Tisengausen and the Arabist W. Rosen. Many materials were donated by the Russian Committee for the Exploration of Central and Eastern Asia. The Committee was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hence its strong material background and capacity to organise a number of expeditions to Turkestan, Siberia, the Far East, Central Asia and the Near East, which allowed valuable data to be gathered on local politics and history, as well as unique archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic data. Collections acquired from the expeditions were so extensive that a special Inventory of Tributes from the Russian Committee was produced. This covered the items acquired from T. Zhamtsarano, B. Baradiyn, B.J. Vladimirtsov, N. Ochirov, A.V. Burdukov —documents and artefacts that proved highly significant for the study of various Turkic and Mongolian peoples. In recent decades, the Archive has been further extended with the personal collections of many bright scholars such as the Mongolists P.V. Pogorelsky, B.I. Pankratov, N.P. Shastina, A.V. Burdukov, the Indologists V.S. Vorobyov-Desyatovsky and A.E. Snesarev, the Iranist A.A. Starikov, the historian of Arab countries A.F. Iskanderov and many others.

Maintaining the Archives has always proven a difficult undertaking. It required both the numbering and brief description of all items. K.G. Zalemann was the first to scrutinise and catalogue the acquired archives.

Until 1918, the collections kept at the Asiatic Museum were divided into the following five sections: 1. the Academic library; 2. Oriental manuscripts and xylographs; 3. handwritten (and mostly unpublished) papers, notes, plans, etc. in European languages; 4. coins and medals; 5. antiquities, talismans, seals and other curiosities and rarities. In 1918, the third section was reorganisd into the so-called Eastern (or Asiatic) Archives. The Archives was revised with the appointment of S.F. Oldenburg as Head of the Asiatic Museum. Leading scholars such as V.M. Alexeev, V.V. Bartold, I.J. Krachkovsky were asked to take part in the revision. S.F. Oldenburg personally contributed much to the processing and systematisation of the archives. The work was even more difficult since numerous newly acquired items (20,000 from 1917-1927) also had to be checked. Sometimes entire collections had been maintained under the same number, so scholars had to be extremely careful. At that time, the Archives was divided into five major sections: the old collection (items from 1640-1840), new collection (1840-1930), collection of special documents (1850-1912), unprocessed collection (1880-1910), archives of academic activities. During 1933-1937, the Asiatic Archives was maintained as part of the Department of Manuscripts. However, in 1937 it was reorganised as an independent department of the Institute of Oriental Studies. In the same year it was given its current name — the Archive of Oriental Studies.

In 1937, five scholars from the Institute of Russian Literature, headed by L.B. Modzalevsky, moved to the Institute of Oriental Studies and began processing the Archive of Oriental Studies. They divided it into 52 personal files and 3 groups of thematic collections. They organised inventories to fix data on all new items, compiled descriptions of personal funds and thematic groups, developed necessary application forms, etc. They planned to complete the work by 1943, but this was made impossible by the Second World War. The work was started again in 1956. Five fellows were hired to the Archive, and the Institute’s authorities established the special Archives Council. Moreover, The Bulletin of the Archives of the Orientalists was issued periodically. The fellows began to compile the so-called guides through the funds of the Archives of the Orientalists .

At the moment, the Archives of the Orientalists contains more than 100 personal funds. During 1949-1953, all personal collections of academicians and corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences such as those of I.J. Schmidt, V.V. Bartold, T.I. Stcherbatsky, V.V. Struwe, B.J. Vladimirtsov, A.N. Samoilovich, V.R. Rosen, V.V. Radlov and I.A. Orbeli were passed to the Leningrad Branch of the Archives of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (now the St Petersburg Branch of the Archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences). Papers connected with their academic activities at the Institute were left behind. Among the most valuable items kept at the Archives of the Orientalists are 150 dictionaries (in 2, 3 or 4 languages), from rough drafts to completed works. The Archives also contains a number of thematic collections: China, Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet, Japan and Korea, India and Indonesia, Iran and Afghanistan, Turkey, Arab countries, Polyglotta (consisting of both bilingual texts and glossaries), Palestine, Africa, Buryatia and Kalmykia, Peoples of Caucasus and Transcaucasia, Peoples of Siberia, Turkic Peoples, Finno-Ugric peoples, Peoples of Central Asia, the Kazakhs, Collections of governmental institutions, Collection of the Russian Palestinian Society, Archives of the Orthodox Mission in Peking, Publishing Portfolio, Collection of dissertations, Photo Archive. Since the beginning of the 1960s, the following fellows have been involved: L.I. Chuguevsky, N.D. Putintseva, T.P. Goreglyad, K.A. Boiko, D.E. Bertels, A.M. Kulikova, T.A. Patrusheva, M.N. Kulis, O.S. Grigoryeva, K.V. Dubkov, V.S. Fedorov, T.E. Sivolap, M.I. Isinalieva.

More than 500 papers have been published on the Archives of the Orientalists . The most important ones were published by A.M. Kulikova, I.I. Iorish, D.E. Bertels, G.M. Bongard-Levin, E.N. Tyomkin, M.P. Volkova, L.V. Dmitrieva, L.L. Gromkovskaya, A.N. Kononov, S.A. Kozin, I.J. Krachkovsky, I.V. Kulganek, B.V. Lunin, L.N. Menshikov, N.D. Putintseva, P.E. Skachkov, N.N. Tumanovich, L.I. Chuguevsky, A.N. Khokhlov, R.Sh. Sharafutdinova, N.P. Shastina.

A lot of archival papers have yet to be explored.

Dr L.I. Chuguevsky (†), N.D. Putintseva, Dr I.V. Kulganek

(Translated by A.Zorin; proofread by J.Young)


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