DORN, JOHANNES ALBRECHT BERNHARD (Boris Andreevich; b. Scheierfeld, Saxe-Coburg, Germany, 29 April 1805, d. St. Petersburg, 19 May 1881; Figure 1), pioneer in many areas of Iranian studies in Russia. Dorn studied philology and theology at the universities of Halle and Leipzig, learning Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, Turkish, Pashto, Sanskrit, and Ethiopian. In 1825 he received a doctorate in theology and philosophy from Leipzig and was appointed lecturer in oriental languages. The next year C. M. Fraehn, director of the Asiatic Museum of the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, recommended that Dorn be appointed to the newly established department of oriental languages at the University of Kharkov. The formalities took almost two years, during which time Dorn traveled in western Europe.

From 1829 through 1835 he taught in Kharkov; in the latter year he moved to St. Petersburg, where he taught the history and geography of the Muslim east in the Asiatic department of the Russian Ministry of foreign affairs (until 1843); from 1838 to 1842 he also taught Sanskrit at the University of St. Petersburg and in 1855-57 Pashto, the first such course taught in Europe (Kulikova, 1975; idem, 1982). In 1839 he began a long career at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences, reaching the level of academician in 1852. From 1842 he was also director of the Asiatic Museum and head of the oriental section of the Imperial public library.

Despite his administrative obligations, Dorn published indefatigably in Iranian studies. His broad conception of the field, particularly his insistence that grasping the meaning of historical events depends on knowledge of the geography, languages, and life of a people, was apparent in his active collecting of oriental manuscripts, documents, books, coins, and artifacts. For almost fifty years he guided Russian scientists and travelers in their gathering of eastern materials and acquired a number of private collections for the Asiatic Museum: During his tenure the total of Persian manuscripts tripled, and collections of Pashto and Kurdish manuscripts were begun. Dorn gradually turned the museum into an academic research institution, now the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. At the same time he introduced the newly acquired manuscripts, especially those in Iranian languages, to the scientific world through a series of publications extending from 1827 to 1881.

One main focus of his work was on concise annotated lists and catalogues (Akimushkin and Borshevskiĭ). He undertook catalogues of oriental manuscripts (Catalogue des manuscrits et xylo-graphes orientaux de la Bibliothèque Impériale publique de St. Pétersbourg, St. Petersburg, 1852) and printed books (“Catalogue des ouvrages arabes, persanes et turcs, publiés à Constantinople, en Égypte et en Perse, qui se trouvent au Musée Asiatique de l’Académie,” Bulletin de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg [Bulletin . . .] 10, 1866, cols. 168-213; “Chronologisches Verzeichniss der seit dem Jahre 1801 bis 1866 in Kazan gedruckten arabischen, türkischen, tatarischen und persischen Werke,” Bulletin . . . 11, 1867, cols. 305-85). He also published more than thirty articles on Sasanian and Islamic numismatics (Livotova and Portugal, pp. 54-56).

Dorn was particularly interested in the Pashtuns and published annotated editions and translations of texts on tribal history (e.g., Die Geschichte Tabaristans und der Serbedare nach Chondemir, ed. and tr., St. Petersburg, 1850, esp. p. 4; Neʿmat-Allāh Heravī, Maḵzan-e afḡānī [1021/1613], ed. and tr. as The History of the Afghans, 2 vols., London, 1829-36; cf. Storey, I, pp. 393-95; Miklukho-Maklaĭ, pp. 346-48). He also compiled what at the time was the most complete available list of 254 Pashtun tribes, as well as the history and traditions of the Dor(r)ānī, Ḡelzī, Lōdī, and other confederations (“Verzeichniss afghanischer Stämme,” Bulletiŋ3/17, 1838, cols. 257-66; “Beitrag zur Geschichte des afghanischen Stammes der Jusufsey,” Bulletiŋ4/1, 1838, cols. 23-31; “Über eine sechste von mir benützte Handschrift von Ni’metullahs Geschichte der Afghanen,” Bulletiŋ 9/13-14, 1842, cols. 217-19; “Über die ursprüngliche und richtige Schreib-ung einiger afghanischen Benennungen,” Bulletiŋ10/5, 1842, cols. 60-73; “Zur Geschichte des af-ghanischen Emires Chandschehan Lodi, nach Ni’met-Ullah,” Mémoires de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg [Mémoires . . .], ser. 6 no. 7, 1847, pp. 373-400). Although some of his conclusions have since been disproved, his works remain valuable.

Dorn never visited Afghanistan, but he nevertheless established the scientific basis for Afghan studies, particularly the first systematic description of Pashto (“Nachträge zur Grammatik der afghanischen Sprache,” Bulletiŋ10/23, 1842, cols. 356-68; “Grammatische Bemerkungen über das Puschtu, oder die Sprache der Afghanen,” Mémoires . . ., 6 ser. no. 5, 1845, pp. 1-163; “Zusätze zu den grammatischen Bemerkungen über das Puschtu,” Mémoires . . ., 6 ser. no. 5, 1845, pp. 435-87; “Auszüge aus afghanischen Schriftstellern,” Mémoires . . ., ser. 6 no. 5, 1845, pp. 581-643). In 1847 he published the first anthology of Pashto literature (A Chrestomathy of the Pushtū or Afghan Language, ed., St. Petersburg, 1847), with excerpts from historical texts and poetry, accompanied by commentary and a Pashto-English glossary; it was used for many years as a textbook at the University of St. Petersburg.

Dorn also extended his comprehensive approach to study of the Caspian region, compiling information on the history and historical geography of Gīlān, Māzandarān, Ṭabarestān, Šīrvān, and neighboring regions. A group of Persian manuscripts accompanied by commentaries and partial translations was published mainly in two series, Beiträge zur Geschichte der kaukasischen Länder und Völker aus morgenländischen Quellen (1840-48) and Muham-medanische Quellen zur Geschichte der südlichen Küstenländer des Kaspischen Meers (1850-58), as well as in several separate books and articles (“Auszüge aus zwei morgenländischen Schrift-stellern, betreffend das Kaspische Meere und angrenzende Länder,” Bulletiŋ16, 1871, cols. 15-41; “Morgenländische Benennungen der Fahr-zeuge auf dem Kaspischen Meere und angrenzende Länder,” Bulletiŋ16, 1871, cols. 15-45; “Auszüge aus vierzehn morgenländischen Schriftstellern, betreffend das Kaspische Meer und angrenzende Länder” Bulletiŋ17, 1872, cols. 466-94; 18, 1873, cols. 299-320; 19, 1874, cols. 198-215, 292-320; Kaspii. O pokhodakh drevnikh russkikh v Tabaristan . . . [The Caspian. On early Russian expeditions in Ṭabarestān . . .], St. Petersburg, 1875). Dorn collected linguistic material during an expedition to the Caucasus and the southern shore of the Caspian Sea in 1860-61 (“Bericht über eine wissenschaftliche Reise in dem Kaukasus und den südlichen Kustenländern des Kaspischen Meeres,” Bulletiŋ4, 1862, cols. 344-93). The results were published jointly with Mirza Muhammad Schafy in the series Beiträge zur Kenntniss der iranischen Sprachen (1860-66), which included Masan-deranische Sprache (I-II/1, 3, St. Petersburg, 1860-66) and surveys of Gīlakī, Tatī, and Ṭālešī, as well as verse by Amir Pāzvārī Māzandarānī (Akimushkin et al., nos. 1375-77). Dorn himself published only a small part of this material; the remainder has served as a prime source for compilation of the appropriate section in the Grundriss der iranischen Philologie (Grundriss I/2, pp. 344-80; Aziatskiĭ Muzeĭ, pp. 306-07).



(For cited works not found in this bibliography, see “Short References.”) O. F. Akimushkin and Yu. E. Borshevskiĭ, “Materialy dlya bibliografii rabot o persidskih rukopisyakh” (Materials for a bibliography of works on Persian manuscripts), Narody Azii i Afriki, 1963/3, pp. 165-72; 1963/6, pp. 228-41.

O. F. Akimushkin et al., Persidskie i tadzhikskie rukopisi Instituta Narodov Azii AN SSSR I, Moscow, 1964.

Aziatskiĭ Muzeĭ—Leningradskoe otdelenie Instituta vos-tokovedeniya AN SSSR (The Asiatic Museum—The Leningrad branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies), Moscow, 1972.

“B. A. Dorn,” Zapiski Imperatorskoĭ Akademii nauk 40/2, 1882, pp. 44-45.

“B. A. Dorn,” file 776, Trudy Arkhiva AN SSSR 16 (Moscow and Leningrad), 1959, pp. 252-54.

Istoriya otechestvennogo vostokovedeniya do serediny XIX veka (History of national oriental studies up to the mid-19th century), Moscow, 1990.

G. Dugat, Histoire des orientalistes de l’Europe du XIIe au XIXe siècle I, Paris, 1868 (for a bibliography of Dorn’s publications up to that time, see pp. 72-99).

V. V. Grigoriev, “B. A. Dorn,” Novoye vremya 1878, 1881, p. 3; 1924, 1881, p. 3.

I. Yu. Krachkovskii, Ocherki po istorii russkoi arabistiki (Survey of the history of Russian Arabic studies), Moscow and Leningrad, 1950, pp. 75-76, 123-25.

A. M. Kulikova, “B. A. Dorn i universitetskoe vostokovedenie v Rossii” (B. A. Dorn and university oriental studies in Russia), Narody Azii i Afriki 2, 1975, pp. 220-28.

Idem, Stanovlenie univer-sitetskogo vostokovedeniya v Peterburge (Emergence of university oriental studies in St. Petersburg), Moscow, 1982.

Idem, Vostokovedenie v rossiiskikh zakonodatelnykh aktakh (konets XVII v.-1917 g.) (Russian legislative acts concerning oriental studies [End of the 17th century to 1917]), St. Petersburg, 1994.

O. E. Livotova and V. B. Portugal, Vostokovedenie v izdaniyakh Akademii nauk. 1726-1917. Bibliografiya (Oriental studies in publications of the Academiya Nauk. 1726-1917. Bibliography), Moscow, 1966, pp. 54-62.

V. A. Livshits and I. M. Oranskii, “Izuchenie afganskogo yazyka (pashto) v otechestvennoĭ nauke” (The study of the Afghan language [Pashto] in national scholarship), in Ocherki po istorii izucheniya iranskikh yazykov (Survey of the history of the study of Iranian languages), Moscow, 1962, pp. 69-73.

N. D. Miklukho-Maklaĭ, Opisanie persidskih i tadzhikskih rukopiseĭ Instituta vostokovedeniya III. Istoricheskie sochineniya (Description of the Persian and Tajik manuscripts in the Institute of Oriental Studies III. Historical texts), Moscow, 1975.

V. A. Romodin, “Iz istorii izucheniya afgantsev i Afganistana v Rossii” (From the history of the study of Afghans and Afghanistan in Russia), in Ocherki po istorii russkogo vostokovedeniya (Survey of the history of Russian oriental studies) I, Moscow, 1953, pp. 155-58.

V. S. Sokolova and A. L. Gryunberg, “Istoriya izucheniya bespis’mennykh iranskikh yazykov” (History of the study of Iranian languages that lack writing), in Ocherki po istorii izucheniya iranskikh yazykov (Survey of the history of the study of Iranian languages), Moscow, 1962, pp. 135-37.

(N. L. Luzhetskaya)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 5, pp. 511-513