EBERMAN, VASILIĬ ALEKSANDROVICH (b. St. Petersburg, 1899, d. Orel, 1937), scholar of early Persian poets writing in Arabic. Born in the family of a surgeon of German origin, Eberman studied Arabic and Persian in 1917-21 at the Department of Oriental Languages at the University of Petrograd. As a researcher he was active only from 1919 to 1930, working at the Asiatic Museum of the Academy of Sciences (researcher, first rank, 1919-20) and the State Academy of the History of Material Culture (researcher, second rank, 1920-30). In 1924-29 he taught Arabic at Leningrad University (docent, 1925-29). In June 1930 he was charged with counterrevolutionary activities and sent to the Solovkilabor camp, whence he was moved to Belbaltlag labor camp. Having learned geology at the new labor camp, he worked as a geologist. He was discharged ahead of schedule in July 1933 for having performed, in his own words, “shock work.” He resumed teaching as a docent at the Leningrad Institute for the History of Philosophy and Linguistics, but was dismissed on 15 January 1934, arrested again, and sent on 7 March 1934 to Sevvost (northeastern) labor camp in Magadan (“Response of the Federal Service of Counterintelligence,” St. Petersburg, to the Institute of Oriental Studies, dated 29 April 1994; no. 10/16-11449). In 1936 he returned from the labor camp and settled in Orel, where it was impossible to continue his research. He drowned while swimming in 1937.

Eberman’s earliest article was a study of Oriental topics in Russian poetry (1923), but his chief interest was the contribution of non-Arabs, primarily Persians, to early Islamic culture and Arabic literature. His first major article dealt with the Jondīšāpūr school of medicine (1925). In his “Persians among the Arabic poets of the Umayyad era” (1929, pp. 113-54) he argued that Persians “created a poetical literature important even on a world scale” (p. 114). Finding no evidence that Sasanian poetry had survived into Islamic times, he held that the beginnings of New Persian poetry “are to be sought in Arabic, in the poetry of the first century of ʿAbbasid rule (p. 115, n. 3) This article investigates the preceding period and discusses all available information concerning the earliest Arabic poets of Persian extraction: Ważżāḥ, Ḵorra, Ḵosrow, Ebn Mofarreḡ, Mūsā Šahawāt, Abu’l-ʿAbbās, and Esmāʿīl b. Yasār. Eberman continued this line of research with a study of Ḵoraymī (3rd/9th century; 1930b). He also catalogued a small collection of Persian manuscripts (1927b) and published in German an excellent survey of Arabic studies in Russia in 1914-27 (1927a, 1930a).



Eberman’s works relating to Persia are as follows: V. Eberman, “Arabi i persi v russkoĭ poezii” (Arabs and Persians in Russian poetry), Vostok, zhurnal literaturi, nauki i iskusstva 3, 1923, pp. 108-25.

Idem, “Meditsinskaya shkola v Jundishapure” (The medical school of Jondīšāpūr), Zapiski Kollegii Vostokovedov pri Aziatskom muzee Akademii nauk SSSR 1, 1925, pp. 47-72.

Idem, “Opisanie sobraniya arabskikh rukopiseĭ, pozh-ertvo-vannykh v Aziatskiĭ Muzeĭ v 1926 g. Polnomochnym Predstavitel’stvom SSSR v Persii” (Description of the collection of Arabic manuscripts donated to the Asiatic Museum in 1926 by the plenipotentiary representative of the USSR in Persia), Izvestiya Akademii Nauk, 6th ser., 21, 1927b, pp. 315-24.

Idem, “Persi sredi arabskikh poetov epokhi Omeĭyadov” (Persians among the Arabic poets of the Umayyad era), Zapiski Kollegii Vostokovedov pri Aziatskom Muzee Akademii Nauk SSSR 2, 1929, pp. 113-54.

An autobiography of Eberman and a memoir of him by I. Y. Kratchkovskiĭ, kept in the Central State Archives of St. Petersburg (fund no. 328, list 2, no. 1920), were made available by Ya. V. Vasil’kov.

(Anas B. Khalidov)

Originally Published: December 15, 1996

Last Updated: December 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, p. 655