TUMANSKIǏ, Aleksandr Grigor’evich


TUMANSKIǏ (Toumansky), Aleksandr Grigor’evich (b. 23 September 1861; d. Istanbul, 1 December 1920), Russian orientalist, Major-General of the Russian Imperial Army. Tumanskiǐ belonged to an ancient aristocratic family which had originated from the Great Duchy of Lithuania. He spoke eleven languages and, besides serving in the Russian Imperial Guards, he was several times sent to the East with diplomatic missions. Tumanskiǐ received his Oriental education in 1888-91 at the Officers’ Courses of Oriental Languages organized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He studied Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. In the words of the famous Russian Orientalist I.Yu.Krachkovskiǐ (1883-1951), “Tumanskiǐ was one of the rare—in Russia—Orientalists by vocation and not by profession” (Krachkovskiǐ, p. 112). In 1891-95 Tumanskiǐ stayed in Central Asia. In 1894 he made a trip to southern Persia with the purpose of carrying out reconnaissance of routes that lead from the Russian-Persian frontier to the Persian Gulf. In 1900-05 Tumanskiǐ served as Russian vice-consul in Van, Turkey. In 1908 and 1909 he was sent to Persia again. In 1911 he was appointed the head of the officers’ preparatory school of Oriental languages in Tiflis (Tbilisi), which functioned under the Headquarters of the Caucasian Military Command. Tumanskiǐ retired from the military service in March 1917 in the rank of Major-General (Baskhanov, pp. 242-43). He left Russia after the October Revolution in 1917 and died in Istanbul on 1 December 1920 (Ḥudüd al-ʿālam, p. xliv).

Tumanskiǐ was friendly with the Bahais (see BAHAI FAITH), whom he first met in Ashgabat in 1890. He maintained close relationship with the Bahais in Central Asia and Transcaucasia, and he studied and translated Bahai works and literature. The most important publication of Tumanskiǐ in the field of Bahai studies was his translation (1899) of the Ketāb-e aqdas by Bahāʾ-Allāh (1817-92). Besides the Russian translation, the publication also contains the Arabic original and an introduction on 48 pages. An earlier publication of Tumanskiǐ (1892) deals with Bahāʾ-Allāh’s other work, Ketāb-e ʿahd. In his studies in the field, Tumanskiǐ corresponded with E. G. Browne (1862-1926). He offered significant assistance to the Bahai community in Russia, especially when the first Bahai temple was being constructed in Ashgabat (Ḥudüd al-ʿālam, pp. xlii-xliii). Tumanskiǐ translated into Russian the work Šajara-ye Tarākema (‘Genealogical Tree of the Turkmen’) of Abu’l-Ḡāzi Bahādor Khan of Khiva (1603-63). This translation was published in Ashgabat in 1897. Being a military man, he wrote a book entitled Military Art of the Ancient Arabs (1897).

Possibly under the influence of either Viktor Rozen (1849-1908) or Vasiliǐ Bartol’d (1869-1930, see BARTHOLD), Tumanskiǐ became interested in the lost work of Ulugh-beg (Oloḡ-beg, 1394-1449) entitled Olus-e arbaʿa. In the process of searching for this work, during his stay in Bukhara in 1893, Tumanskiǐ was presented an ancient manuscript by a friend of his, Mirzā Moḥammad Abu’l-Fażl Golpāyegāni (1844-1914, see ABU’L-FAŻL [OR Abu’l-Fażāʾel] GOLPĀYEGĀNI, MIRZĀ MOḤAMMAD). The manuscript turned out to contain four works, among them a unique Persian geographical composition entitled Ḥodud al-ʿālam (‘Regions of the World’) composed in 372/982. Abu’l-Fażl Golpāyegāni presented the manuscript to Tumanskiǐ “on condition that it should be edited and not be lost for science” (Ḥudüd al-ʿālam, pp. xli-xliii).

Being busy with other things, Tumanskiǐ did not manage to prepare (or at least to publish) the translation of the entire Ḥodud al-ʿālam, even though his translations of the passages on Samarqand and on the Borṭās-Barāḏās came out in 1893 and 1914 (Ḥudüd al-ʿālam, pp. xliii-xliv, n. 3). After the October Revolution of 1917, the manuscript traveled together with Tumanskiǐ to Constantinople/Istanbul, and after his death on 1 December 1920 his widow arranged, via the mediation of Vladimir Minorsky (1877-1966), that the manuscript was returned to Leningrad (since that time, the manuscript has been preserved at the Institute of Oriental Studies in St.Petersburg), mainly due to the fact that quite some work for the facsimile edition of it had been done already. The facsimile appeared in 1930; it bears Tumanskiǐ’s name and is prefaced and indexed by Vasiliǐ Barthol’d (see Khudüd al-ʿĀlem: rukopis’ Tumanskogo). It was Vladimir Minorsky who made the English translation of the entire Ḥodud al-ʿālam in 1937 (the second edition was published in 1970).



ZVOIRAO—Zapiski Vostochnogo otdeleniya Imperatorskogo Russkogo arheologicheskogo obshestva.

Rossiǐskiǐ gosudarstvennyǐ arkhiv literatury i iskusstva (Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts), delo 777, dos’e 87, listy 7-8.

“Ponyǐ posluzhnoǐ spisok polkovnika Tumanskogo A.G. po sostoyaniyu na mart 1917 g.” (Full service record of Colonel A. G.Tumanskiǐ as of March 1917), Rossiǐskiǐ gosudarstvennyzǐ voenno-istoricheskiǐ arkhiv (Russian State Military-Historical Archive), fond 409, opis’ 1, delo 148-610 (1917 g.).

Selected works.

“Dva poslednikh babidskikh otkroveniya (Loukh)” (Two last Babid revelations [Lowḥ]), ZVOIRAO 6, 1891, pp. 314-21.

“Poslednee slovo Baha-ully—kniga zaveta Kitab-i-Akhd ” (The last word of Bahā-Allāh: the book of legacy, Ketāb-e ʿahd), ZVOIRAO 7, 1892, pp. 193-203.

“K voprosu ob avtorakh istorii babidov, izvestnoǐ pod imenem Tarikhe Manukchi ili Tarikhe jadid” (About the authors of the history of the Babis, Known under the title Tāriḵ-e manukči or Tāriḵ-e jadid), ZVOIRAO 8, 1893, pp. 33-45.

“Po povodu ‘Kitab-i Korkut’” (On account of the Ketāb-e qorqut), ZVOIRAO 9, 1896, pp. 269-73.

Abu’l-Ḡāzi Bahādor Khan, Rodoslovnaya turkmen (Genealogical tree of the Turkmen), tr. A.G.Tumanskiǐ, Ashgabat, 1897.

Voennoe iskusstvo u drevnikh arabov (Military art of the ancient Arabs), Ashgabat, 1897.

Kitabe Akdes, “Svyashchenneǐshaya kniga” sovremennykh babidov (Ketāb-e Aqdas, the most sacred book of contemporary Babis), text, tr., introd., and indexes by A.G.Tumanskiǐ, St.Petersburg, 1899 (Zapiski Imperatorskoǐ Akademii Nauk, 8th Ser., Istoriko-filologicheskoe otdelenie, vol. 3, No. 6).


M.K.Baskhanov, Russkie voennye vostokovedy do 1917 goda: biobibliograficheskiǐ slovar’ (Russian military Orientalists before the year 1917: Bio-bibliographical dictionary), Moscow, 2005; pp. 242-43.

Ḥudüd al-ʿĀlam: ‘The Regions of the World,’ A Persian Geography 372 A.H.—982 A.D., ed. and tr. V.Minorsky, London, 1937; 2nd ed. pref. V.V.Barthold, ed. C.E. Bosworth, London, 1970.

Khudüd al-ʿĀlem: rukopis’ Tumanskogo (Ḥodud al-ʿālam: the manuscript of Tumanskiǐ), introd. and indexes by V.V.Bartol’d, Leningrad, 1930 (facsim. ed.).

I.Yu.Krachkovskiǐ, “A.G.Tumanskiǐ” [obituary], Novyǐ Vostok, bk. 1, Moscow and Petrograd, 1922, p. 112.

N.A.Kuznetsova, “K istorii izucheniya Babizma i Bahaizma v Rossii” (On the history of the study of Babism and Bahaism in Russia), Iranskiǐ sbornik 6, Moscow, 1963, pp. 90-91.

Idem, Iran v pervoǐ polovine XIX veka (Iran in the first half of the 19th century), Moscow, 1983, pp. 199-231.

J.Dorri, “Moṭāleʿāt-e tāriḵi-e Bābi wa Bahāʾi dar āṯār-e mowarreḵin wa nevisandegān-e Rusiye,” in Ḵušehā-i az ḵerman-e adab wa honar 7: Proceedings of a Seminar on Nabil-i-A‘zam-i-Zarandi, Wienacht, Switzerland, 1996, pp. 125-50.

August 15, 2009

(Jahangir Dorri)

Originally Published: August 15, 2009

Last Updated: August 15, 2009