St. Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1856-1858. Item #596
3 vols. bound together. Vii, 121, ; vii, 139, [1- errata]; , xxxvii, 113,  pp. 24x16 cm. Period style green half morocco. Paper slightly age toned, a couple of mild water stains in text, but overall a very good copy.
First edition. First special Russian monograph on the Kurds, with an important first publication of several Kurdish texts with Russian translations, and interesting extensive vocabularies of Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish) and Zaza-Gorani languages. The book was written by a noted Russian Orientalist, archaeologist and translator Peter Lerch (1827-1884), and was based on his interviews with Kurdish prisoners-of-war who were interned in Roslavl (Smolensk region, western Russia) during the Crimean War. Lerch went to Roslavl on the special assignment of the Russian Academy of Sciences and stayed there for three months in 1856, where about a hundred Kurds were stationed,“mostly from the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates or Western Kurdistan” (Lerch, vol. 2, p. 8). Lerch mentions several localities where the Kurds were from, including Mardin, Al-Jazira, Dersim, Mush, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Birecik, Harput/Elazig, Malatya, Maden, Arapgir and others. Lerch vividly describes the character and national features of the Kurdish prisoners he talked to (and life stories of some of them), their songs and dances, talked about their costumes, manners and customs;the book also includes an overview of the grammar, pronunciation and history of Kurdish languages and the story of Lerch learning them. The texts, recorded by the Standard Alphabet (Lepsius), are the translations into Kurdish of Turkish fables, fairy tales, stories about Nasreddin Hodja,an original Kurdish story about the meeting with General Nikolay Muravyov during his travel from Alexandropol (Gyumri, Armenia) to Kars in 1856, and others. The vocabularies contain about 2000 and 400 words in Kurmanji and Zaza-Gorani languages accordingly. The first volume is an overview of the main sources on the history of the Kurdish tribes. Overall an important Russian research of the Kurdish language and ethnography based on the personal interviews with the Kurds who ended up in Russia. It was due to the Crimean War that the interest to Kurds significantly rose in Russia, and Russian Academy of Sciences became an important centre of studies of Kurdish history and language. Just two years later after Lerch’s book, the translation of the famous “Sharafnama” – the main source on the Kurdish history – was published in Saint Petersburg, becoming its first printed edition (Sheref-Hameh ou histoire des kourdes. Vol. 1-2, SPb., 1860-62).