Eastern Persian Irak
Eastern Persian Irak

HOUTUM-SCHINDLER, General Albert. Eastern Persian Irak.

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HOUTUM-SCHINDLER, General Albert. Eastern Persian Irak. London, John Murray, 1897.

8vo. Original half-roan over cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt, RGS logo in gilt on front cover; pp. viii, 132, fold-out lithographic map in black and sepia with insert map of the environs of Tehran, one plate after photograph; light fading and rubbing to spine, map with one repaired tear and light darkening to margins, otherwise very good.
First edition, very rare. (a few copies seem to be dated 1896). A valuable account of the topography, tribes-people and natural history of the region. The author, a Fellow of the R.G.S., writes in the introduction 'Eastern Persian Irak… is practically a blank on all existing maps. The rich and fertile districts of Jasp, Ardahal, Kohistan of Kom, Sarsdir of Kashan, are perfect terrae incognitae, and no published map that I have seen shows them … The accompanying map has been compiled from my own surveys, which were done, a little at a time, during the last eighteen years' (p. 1). Of Dutch and German origin, Houtum-Schindler served the Persian government, from 1868 onwards as inspector-general of the Persian telegraph service with the rank of General. Later he was in charge of Khorasan's turquoise mines, before becoming inspector of branches of the Imperial Bank in 1882. As an advisor to the Imperial Government he had to travel widely, and his deep knowledge of the infrastructure, society, local economy, and the different ethnic groups are summed up in this very rare work. 'In the course of the forty-two years that he had spent in Persia, Houtum-Schindler acquired more precise information about the state of the country than any other European had ever done, either before or most probably since … To his study of Persia, Houtum-Schindler brought the exactitude and industry of a genuine scholar manqué. His understanding of literary and colloquial Persian was impressive; he built up a valuable library, and published over fifty articles in the leading English, German, and Austrian orientalist and geographical journals of the day, as well as encyclopaedias and reference works. His most important study was the one book which he compiled himself, Eastern Persian Irak …, a meticulous account of the region between Tehran and Esfahan.' (ODNB). Lord Curzon was heavily indebted to Houtum Schindler and acknowledged that. 'Few men [are] so excellently qualified to write a first-rate book themselves would have lent such unselfish exertion to improve the quality of another man's work' (Curzon, 1.xiii)' (quotation from ODNB).

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