The Nart Epic in Persian (scandal!)

A Russian colleague has been insisting to me for months now that our unexplained expulsion from Ossetia was due to the machinations of some jealous Ossetian academic. I couldn’t imagine who among the many scholars I met might have done such a thing or why, but on reading the following Facebook post from Diana Ardykhaeva (translated here from Russian) I am starting to think my colleague might have been right…

“Prof. T.T. Kambolov writes:

The Ossetian Nart epic, translated into Persian – “Nart-nameh” has been published. Soon it will be sent to the leading scientific centers of Iranian studies in the world, and our epic will become the subject of study for hundreds of new researchers. Many thanks to the Head of North Ossetia-Alania V.Z. Bitarov, who financed this project. Thanks to the publishing house “SEM”, which took over a significant part of the work. I am glad that I was able to provide some assistance in the implementation of this project as a scientific consultant.

Diana Adyrkhaeva responds:

Tamerlan Kambolov in this project acts as an impostor who has appropriated someone else’s labor. Unlike Mr. Kambolov, a specialist in French philology, I am an Iranologist, and translating the Nart epic into Farsi was an old dream of mine. And the entire project, from its very beginning to publication, was carried out on my initiative and under my leadership and with the active and extremely valuable participation of a group of Iranian enthusiasts and real professional Ossetian Nartologists formed around this project.

First, in the summer of 2017, with the help of the Iranian scholar Tamerlan Dzotov, we found several books with the English version of the epic, and in September 2017, the Iran scholar Pavel Ripinskaya and I took them to Iran to the leading specialized scientific and educational institutions of this country, where we talked a lot with the leadership and specialists about Ossetia and the Nart epic, about which 99.9% of Iranians had not heard anything there before us.

At that time, he volunteered to undertake the translation of the epic – a teacher, and now – the head of the department of the Russian language of the largest humanities university in Iran –  Allameh Tabatabai University, Musa Abdollahi. There were other Iranian Russianists there, but I chose Musa, as he spoke Russian the best of all of them and, moreover, worked in parallel at the Institute of Caucasian Studies, with which we collaborated a lot.

We initially decided that all work on the translation of the Ossetian version of the Nart epic from Russian into Persian would be carried out entirely voluntarily and without any fees, since we did not have any budget. We, all the participants, and first of all the translator himself, invested our personal funds, our knowledge, our work and our personal time in this project. With the help of Zalina Kanukova, historian Elina Tavasieva, and other historians of Ossetia, who issued an invitation to Musa to Ossetia, we managed to organize Musa Abdollahi’s trip to Ossetia for a month in the summer of 2018 through SOGU and SOIGSI, I presented him with a book with the text of the epic, this time in Russian, she summoned all the best specialists in Nart studies to help him, who, thanks a lot to them, responded vividly and helped Musa a lot during his business trip. These were the highly respected Aleksey and Ludwig Chibirov, Fedar Takazov, Elbrus Sattsaev, Tamerlan Salbiev, as well as the artist Tigran Kaitmazov who painted pictures on the Nart themes, the poet Chermen Dudayev and others. I bow to all these people for their response, help, knowledge and selfless work for the benefit of our common homeland, its culture and its future!

In October 2018, the text of the translation of the epic was ready, and it was decided that, since it was necessary to take not the complete multivolume version, but the most widely known text of the one-volume abridged version, edited by Lebedinsky, to supplement the translation with an extended introductory article authored by Fedar Takazov.

In December 2017, at the forum “Iran and the North Caucasus” in Vladikavkaz, I signed an agreement with the Vice-Rector for Research of Allameh Tabatabai University Mr. Yazdi on the publication of the translation made by Musa Abdollahi in Iran at the expense of that university. In October 2018, in Tehran, at a large representative conference at Allameh Tabatabai, Mr. Yazdi confirmed his intention and promise. But soon after that Iran was covered with the ninth wave of the most powerful new sanctions, the Iranian currency collapsed many times in a matter of days, after which it became clear that Musa’s University would be able to finance the publication of our book only after a few years. And the translator was in a hurry and did not want to wait. Therefore, in agreement with him, I began to look for new sponsors to publish the finished translation.

Musa, meanwhile, sent the book to the Iranian Ministry of Guidance, the text of the book received permission to print in Iran, a code, etc.

One of those people whom I told about the search for funds to publish 500 copies of the book with the translation of the Nart epic into Farsi in Iran was an archaeologist I know from Ossetia, Nazim Gidjrati. This happened in March 2019. Then Nazim learned from me about this project and about the existence of such a translation in nature. Nazim said that he could ask the government of North Ossetia-Alania for money. I was pleased with this idea, especially since it was supposed to expand the cooperation of the republic with Iran, and this book, as a visiting card of Ossetia and a key to its culture, in such a literary-centric (and even epic-centric) country like Iran would be very useful. And it could be presented at some of the nearest official interregional events in the field of science and economics.

Mr. Gijrati asked me for a project estimate for submission to the government of the republic, Musa and I prepared it and sent it to him. There were no fees for anyone, we only needed money to pay for the publishing layout and printing. Further, the Iranian publishing house through its chain of stores would distribute and advertise the book throughout the country.

Months passed, Nazim was silent and told me in response to questions that we had to wait, we waited … And six months later, in November 2019, in front of the Iranian delegation that arrived in Vladikavkaz, spoke … Tamerlan Kambolov (?) And he was proud to declare before the venerable audience gathered that, under his scientific leadership, the translation of the Nart epic into Farsi was carried out. At the same time, of course, not a word was said about those people who actually worked on this project.

Please note that by the time Tamerlane Kambolov appeared on the stage, more than a year had passed since the full translation was ready for publication! Later, I learned from Musa Abdollahi that Nazim Gidjrati came to him in Iran in the summer of 2019 and bought the rights to the manuscript with the text of the translation from him on behalf of the Government of the Republic of North Ossetia-A. At the same time, Musa was promised a certain fee in exchange for his consent to replace the preface made by a professional Nartologist with a preface by Kambolov and to publish the Farsi-language circulation not in Iran, but in Ossetia.

As it turned out later, his longtime friend, Mr. Kambolov, an expert in French linguistics and part-time adviser to the head of the North Ossetia Organization, who found out about the finished translation of the epic from Mr. Ghidjrati, collected 600,000 rubles (about $8,000) through MinNats (it would have taken half as much to publish the same number of copies in Iran ) from the reserve fund of the head of RNO-A for the publication in Ossetia in the publishing house “Sem” close to Mr. Kambolov of the translation made by Musa Abdollahi … under the alleged scientific supervision of Mr. Kambolov! The relevant certificate obtained by Nazim Gijrati in Iran was presented to MinNat.

Having learned about this, I expressed my indignation to both Mr. Gidjrati and Mr. Kambolov, saying that, firstly, after this I would be ashamed to look into the eyes of all the people who really helped this project, but did not know that they were working not for Ossetia nor for science, but for the personal promotion of Mr. Kambolov, who has access to the republic’s financial reserves.

The worst is that without a proper scholarly introduction, the translation loses half of its meaning! Moreover, the book, being published in Ossetia, will not be available in Iran! No one will transport 500 copies of a 500-page book there for free (I have been working with the Iranians for over a decade and I have a good idea of ​​the state of affairs and organization in this area), and the commercial transportation of the circulation will require the same amount of money, which no one is going to allocate yet ! And besides, there is no point in bringing the circulation to Iran and dumping it there as a dead load in some warehouse, since you need to work with Iranian publishing houses and chain stores to distribute books across the country and advertise them! If Iranian publishers had published the book themselves, they would have done it. And with the current configuration, no one will do it!

Now today (6 October 2020), Mr. Kambolov has published a post in which, knowing all my claims, he did not mention a single name of the people who actually worked on the book. At first, he even declared himself the scientific consultant of the book, but then, after my indignation was expressed, he deleted this phrase from the text of the post and added a wording about an unnamed “international scientific group.” All my comments, including those in which I listed the names of people who worked on this project, he erased (but I saved all the screenshots), then he blocked me, and now our main Ossetian plagiarist and impostor accepts congratulations and gratitude for the work of other people. Note that he did not even mention the translator’s name in the text of the post! He does not even know which university this person works at! Not because he couldn’t find out, he just doesn’t care! He is too carried away with himself and thinks that no one can reach him, an advisor to the Head of the Republic! As Mikhail Afanasevich wrote, it’s a pity that some people forget so quickly how quickly and easily a onetime official can become unofficial, and vice versa!

I had no wish to bring all this to the public, and until the last moment I tried to persuade all the participants, each of whom I know personally, to listen to my arguments, to publish the book in Iran, not in Ossetia, to thank everyone who unselfishly helped with it, to work and thereby not bring the matter to a scandal, but now, alas, I had to.”

Diana Adyrkhaeva

Published by Richard Foltz

Professor in the Department of Religions and Cultures, Concordia University, Montréal, Canada

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