Monday, September 26, 2016

Jean Chardin's Travels to Persia - A Critical Look at the Available Digital Copies


This is the third part of a series where I discuss the available digital copies of the publications of a particular writer. The first two parts were about Jean-Baptiste Labat's works and Bernhard Havestadt's Chilidúgu. This text is dedicated to Jean Chardin (1643-1713) and his books about his travels to Persia. They appeared since 1671 and some of them were also translated into English, German and Dutch. Which of the different editions of his works have been digitized? Where can I find these digital copies? How is their quality? Are they usable for serious work? 

Chardin's extensive reports about his stays in Persia are very interesting and highly informative. He also was also - and that's what's of interest for me here and the reason I had to make myself familiar with his books - the first one who brought back and published an original Persian song. At least he claimed it was. It would remain for a long time the only piece of music from Persia that was available to European readers. This song later also had a history of its own and was reprinted and republished until the early 20th century. 

An excellent introduction to Chardin's life and works is still Emerson's article in the Encyclopaedia Iranica (1991/2011, available online). It is very helpful to understand the publication history of his books and also lists more relevant literature. An entertaining description of his life and achievements can be found in book published in 1840, the Lives and Exploits of the Most Distinguished Voyagers, Adventurers and Discoverers (here pp. 253-80). This is still worth reading and also shows that at that time his name was well known and he was regarded as one of the most important voyagers of his era. Modern readers may wish to start with Wikipedia but the articles about Chardin in English, French and German are all a little bit too short. 


French Hugenot Jean Chardin, a jeweller and merchant, went on two extended business trips to Persia and India, the first in the 1660s and the second one in the following decade. He stayed there for several years and traveled through the country. His first publication already appeared in 1671: a report about the coronation of the new Persian king and what happened during the first years of his reign. This book was also translated into German. 
  • [Jean Chardin], Le Couronnement de Soleimaan Troisième Roy de Perse, Et ce qui s'est passé de plus mémorable dans les deux premières années de son Regne, Barbin, Paris, 1671,
    at Google Books [= BSB]; at Google Books [= BL]; at Google Books [= BM Lyon]; at Google Books [= NKC]; at Google Books [= BNC Firenze]; at Google Books [= BNC Rom], also at the Internet Archive 
  • -, Seconde Edition, reveuë & corrigée de plusieurs fautes, Paris, 1672 [not yet digitized] 
  • [Jean Chardin], Beschreibung Der Krönung Solimanni Des dritten dieses Nahmens Königs in Persien Und Desjenigen was sich in den ersten Jahren seiner Regirung am denck-würdigsten zu getragen. Anfangs Frantzösisch beschrieben anjetzo aber in die Hoch-Teutsche Sprache versetzet, Widerhold, Genff, 1681, at GoogleBooks [= BSB
  • -, also in: Beschreibung Der Sechs Reisen Welche Johan Baptista Tavernier, Ritter und Freyherr von Aubonne, In Türckey, Persien und Indien innerhalb viertzig Jahren durch alle Wege die man nach diesen Länderen nehmen kan verrichtet: Worinnen Unterschiedliche Anmerckungen von der Beschaffenheit der Religion, Regierung, Gebräuchen und Handlungen, jeglichen Landes enthalten. Samt den Figuren, Gewichten und dem Maß der Müntzen, welche in diesen Länderen gangbar sind [...]. Dritter Theil, Widerhold, Genff, 1681, at Google Books [= BSB
I found six digital copies of the first French edition, all available at Google Books. Usually I am very skeptical about their scans but in this case they seem to be of tolerable quality. But this book includes only very few illustrations and therefore there was not much to do wrong. There are also Google-scans of the the two German editions and they are also usable. 

The first part of his great report about his travels to Persia only appeared in 1686, both in Paris and London. Some extant copies of these two editions have been digitized. There were also two editions published in Amsterdam the same year and one in Rouen in 1687 but I haven't yet seen digital copies of them: 
Thankfully an excellent and complete scan of the edition published in London is available at the French National Library. Another one can be found at the UB Göttingen even though I think their online reader is not always easy to use. In fact it is rather slow and not as effective as one would wish. Besides these two fine copies there are also several produced by Google. These are all very disappointing. Most of the plates were not scanned correctly and therefore look mutilated or are missing completely, for example here in the copy from Lyon (after p. 344 etc) or in the one from the Austrian National Library (after p. 220 etc). These shortcomings render them more or less useless. We can only read the text but not have a look at a digital reproduction of the complete book. But, as should be known, this is a general problem with the scans produced by Google. 
  • Jean Chardin, Des vortrefflichen Ritters Chardin, des grossen Königs in Persien Hoff-Handelsmanns Curieuse Persian- und Ost-Indische Reise-Beschreibung. Bestehend in einem ordentlichen Journal Oder Täglichen Verzeichnüß seiner in Persien und Ost-Indien über das schwartze Meer und den Cholchidem abgelegter Reisen, Gleditsch, Leipzig, 1687, at Google Books [= BSB], also at the Internet Archive 
  • [Jean Chardin], Dagverhaal der Reis van den Ridder Chardyn na Persien en Oost-Indien, door de Swarte Zee en Colchis, van de Jouwer, Amsterdam, 1687, at Google Books [= KBN] 
  • The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and East-Indies. The First Volume, Containing the Author's Voyage from Paris to Ispahan. To which is added, The Coronation of this Present King of Persia, Solayman the Third, Pitt, London, 1686 [ESTC R12885
  • The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and East-Indies, Through the Black Sea, And the Country of Colchis describing Mingrelia, Imiretta, Georgia amnd Several Other Countries Unknown to These Parts of Europe. With a New Map of the Black Sea [...]. To Which is Added, The Coronation of this Present King of Persia, Solayman the Third, Pitt, London, 1689 [ESTC R40322
  • The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East-Indies,Through the Black Sea, and the Country of Colchis,Containing the Author's Voyage from Paris to Ispahan. Illustrated with Twenty Five Copper Plates. To which is added, The coronation of this present King of Persia, Solyman the III., Bateman, London, 1691 [ESTC R18098
Chardin's Journal du Voyage was also translated into German, Dutch and English. One copy each of the German and Dutch editions have been digitized by Google. The former is once again of dubious quality. A considerable number of the plates look mutilated and some may be missing. Surprisingly the latter is of much better quality and - as far as I can see - all the illustrations are included. I know it is hard to believe but in this case it seems to be true. This shows that even Google's scanners are able to reproduce a book completely. This scan was published only recently, in April 2016. 

The three English editions - 1686, 1689 and 1691 - have also been digitized, but not by Google and not by any other library. They can only be found in a closed repository, the well known database Early English Books Online (EEBO). This is of course very disappointing. One major hindrance for the productive use of digital copies is, as already noted, the existence of too many bad scans. But equally problematic are closed repositories: not everybody has access and it is not possible to set direct links to a source. I know of many books of which - a couple of years ago - digital copies were only available in commercial collections like EEBO or ECCO. Today copies in better quality can be found in open repositories. But unfortunately this is not yet the case with the English editions of Chardin's Journal

It took Chardin quite a long time to publish more of his report. In 1711 a new edition appeared in Amsterdam in two variants: one in three volumes and another one - with the same content - in 10 books. The latter was reissued by several French publishers in Rouen and Paris in 1723: 
  • [Jean Chardin], Voyages de Mr. Le Chevalier Chardin, en Perse, et Autres Lieux de L'Orient, de Lorme, Amsterdam, 1711, 3 Vols.,
    at Gallica BnF, also at the Internet Archive; at Google Books [= KBN, 2014]: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3; at Google Books [= KBN, 2016]: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 
  • [Jean Chardin], Voyages de Monsieur Le Chevalier Chardin, en Perse, et Autres Lieux de L'Orient, de Lorme, Amsterdam, 1711, 10 Vols.,
    at BSB [= GB]; at Google Books [= BM Lyon [2 sets]]; at Google Books [= UofLausanne]
  • -, Mazuel, Paris, 1723, 10 Vols., at BSB [= GB; not all Vols. digitized]
An excellent and complete digital copy of the edition in three volumes is available at Gallica BnF. This is also the edition I need. Only in 1711, more than 30 years after his return from his second stay in Persia, did he publish the piece of music he had collected there. We find it in Vol. 2 on plate No. 26 (after p. 114). He included the tune, the original text in Latin transcription and a translation into French. 

This plate is part of a chapter "De La Musique" (pp. 113-5; see also an English translation in Harrison 1972, pp. 130-3). Here he gives some more interesting information, for example about the "modes", the singing style, the instruments and dancing. About the song he simple notes: "J'ai donné dans la même Figure joignante un petit Air Persan sur lequel on jugera aussi de la nature de leurs petits Airs" and he also adds - in French only - several more verses (p. 113). 

This digital copy by the French National Library is perfectly well usable. But two more scans of this edition are available. Both were produced by Google for the Dutch National Library (KBN). The first one, from 2014, should be avoided. Many plates are missing or look mutilated including the one I need (Vol. 2, p. 114). There must have been some problems with the scanner. But - again much to my surprise - the other one, published only recently in April 2016, is of much better quality. Here all illustrations seem to be included (see f. ex. Vol. 2, p. 114). This is very uncommon for Google's scans. It is nice to see that they have decided to reproduce the whole book and not only the text. 

The edition in 10 volumes has also been digitized, but up until now only by Google. I found half a dozen sets but there may be more because I have also seen scattered single volumes of two more sets. Unfortunately all of them are of very dubious quality. Many plates have not been scanned correctly. One may for example have a look at plate 26 in the copy from the BSB (p. 68). It is the same with, for example, one of the copies from the BM Lyon (p. 68), the one from the University of Lausanne (p. 68) or another one I just found (BN Napoli, p. 68). 

In fact none of these copies are reliable. We can read the text but don't get the complete book. This seems to me like an deplorable waste of resources. I would be glad if there was one complete copy instead of six or more incomplete scans. As far as I can see this edition has not yet been digitized by other libraries and therefore no better copy is available. Of the editions published in 1723 I found the one by Mazuel in Paris, but only an incomplete set with four of the 10 volumes that was produced by Google for the BSB. The quality of course leaves a lot to be desired. 

Once again there were English translations of this edition. Two sets of two volumes each appeared in London in 1720 respectively 1724. This was not the complete text but only a part of it. For example the chapter about music wasn't included. As was the case with the earlier English editions these two are only available digitally in a closed database, this time in ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online). This is of course unfortunate. But it should be noted that the quality of the scans at ECCO and EEBO is not the best. They are made from microfilms and are often barely readable. I wonder when better copies will be available in open repositories: 
  • Sir John Chardin's Travels in Persia. Never before translated into English. Containing, A most particular Account, of the Religion, Government, Trade, Product, Rarities, Structures, Arts and Sciences of that great Monarchy [...], Printed for the Author, London, 1720, 2 Vols. [ESTC N23323]
  • [Jean Chardin], A New and Accurate Description of Persia, and Other Eastern Nations [...], Bettesworth etc., London, 1724, 2 Vols. [ESTC T93276
A new edition in French in four volumes came out in 1735 in Amsterdam, published by the Dutch East India Company. An excellent digital copy is available at the Biblioteca Virtual de Patrimonio Bibliográfico. The chapter about music can be found in Vol. 3 (pp. 158-61; here pl. 26) and there is nothing new compared to the earlier edition. Other reliable copies are available at the BDH, in Mannheim and in Göttingen. There is also at least one scanned by Google - for the BSB - but, as expected, it has usual problems and should not be regarded as a reliable reproduction: 
  • [Jean Chardin], Voyages du Chevalier Chardin, en Perse, et Autres Lieux de l'Orient, Nouvelle Edition, 4 Vols., Aux Depens de la Compagnie, Amsterdam, 1735,
    at BVPB; at BDH; at UB Göttingen; at UB Mannheim; at BSB [= GB] 
Over the years short extracts of Chardin's writings were included in anthologies of travel reports, for example in English translation in the popular The World Displayed; Or, A Curious Collection of Voyages and Travels (here Philadelphia 1796, Vol. 6, pp. 1-113) and in 1811 in Pinkerton's General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels (Vol. 9, pp. 138-167). The year 1811 also saw the publication of a new, expanded, French edition, that was put together by the well known scholar and orientalist Louis-Mathieu Langlès:
The National Library of Norway offers an excellent digital copy of this edition. Additionally there are at least six sets produced by Google. The chapter about music can be found in Vol. 4 (pp. 299-311). The editor has added some footnotes here. But there is no plate with the song. In fact for this edition all plates have been relegated to an extra volume which is not included in any of these sets. Apparently nobody has yet digitized this Atlas

I will stop here with this edition. Of course there were also some more in later years - for example one published in 1830 (at Google Books) - and there are also modern reprints. But they should be easy to find. A collection of illustrations from Chardin's Voyages can be found at wikimedia commons. For a lot of them no source is given and therefore it is not clear from which edition they were taken. Nonetheless it is helpful to have them in one place together. Interestingly the plate with the song is not the same as the one in the editions from 1711 and 1735. There is an additional part at the bottom: the tune in modern notation with the text in original writing. It would be interesting to know where it is from. But unfortunately there is no reference to the source of this page. 

All in all the result is not completely satisfying. Nearly every edition of Chardin's works published between 1671 and 1811 has been digitized. But all the English editions are only available in closed repositories, either in EEBO or in ECCO. Besides that we have numerous scans by Google which are nearly always of dubious quality. Their reproductions are usable if they are of books that only include text. If there is more, like illustrations or music, they should be treated with great caution. There is always the chance that something is missing. In fact this particular plate with the song - exactly the page of the book I needed - can not be found in most of their copies. 

But thankfully other libraries have published excellent and complete digital copies of the most important French editions, those from 1686, 1711 and 1735. This was - nearly - all I needed. Only the Atlas of the 1811 edition has not yet been scanned and is therefore missing from the digital world. But of course it is a serious problem that we have to wade through numerous bad scans to find one or two that are good and complete. Of the two editions published in 1711 there are at least seven copies that should be avoided - all at Google Books - and only two complete ones. This ratio is very disappointing but not untypical. At the moment we have to live with these problems. But thanks to the digitizing efforts of so many libraries more and more better copies will be made available. 


At this point I can return to Chardin's "petit Air Persan" and discuss its further history. Here we will once again see that the use of digital sources can not only be very helpful but also adds a dimension of transparency that was not possible in the pre-digital era. Nearly all publications I needed were immediately at hand and all of them are available in open repositories. Therefore I can set a direct link to the source and it can be seen in its original context. 

When Langlès published the new edition of the Voyages in 1811 this "little song" already had made quite an impressive career on its own. At first it was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who helped spread the tune. He included it in his Dictionnaire de Musique as an example of non-European music, besides one Chinese and two Canadian melodies (1768, Planche N). We can also find it in the English edition published in 1779 (pp. 265-6), here with an English translation of the French text. This was the first time the song was made available in a British publication. 

But was it really a Persian tune? Perhaps not. Swedish professor Björnståhl, a well known scholar of oriental languages, claimed in one of his letters from Constantinople in 1777 that it was only "Italian minuet" (Briefe 4.1, 1779, here p. 11; also in Schlözer, Briefwechsel 2.7, 3rd ed. 1780, p. 122; Reichardt's Musikalisches Kunstmagazin 1, 1782, p. 51; Hausleutner, in: Toderini, Litteratur der Türken, 1790, p. 262). This is not an unreasonable assumption, especially coming from an expert like Björnståhl. I have not seen further discussions of the tune's origin. But if so it would be an interesting example of musical exchange: an European melody that had migrated to Persia and then returned to Europe as a Persian song. 

Nonetheless it was later always regarded as original Persian music, for example by German musicologist Hugo von Dahlberg who included it in his influential Musik der Indier (1802, No. 43, p. 37), an extended German edition of Sir William Jones' important article about Indian music, but with many additional "exotic" tunes, not only from India but also from other parts of the world (see in my blog: "Exotic" Airs in Germany - Dalberg's "Ueber die Musik der Indier" (1802)). He called it "Persisches Lied" and added his own translation of the French text ("Deine Wangen sind röthlich wie die Blumen des Granatbaums"). His source was apparently the edition in 10 volumes from 1711 ("Aus Chardin's Reisen Vten Bande") but didn’t use the additional verses quoted there. 

At that time anthologies of international national airs began to appear in England. Interestingly Welsh harper Edward Jones, the foremost expert for this genre, didn't include Chardin's song in any of his collections. In the first one, the Lyric Airs published in 1805, we can find instead a formerly unpublished Persian tune that he had received from a private collector (p. 25). But musicologist William Crotch offered the melody - with a piano arrangement - in his Specimens of Various Styles of Music (1808, No. 315, p. 152). His source was Rousseau's Dictionary

In the following decades Chardin's "little song" reappeared occasionally in publications of different kinds. We can find it for example in La Perse (1814), French historian Amable Jourdain's great work about Persian history and culture. The chapter about music is a good summary of what was known at that time and the "Air Persan" served as the only musical example (Vol. 5, pp. 300-315, Fig. B, after p. 312). American musicologist and composer Thomas Hastings borrowed several tunes including Chardin's from Rousseau's Dictionary for his Dissertation on Musical Taste (1822, p. 219). 

In Germany there was even an attempt at introducing this piece to the popular song repertoire. Wilhelm Zuccalmaglio and Eduard Baumstark, two young admirers of foreign "Volkslieder", added it - with a simple arrangement for piano and guitar - to their Bardale. Sammlung auserlesener Volkslieder der verschiedenen Völker der Erde, the first German anthology of international national airs, (No. 1, p. 1, notes, p. 75). They named as their sources both Rousseau and the new edition of Chardin's Voyages. The original text wasn't included but only a new German translation of first verse of the French lyrics ("Deine Wange ist Granathenblüth' [...]"). But this publication was apparently not particularly successful and I know of no reprints of their version of the song in other collections of "Volkslieder". 

Later the "Air Persan" was also reanimated for some music histories. In Geschichte der Musik aller Nationen (1835), a German edition of Stafford's History of Music (1830), the tunes from Rousseau's Dictionnaire again served as examples of non-European music (see Tafel 4). Another new German translation of the French text was also added ("Dein Gesicht ist frisch, wie die Granatblume [...]"). Even Ambros in his own Geschichte der Musik (I, 1862, p. 109; see also 3rd ed., 1887, p. 455) still quoted the tune even though at that time more Persian songs and tunes had become available, for example those in Chodzko's Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia (1842, pp. 583-92). 

Two more versions in popular anthologies of international national airs followed. In Denmark it was composer A. A. Bergreen who included Chardin's song - with a Danish translation: "Rød din Kind er" - in Folke-Sange og Melodier Fra Lande Udenfor Europa, the 10th volume of the new edition of his great Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede (1870, No. 55, p. 46, notes, p. 101, p. 106). As late as 1901 the tune appeared again - with a new English text, not a translation of the original words - in Alfred Moffat's Characteristic Songs and Dances of all Nations (p. 238):

We can see that the song had a surprisingly long history. Chardin heard a performance somewhere in Persia in the 1670s and then published the transcribed tune, text and French translation in 1711. Since then this piece appeared and reappeared, sometimes in the original form and sometimes in new arrangements, for nearly 200 years in publications of different kinds: musicological treatises, music histories and popular anthologies. 

  • August Wilhelm Ambros, Geschichte der Musik. 1. Band, Leuckart, Breslau, 1862 at the Internet Archive [= GB], 2nd. ed., Leuckart, Leipzig, 1880, at the Internet Archive; 3rd ed., revised, Leuckart, Leipzig, 1887, at the Internet Archive 
  • Eduard Baumstark & Wilhelm von Waldbrühl [i. e. Zuccalmaglio], Bardale. Sammlung auserlesener Volkslieder der verschiedenen Völker der Erde mit deutschem Texte und Begleitung des Pianoforte und der Guitarre, herausgegeben und dem Herrn Geheimen Rathe und Professor Dr. A. F. J. Thibaut hochachtungsvoll gewidmet, I. Band, Friedrich Busse, Braunschweig, 1829, at Google Books [= BSB]
  • A. P. Berggreen, Folke-Sange og Melodier Fra Lande Udenfor Europa, Med en Tillaeg af Folkens Nationalsange, Samlade og Udsatte for Pianoforte (= Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede 10, Anden Utgave), C. A. Reitzel, Köbenhavn, 1870, at the Internet Archive 
  • Jacob-Jonas Björnståhl, Briefe auf seinen ausländischen Reisen an den Königlichen Bibliothekar C.C. Gjörwell in Stockholm. Aus dem Schwedischen übersetzt von Just Ernst Groskurd. Der morgenländische Briefe Erstes Heft welche die Briefe aus Konstantinopel enthält, Koppe, Leipzig & Rostock, 1779, at Google Books 
  • William Crotch, Specimens of Various Styles of Music referred to in A Course of Lectures, read at Oxford & London and Adapted to keyed Instruments, Vol. 1, London, n. d. [1808], at the Internet Archive 
  • [Hugo von Dalberg], Ueber die Musik der Indier. Eine Abhandlung des William Jones. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt, mit erläuternden Anmerkungen und Zusätzen begleitet, von F. H. v. Dalberg. Nebst einer Sammlung indischer und anderer Volks-Gesänge und 30 Kupfern, Beyer und Maring, Erfurt, 1802 (available at BSB, also at the Internet Archive; at Universität Wien, Phaidra
  • John Emerson, "Chardin, Sir John", 1991/2011, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica 
  • Geschichte der Musik aller Nationen. Nach Fetis und Staffort. Mit Benutzung der besten deutschen Hilfsmittel von mehreren Musikfreunden. Mit 12 Abbildungen und 11 Notentafeln, Voigt, Weimar, 1835, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Frank L. Harrison, Time, Place and Music. An Anthology of Ethnomusicological Observation c. 1550 to c. 1800, Amsterdam, 1973 
  • Thomas Hastings, Dissertation on Musical Taste; or General Principles of Taste Applied to the Art of Music, Websters and Skinners, Albany, 1822, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Amable Jourdain, La Perse. Ou Tableau De L'Histoire, Du Gouvernement, De La Religion, De La Littérature, etc., De Cet Empire; Des Moeurs at Coutumes de ses Habitans, Vol. 5, Ferra, Paris, 1814, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Alfred Moffat & James Duff Brown, Characteristic Songs and Dances of All Nations. Edited, with Historical Notes and a Bibliography, Bayley & Ferguson, London, n. d. [c. 1901], at the Internet Archive 
  • Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Musikalisches Kunstmagazin, 1. Band, I.-IIII. Stück, Im Verlage des Verfassers, Berlin, 1782, at the Internet Archive 
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dictionnaire de Musique, Veuve Duchesne, Paris, 1768, at the Internet Archive 
  • [Jean-Jacques Rousseau], A Complete Dictionary of Music. Consisting Of A Copious Explanation of all Words necessary to a true Knowledge and Understanding of Music. Translated from the original French of J. J. Rousseau. By William Waring. Second Edition, J. Murray, London & Luke White, Dublin, 1779 [ESTC N5070], at the Internet Archive [= GB
  • August Ludwig Schlözer, Briefwechsel meist historischen und politischen Inhalts, Zweiter Theil, Heft VII-XII 1777, 3. Auflage, Vandenhoeck, Göttingen, 1780, at BSB 
  • J. A. St. John, Hugh Murray et al., Lives and Exploits of the Most Distinguished Voyagers, Adventurers and Discoverers, In Europe, Asia, Africa, The South Sea, And Polar Regions, Huntington, Hartford & New York, 1840, at the Internet Archive 
  • Giambatista Toderini, Litteratur der Türken. Aus dem Italiänischen. Mit Zusätzen und Anmerkungen von Philipp Wilhelm Gottlieb Hansleutner, Nicolovius, Königsberg, 1790, pp. 240-67, at ÖNB [= GB]

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