Jean Calmard (1931-2017)

Jean CalmardJean Calmard was born in Paris in 1931 and as a young man served for some years in the French navy. He was in his early thirties when he discovered his real passion and métier after three years of travel in Iran, Afghanistan and India. He then studied Persian and Urdu in the École nationale des langues orientales and also spent a year at the University of Tehran (1967-68).

He was appointed as researcher at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), where he worked with Professor Jean Aubin and also learnt Arabic and Middle-Persian. After submitting his doctoral dissertation on the commemoration rituals of Karbala in pre-Safavid Persia (Sorbonne nouvelle, 1975), he embarked on an impressive series of publications on a vast range of topics connected with Iran from the Middle Ages to modern times, with an emphasis on religious history.

Jean Calmard taught at the École pratique des hautes études (1975-1995), at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Inalco, formerly École des langues orientales), at the Sorbonne nouvelle (1981-1995) and at the University of Strasbourg. He headed a research group at the CNRS, supervised numerous PhD dissertations, and continued, after Professor Aubin’s retirement, to run the publications of the Société d’Histoire de l’Orient (from 1998). He was also an eminent and energetic contributor to many other academic domains: he was a founding member of the Societas Iranologica Europæa, as well as a very active editor and contributor to Abstracta Iranica and Studia Iranica, to which he contributed numerous articles, at times so substantial that they could have appeared as monographs. His contributions to both the Encyclopædia of Islam (Brill) and Encyclopædia Iranica deserve special mention. He not only took an active part as member of their advisory boards, but also contributed many valuable articles on a wide range of subjects. The 2006 volume of Eurasian Studies (combining v.1-2) entitled Liber Amicorum, Études sur l’Iran médiéval et moderne offertes à Jean Calmard, edited by Michele Bernardini, Masashi Haneda and Maria Szuppe, contains a bibliography of his main publications from 1971 to 2004. It is a lasting testimonial to both his formidable productivity and impressive erudition.

All those who have worked with him will have their own fond memories of Jean Calmard. One recalls and cherishes not only his unbounded enthusiasm and curiosity as a scholar – specially encompassing all things Iranian – but also the selfless generosity with which he shared his irreplaceable learning with colleagues and students.

Jean Calmard recently submitted to Studia Iranica an article on “Louise de la Marnierre, 1781-1840,” a fascinating lady who ended her life at the court of the Qajars. It will be published in the next issue (2017). It will also serve as a sad reminder of how much we shall miss him and the numerous articles and books, which this perfectionist researcher had not been able to bring to publication before his death, as he searched for fresh material to add to his already lavish documentation.

We offer our deepest condolences to Madame Jacqueline Calmard to whom we also owe a great debt of gratitude for many fine contributions to the Encyclopædia Iranica.