BONGĀH-E TARJOMA (Tarjama) WA NAŠR­-E KETĀB (B.T.N.K.). “The [Royal] Institute for Translation and Publication” was founded in 1953 on the initiative of Ehsan Yarshater (Eḥsān Yār-e Šāṭer) through the good offices of Asad-Allāh ʿAlam, then Superintendent of the Crown Properties (Amlāk wa mostaḡellāt-e Pahlavī), under the auspices of Moḥammad Reżā Shah Pahlavī. It was registered as a limited liability company with the privileges of a nonprofit organization. The initial Board of Directors consisted of A. ʿAlam (Chairman), M. J. Behbahānīān, the Deputy Superintendent of the Crown Properties, and E. Yarshater (Director), with Sayyed Ḥasan Ta­qizadeh (Taqīzāda), then Speaker of the Senate, as Advisor. In 1956 Edward Joseph was assigned as Auditor (bāzras). The initial capital was set at 1,000,000 Rials, later raised to 5,000,000 Rials ($70,000) and divided into 5,000 shares, which was paid gradually within some five years by the Crown Pro­perties. As proposed by its director, sound business practices were adopted by the Institute in the manage­ment of its affairs in order to avoid inefficiency and bureaucratic waste. This meant that the Institute had to support itself through the sale of its publications, once the initial capital was paid. This principle was essen­tially maintained to the end, even though the Institute received in the course of its operations several donations from the National Oil Co. and the Pahlavi Foundation as well as loans from the latter. The Institute’s Dāneš-­nāma project was supported by the Plan Organization (see below).

In 1964 the Pahlavi Foundation (q.v.) was established and many of the assets of the Crown Properties were transferred to it. The Institute, basically independent until then, was claimed by the Foundation (headed by A. ʿAlam) and became one of its affiliates. Legally, the Foundation acted as the shareholder of the Institute and exercised ultimate control over its fiscal affairs, with the Foundation’s president serving ex officio as the chairman of its Board. In 1967 Jaʿfar Šarīf Emāmī, former Prime Minister, succeeded ʿAlam as the president of the Foundation. He opted later to enlarge the Board by having Senators Moḥammad Ḥejāzī, Moḥammad Saʿīdī and, later, Ebrāhīm Ḵᵛājanūrī appoin­ted to its membership. In editorial matters, however, the Institute continued to maintain essentially an indepen­dent stance, with the director exerting full discretion in the choice of works and the selection of authors, editors and translators in the series published under his general editorship.

In 1958, when the director of the Institute was invited to teach at Columbia University, Bahrām Farahvašī acted as deputy director. In subsequent years, ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Zarīnkūb, Īraj Afšār, and Jaʿfar Šeʿār acted in the same position. From 1965, Ḥasan Ḏawqī, a retired high-ranking official of the Ministry of Education, a former director of Religious Endowments (awqāf), and a man of exceptional integrity and dedication, acted as the deputy director. After his death in 1976, he was succeeded by ʿAbd-Allāh Sayyār, who had been the director of the printing and publication department of the Institute from the third year of its existence and whose expertise, efficiency, and dedication had greatly helped the quality of the Institute’s book manufacture.

The primary purpose of the Institute was a systematic translation of foreign classics into Persian, and this engaged its efforts during the first three years of its existence; but provision had been made in the Institute’s statutes for other publications, and it gradually em­barked on several other ventures, such as translation of literature for the young and publication of critical editions of Persian texts. The Institute’s statutes called for the translation of English, French, German, and Russian works from the original languages, while works written in other tongues were translated from a version in one of the above languages. Agreements with translators, editors of texts, and authors were formalized by a contract which entitled the Institute to the copyright and the other party to a designated sum payable in two installments, three-fourths upon delivering a publish­able manuscript and the balance upon publication.

Publications of B.T.N.K. The Institute’s publications appeared in various series (majmūʿas) designed to respond to particular needs. Ad hoc publications were avoided. One of the distinguishing features of the Institute’s publications was that it established for the first time a process of editing the translations which often involved having them checked against the original works in order to ensure their accuracy. Not infrequently, the translations were heavily edited or partially rewritten. This did not mean that the final products were necessarily perfect; in fact, one translation (A. Gide’s Les nourritures terrestres) had to be reassigned and redone after publication and another (K. Inostrantsev’s Sasanidskie ètyudy) had to be revised and re-issued, and the sound translation of Ebn Ḵaldūn’s Moqaddema improved almost to perfection in its second edition thanks to the meticulous checking and revision of Moḥammad Farzān, while some others met the Institute’s standards only partially (information supplied by Yarshater). A persistent effort was, however, made to publish sound translations, despite cir­cumstances, both cultural and linguistic, which militated against literate or credible renditions. The Institute was also the first in Iran to have a special design for each series, to use blurbs, to employ an emblem as hallmark (adapted from a painted stag which decorates a ceramic vase found in Susa, 4th millennium b.c.; see P. Amiet, Elam, Paris, 1966, p. 41, pl. 13 [Yarshater]), and to provide details on the copyright page as to the printers and the number of copies printed—measures which later were adopted by many other publishers. The designs of the jackets as well as the stylized calligraphy employed in earlier B.T.N.K. publications were devised by the noted artist Maḥmūd Jawādīpūr, as were the cover designs of the series for the young. The angular calligraphic stylization used in the earlier publications of the Institute started a wave of such innovations which still continues, sometimes with unfortunate results. The Institute later returned to the nastaʿlīq style of calligraphy for titles.

Except for the series intended for the young and the Dāneš-nāma, the Institute’s publications were hardbound. The blurb on hardbound copies, except for the General Knowledge Series which had no jackets, consis­ted of two parts: on folded jackets at the left short biographies of the authors and on the right those of the translators and their pictures were printed. The In­stitute did not allow dedications or dedicatory prefaces and even discouraged introductions beyond short no­tices as a reaction against long-winded, unnecessary preambles. The sponsorship of the king was acknowl­edged, however, from 1958 by the phrase “By order of King Moḥammad-Reżā Pahlavī (Be farmān-e Mo­ḥammad-Reżā Shah Pahlavī)” printed on an otherwise blank front page of the front material. (From about 1968 Āryāmehr was added to the phrase, following the official title of the king.)

The major series were as follows:

1. Foreign literature series (Majmūʿa-ye adabīyāt-­e ḵārejī, 71 vols.). To launch this series five translations were published simultaneously in 1955 (Schiller’s Wil­helm Tell by M. A. Djamalzadeh, J. Bédier’s version of Tristan et Iseut by P. N. Ḵānlarī, five of Plato’s treatises by M. Ṣanāʿī, Turgeniev’s Otsy i deti (Fathers and Sons) by M. Āhī, and Confucius’ Analects by Kāẓemzāda Īrānšahr). The publication of the volumes made a considerable impression among Persian publishers and readers alike by virtue of the reputation of the trans­lators, the quality of manufacturing and printing, freedom from typographical errors, and attention to detail. Other works followed in rapid succession. Alto­gether, seventy-one volumes were published in this series, including translations of such classics as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; Kalidāsaδs Śakuntalā; several plays by Euripides and Sophocles; Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; Shakespeare’s King Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and a number of his other plays; Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels; Corneille’s Rodogune and Horace; Voltaire’s Candide; Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice; Goethe’s Egmont; Stendahl’s Le rouge et le noir; Balzac’s Père Goriot and La peau de chagrin; Ibsen’s Et dukkehjem (A Doll’s House), Gjengangere (Ghosts), and En folkefiende (An Enemy of the People); Hesse’s Steppenwolf; several plays by Tagore; Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal, Lagerqvist’s Barrabas; Flaubert’s L’éducation senti­mentale, and Eliot’s The Waste Land. A number of the translations in this series were incorporated into UNESCO’s Collection of Representative Works, fol­lowing an understanding with that organization.

2. Children’s and young adults’ literature. This consisted first of three series, namely Majmūʿa-ye kūdakān (for the age group 4-7, 24 vols.), Majmūʿa-ye nowjavānān (ages 8-11, 27 vols.), and Majmūʿa-ye javānān (ages 12-15, 47 vols.). The Kūdakān series consisted of both illustrated translations and original works. The other two series (some 75 vols.) were mostly translations of simplified literary works or works written for the young. Later included in the literature for the young were four translation series: profile of the nations (Majmūʿa-ye čehra-ye melal, 31 vols.), transla­ted from a series edited by J. B. Lippincott Co., on the geography, history, and culture of various countries, intended primarily for teenagers (see the review by M. Rajabnīā, Rāhnamā-ye ketāb 9/2, 1966, pp. 182-84); stories of the nations (Dāstānhā-ye melal, consisting of tales and stories from various countries of the world, 19 vols.); the biographical series (Sargoḏašt-e bozorgān, 5 vols.; and mirror of persia series (Aʾīna-ye Īrān), consisting of original works which purported to provide in fictional or dialogue form accurate infor­mation about life in various parts of Persia (3 vols.: Isfahan by M. A. Djamalzadeh, Tehran by S. Nafīsī, and Gīlān by K. Kešāvarz).

3. Iranology series (Majmūʿa-ye Īrān-šenāsī, 68 vols.). This consisted of translations of works by Western orientalists and classical writers (e.g., Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, Procopius’ Persian Wars, Ethé’s Persische Literatur, Le Strange’s Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, Lambton’s Landlord and Peasant, Dyakonov’s Istoriya Midii, Wilson’s Persian Gulf, Spuler’s Die Mongolen in Iran and Iran in frühislamischer Zeit [1st part], Lukonin’s Kul’tura Sasanidskogo Irana, Curzon’s Per­sia and the Persian Question, Lockhart’s The Fall of the Safavid Dynasty and the Afghan Occupation of Iran, Ghirshman’s Iran des origines jusqu’à l’Islam, Perses, Proto-iraniens, Mides, Achéménides, and Iran Parthe et Sassanide, Röhrborn’s Provinzen und Zentralgewalt Persiens, and Dimand’s Handbook of Muhammadan Art), as well as works written by Muslim historians and geographers in Arabic (e.g., Yaʿqūbī’s Taʾrīḵ and Ketāb al-boldān, Masʿūdī’s Morūj al-ḏahab and al-Tanbīh wa’l-­ešrāf, Ebn ʿArabšāh’s ʿAjāʾeb al-maqdūr, and Ebn al-Ṭeqṭaqā’s al-Faḵrī). Special attention was paid to translating the works of Russian Iranologists, which were less accessible to Persian readers. Some sixty volumes were published in the Iranology series, which also included travelogues such as those of Ebn Baṭṭūṭa, Clavijo, Don Juan of Persia, Soltikov, Pietro della Valle, and Vambéry (Voyages d’un faux derviche).

4. Persian texts series (Majmūʿa-ye motūn-e fārsī, 48 vols.). This series was devoted to critical edition of Persian non-published texts or texts published in uncritical editions. The series represented the first attempt in Persia to publish Persian texts systemati­cally. Under Yarshater’s general editorship it adopted the common method of critical editions in the west, best exemplified in Persia by those of M. Qazvīnī, with the manuscripts clearly defined and the significant variants recorded in the footnotes. (See the general editor’s explanatory note [tawżīḥ] at the begin­ning of the volumes in this series for details of the methods employed in the edition of the texts.) The series included Anwarī’s Dīvān by Modarres Rażawī, Bīḡamī’s Dārāb-nāma (in fact Fīrūzšāh-nāma) and Ṭarsūsī’s Dārāb-nāma by Ḏ. Ṣafā, ʿOṯmān Moḵtārī’s Dīvān by Jalāl Homāʾī, Jaʾfarī’s Tārīḵ-eYazd by Ī. Afšār, Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh’s Seḥāḥ al-fors by ʿA-ʿA. Ṭāʿatī, ʿAṭṭār’s Manṭeq al-ṭayr by S. Ṣ. Gowharīn, Ḵᵛorandāzī’s Sīrat-e Jalāl-al-Dīn by M. Mīnovī, Neẓām-al-Molk’s Sīar al-molūk by H. Darke, Abū ʿAlī ʿOṯmānī’s Tarjama-ye resāla-ye qošayrīya by B. Forūzānfar, ʿOnṣor-al-Maʿālī’s Qabūs-nāma by Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, Ḥasan Rūmlū’s Aḥsan al-tawārīḵ by ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Mobārakšāh’s Farhang-e Qawwās by Naḏīr Aḥmad, Abū-Esḥāq Nīšābūrī’s Qeṣaṣ al-anbīāʾ by Ḥ. Yaḡmāʾī, Fażl-Allāh Rūzbehān’s Mehmān-nāma-ye Boḵārā by M. Sotūda, Jorfāḏaqānī’s Tārīḵ-eyamīnī by J. Šeʿār, Malekšāh Ḥosayn’s Eḥyāʾ al-molūk by M. Sotūda, Maḥmūd Naṭanzī’s Noqāwat al-āṯār by E. Ešrāqī, Sadīd-al-Dīn Ḡaznavī’s Maqāmāt-e Žendapīl by Ḥ. Moʾayyad, Ḥāfeẓ Ḥosayn’s Rawżāt al-jenān by J. Solṭān-al-Qorrāʾī, Nasavī’s Kašf al-ḥaqāʾeq by A. Mah­dawī Dāmḡānī, Aḥmad b. Moḥammad Ṭūsī’s Tafsīr-e sūra-ye Yūsof by M. Rowšan, Awḥad-al-Dīn Kermānī’s Manāqeb by B. Forūzānfar, Sāvajī’s Jamšīd o ḵᵛoršīd by J. P. Asmussen and F. Vahman, Qāšānī’s Tārīḵ-eOljāytū by M. Hamblī, ʿAbd-al-Qāder Marāḡī’s Ma­qāṣed al-alḥān by T. Bīneš, and Najm-al-Dīn Rāzī’s Merṣād al-ʿebād by M.-A. Rīāḥī, and the anonymous Eskandar-nāma by Ī. Afšār, ʿĀlamārā-ye Šāh Esmāʿīl by A. Montaẓer-e Ṣāḥeb, Lesān al-tanzīl by M. Moḥaqqeq, and Baḥr al-fawāʾed by M.-T. Dānešpažūh.

5. General knowledge series (Majmūʿa-ye maʿāref-e ʿomūmī, 138 vols.). This primarily consisted of works of popular science. After the series’ initial volumes its general editorship was assumed by Moḥammad Saʿīdī.

6. Bibliographies. Of these, the most important was the Bibliography of Persian Printed Books (Fehrest-e ketābhā-ye čāpī-e fārsī) by Ḵānbābā Mošār. The work was originally compiled at the behest of the Iranian Society of Philosophy and Humanistic Sciences, an affiliate of UNESCO, and at the urging of S. Ḥ. Taqizadeh. The first volume of the Fehrest was published in 1958. A second volume was published in 1963 in which Mošār’s bibliography was supplemented by additions from a number of printed bibliographies, including E. Edwards’ A Catalogue of Persian Printed Books in the British Museum, London, 1922, A. J. Arberry’s Catalogue of the Library of the India Office (Persian Books), London, 1937, and C. A. Storey’s Persian Literature, A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, vol. I, pts. 1 and 2, London, 1937-53, as well as additions provided by Mošār himself. This edition encompassed works published by the end of 1339 Š./1960-61. A second edition was planned some ten years later and was published in three volumes in 1973. This edition accommodated also the annual bibliographies printed in the meantime by the Book Society of Persia (Anjoman-e Ketāb), and extended the scope of the bibliography to the end of 1345 Š./1966-67. (See E. Yarshater’s preface and Ḵ. B. Mošār’s introduction to vol. I of the second edition.)

The second publication in this series was Ketāb šenāsī-e mawżūʿī-e Īrān: sālhā-ye 1343-48 Š., by Ḥ. Banīādam in conjunction with the Book Society of Persia: a thematic bibliography of Persian printed books which contained titles which appeared between 1343-48 Š./1964-70, and was published in 1973. (See E. Yarshater’s preface and Ī. Afšār’s introduction.)

There were several other series such as the Science series, Art series, History series, and Philosophy series, which were begun later and were therefore less developed than the earlier series.

7. Encyclopaedia of Iran and Islam. In 1969, the Institute approved the proposal of its director for translating the second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam into Persian with supplementary articles especially commissioned to expand the entries on Iran. Financial support was sought and received from the Plan Organization. Several scholars, including Jahāngīr Qāʾemmaqāmī, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Moṣāheb, ʿAlī-Naqī Monzawī, Manouchehr Kasheff (Manūčehr Kāšef), Ḥešmat Moʾayyad, and especially Aḥmad Bīrašk, the assistant editor, helped the editor, E. Yarshater, in the resulting Dāneš-nāma-ye Īrān o Eslām (The Encyclopaedia of Iran and Islam). Aḥmad Ārām translated the majority of the articles from EI2. The first fascicle of the Encyclopaedia was published in 1975 with 112 original articles and 99 articles translated from EI2. Other fascicles appeared in succession, up to fascicle 8. Two more fascicles which had been typeset before the 1979 revolution appeared in 1979 and the project came to a standstill in 1980. (See the editor’s introduction to the first fascicle [pp. 9-44] for details of the project.)

Sale of the Institute’s publications. Originally, publications of the Institute were distributed through the booksellers in Tehran and the provinces. In 1968, Mr. Manāfzāda persuaded the Board of Directors to let him have a monopoly on the sale of the books against a guaranteed minimum sum to be paid monthly to the Institute. When Mr. Manāfzāda became entangled in legal problems deriving from other activities and was indicted, one of his associates, M. Kīānpūr, succeeded him as exclusive sales agent for the Institute’s publications. This arrangement, which persisted until 1979, provided the Institute with a steady cash flow, but it made its publications less accessible to the public since the books were generally sold in series and by sales­women and salesmen who received a commission on the sales.

The publications of the Institute, printed normally in 2,000 to 3,000 copies, generally went out of print soon and the Institute could not keep up with demand, partly because the Institute’s printers (chiefly Bank Melli’s printing house and later also Zībā, Bahman, and Offset printers) could not fill the orders, and partly on account of the lack of necessary capital. In 1975, out of some 475 titles, about 325 were out of print. Measures were considered to have the publications printed abroad or have them printed by the holder of the sales monopoly, but none proved practical. Since the Board could neither furnish the capital for reprinting nor would it, as a rule, relinquish the copyright so that authors might have their works reissued by other publishers, the situation caused resentment on the part of some authors and translators. The Institute managed nonetheless to have a number of its publications reprinted, often with revisions. After 1979, however, a fairly large number of the Institute’s publications were reprinted, generally between 7,000 and 20,000 copies for children’s books and 3,000 and 10,000 copies for others.

Publications of the Institute in foreign languages. 1. Persian heritage series (36 titles to date). In 1959, the director of the Institute, at the time a visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University, proposed to start a series devoted to the translation of Persian classics into major Western languages. UNESCO had a similar program for literatures inadequately known in the West and had already started its Collection of Persian Representative Works, but the series had not made much headway. When UNESCO’s relevant department, then headed by Roger Caillois, learned of the Institute’s intention, it suggested that the two programs be merged and be directed by Yarshater. A meeting at UNESCO in 1962, attended by a number of Orientalists including G. Morgenstierne, A. J. Arberry, Henri Massé, G. von Grunebaum, and A. Bausani, Ḡ.-ʿA. Raʿdī (Iranian representative at UNESCO) and UNESCO officials, formalized the agreement concerning the new series, the Persian Heritage Series (q.v.). Financial support was provided by the Institute and to a small extent by UNESCO with Columbia University’s Center for Iranian Studies serving as editorial focus for this and other series in foreign languages published by the Institute. The volumes in this series comprise literary, historical, philosophical, and mystical works, published in English, French, German, Italian, and Japanese. The literary volumes published until 1979 are generally included in UNESCO’s Representative Collection.

Two other series were planned by the Institute under the general editorship of E. Yarshater:

2. Persian studies series consisting of scholarly monographs in Iranian studies (12 vols. published to date) and,

3. Modern Persian literature series for translation of modern Persian writing (8 vols. to date).

4. Encyclopaedia Iranica. In 1972, once the Dāneš­nāma project was launched, Yarshater presented through Columbia University to the National Endowment for the Humanities a proposal for the Ency­clopaedia Iranica, which was conceived as a research tool to be published in English. Amīr ʿAbbās Hoveydā, then the Iranian prime minister, manifested interest in the project and volunteered to provide financial support. Once the necessary approvals were obtained, an application was made by the Institute to the Plan Organization, which financed the project through 1978, when, as a result of the upheavals in Iran, all assistance to the project came to a halt. The project has been supported since chiefly by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

5. Ṭabarǰ translation project. The latest venture of the Institute was to embark on an annotated translation of Ṭabarī’s Taʾrīḵ al-rosol wa’l-molūk (The History of Prophets and Kings). Translation of this work was first suggested to UNESCO by the Institute’s director in 1971 for the consideration of the Arab Commission, which was in charge of all translations for UNESCO’s Arabic Collection. But the Commission favored other priorities, generally of a literary kind, and therefore, with the approval of UNESCO, the Institute undertook to carry out the task. It did not survive, however, to do more than sign the first few contracts. The publication of the History in 40 volumes, including two volumes of indices and excursuses, which began in 1985 after some ten years of preparation, is being carried out outside the framework of the Institute, and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. (See E. Yarshater’s preface and F. Rosenthal’s introduction to vol. I, 1989.)

Discontinuance of the Institute. The Institute was occupied after the 1979 revolution first by the Mojāhedīn-e Ḵalq and eventually by the government, which continued to operate it until 1981 under the original name, publishing some of the books which were in press and adding two new categories, Islamic knowledge (Maʿāref-e eslāmī) and a political series. Its library was expanded by the addition of the library of the Book Society of Persia (q.v.) and the journal Rāhnamā-ye ketāb, both of which were ordered to close down. In 1981, the Institute was merged with some other organizations, notably Bonyād-e Farhang-e Īrān, under the new name of Center of Scientific and Cultural Publications (Markaz-e Entešārāt-e ʿElmī wa Farhangī) and since 1986 under the title of Scientific and Cultural Publication Company (Šerkat-e Entešārāt-e ʿElmī wa Farhangī).



Fehrest-e entešārāt-e Bongāh-e Tarjama wa Našr-e Ketāb (Catalogue of the publications of B.T.N.K.), 1341 Š./1962, enlarged edition 1350 Š./1971.

The latter contains a list of 370 titles with a short description of the various series as well as of each title. Dāneš-nāma-ye Īrān o Eslām I/1, Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.

Rāhnamā-ye Tarjama-ye maqālāt, Teh­ran, 1976.

Persian Heritage Series, Iran Center, Columbia University (a catalogue of the titles in the Persian Heritage Series and the Persian Studies Series). Encyclopaedia Iranica I/1, the editor’s introduction. A listing of the Persian Heritage Series, Persian Studies Series and Modern Persian Literature Series is generally found at the end of the volumes published in each series. Some information was supplied, as indicated in the text, by E. Yarshater.

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 بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب bongah tarjomeh va nashr ketab bongaah tarjomeh va nashr ketaab boungah tarjomeh wa nashre ketab

(Edward Joseph)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 351-355