Ahatanhel Krymsky

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Ahatanhel Krymsky
Agatangel Krymskyi.jpg
Native name Агатангел Кримський
Born 15 January [O.S. 3 January] 1871
Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Russian Empire
Died 25 January 1942(1942-01-25) (aged 71)
Kostanay, Kazakh SSR, USSR
Residence Moscow, Kiev
Citizenship Russian EmpireUkraineUSSR
Alma mater Lazarev Institute, Moscow University
Agathangel Krymsky Signature 1922.png

Ahatanhel Yukhymovych Krymsky (Ukrainian: Агатангел Юхимович Кримський, Russian: Агафангел Ефимович Крымский; 15 January [O.S. 3 January] 1871 – 25 January 1942) was an Ukrainian Orientalist, linguist and polyglot (knowing up to 35 languages), literary scholar, folklorist, writer, and translator. He was one of the founders of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) in 1918 and a full member of it and of the Shevchenko Scientific Society from 1903.

Life and career[edit]

Krymsky was born in Volodymyr-Volynskyi to a Lipka Tatar father and an ethnic Polish mother.[1] His family moved soon to Zvenyhorodka in Central Ukraine. His surname "Krymsky" (Ukrainian: Кримський) means "Crimean" and was received by an ancestor in the 17th century who was a Crimean Tatar mullah from Bakhchysaray.[2] He was baptized into Eastern Orthodoxy.[2] Although Ahatanhel had no Ukrainian origin he described himself as "Ukrainophile".[1][2]

Krymsky graduated from Galagan College in Kiev in 1889, from the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in Moscow in 1891, and subsequently from Moscow University in 1896. After graduation, he worked in the Middle East from 1896 to 1898, and subsequently returned to Moscow, where he became a lecturer at the Lazarev Institute, and, in 1900, a professor. Krymsky taught Arabic literature and Oriental history. In Moscow, he was active in the Ukrainian pro-independence movement and was a member of Moscow's Ukrainian Hromada.[2][3]

In July 1918 Krymsky returned to Kiev and took part in the foundation of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (VUAN). Eventually, he became the director of the Academy.[3] He edited 20 of the 25 volumes of Записки Історично-філологічного відділу ("Notes of the History and Philology Department") of the Academy (1920–29) and was a professor at Kiev University as well as the vice-president of the Ukrainian Science Society in Kiev from 1918.

Although Krymsky survived the Great Purge of the 1930s, he was removed from scholarly and teaching activity for about 10 years. In 1939 he was rehabilitated,[3] but in July 1941 after the German-Soviet war began, the NKVD arrested him as "especially unreliable",[2] and deported him to Kostanay in Kazakhstan, where he died at the age of 71. He was finally rehabilitated in 1957.


Krymsky was an expert in up to 34 languages;[3] some sources report that he had at least an average knowledge of 56 languages.[4] Krymsky contributed few hundred entries to the Brockhaus, Efron, and Granat Russian encyclopedias and wrote many other works on Arabic, Turkish, Turkic, Crimean Tatar, and Iranian history and literature, some of which were pioneering textbooks in Russian Oriental studies.

1996 Ukrainian commemorative stamp.

In particular he wrote, in Russian, histories of Islam (1904–12); of the Arabs, Turkey, Persia and their literatures, Dervish theosophy, and a study of the Semitic languages and peoples.[3] In the 1920s and 1930s he also wrote in Ukrainian histories of Turkey and Persia and their literatures; monographs on Hafiz and his songs and on the Turkic peoples, their languages, and literatures; and edited a collection of articles on the Crimean Tatars. With O. Boholiubsky he wrote a study of Arab higher education and the Arabian Academy of Sciences. During the last years of his life he wrote a six-volume history of the Khazars, which was never published.[3]

Krymsky researched the history of the Ukrainian language. As he was an opponent of Aleksei Sobolevsky's claim that the language of the ancient Kyivan Rus’ was more Russian, than Ukrainian,[2] he wrote three polemical studies in 1904-07 on this question, later his views on the language of the Kyivan Rus were summarized in Українська мова, звідкіля вона взялася і як розвивалася ("The Ukrainian Language: Whence It Came and How It Developed"). Krymsky researched Ukrainian dialects and was actively involved in the work of standardizing the vocabulary and orthography of literary Ukrainian in the 1920s. In this activity he rejected the Galician orthographic tradition. He was the editor of the first two vols of the four-volume Russian-Ukrainian dictionary (1924–33) and of the Russian-Ukrainian dictionary of legal language (1926).[3]

Krymsky wrote three books of lyrical poetry and some novellas, and translated many Arabic and Persian literary works into Ukrainian, including The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, One Thousand and One Nights, and Hafez's songs. He also translated the poetry of European writers such as Heinrich Heine, Byron, Sappho, Friedrich Rückert. He published articles and reviews on Ukrainian writers, their works and on Ukrainian theater.[3]

As an ethnographer, Krymsky was an adherent of migration theory. He translated into Ukrainian and annotated W.A. Clouston's Popular Tales and Fictions (1896) and also wrote many Orientalist works and articles about Ukrainian ethnographers.




  • (in Ukrainian) Гурницький, К. Кримський як історик (Київ, 1971)
  • Скокан, К.; Деркач, Н.; Ісаєва, Н,; Мартиненко, Г. Агатангел Кримський: Бібліографічний покажчик (1889–1971) (Київ, 1972)
  • Білодід, І. Агатангел Кримський — україніст та орієнталіст (Київ, 1974)
  • Павличко, Соломея. Націоналізм, сексуальність, орієнталізм: Складний світ Агатангела Кримського (Київ, 2000)
  • Babyshkin, O. Ahatanhel Kryms’kyi: Literaturnyi portret (Kiev 1967)
  • Krymsky's works in E-library "Chtyvo"