IIS-sponsored students Umed Bulbulshoev, Shamshod Zoolshoeva, Saodatsho Matrobov and Sarkor Sarkorov successfully completed their post-graduate studies from the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Saint Petersburg University, focusing on aspects of Pamiri culture and linguistics. They have been awarded a ‘Candidate of Sciences’ which can be equated to a PhD in the western academic context.

The students’ research contributes to scholarship on Tajik Ismailis and a better understanding of the ethno-linguistic features of the inhabitants of the Pamirs.

Umed Bulbulshoev explored the Anthropo-toponymy (names of geographic locations) of the western Pamir region, focusing on the Shohdara valley in Badakhshan. Through examining the names of places, such as shrines, settlements, and springs, he was able to provide details of their historical and cultural significance.

Shamshod Zoolshoeva conducted a study on the symbolic meaning of colour in various Pamiri languages. Her study illustrates aesthetic and artistic features of the people through their attitude towards colours and their use of various colours in creative activities such as traditional embroidery.

Saodatsho Matrobov, in his study on traditional games of the Wakhan People, explored the popular ceremonies associated with games and entertainments, analysing the linguistic aspects of this tradition, in a field called ethnographism. His research traced the historical roots of the definitions of popular games in the Wakhan region of Badakhshan.

Sarkor Sarkorov’s study entitled ‘Ethnolinguistic Characteristics of Rushanis’ is based on the archives of the famous Russian scholar and founder of Pamiri studies Ivan Zarubin who collected a considerable amount of data on the ethnography of the Pamiri people in the beginning of the 20th century. This study makes available to the academic community the previously unexplored manuscripts and sheds light on some aspects of the history of the Pamiri people at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

The students were supervised by Professor Ivan Mikhailovich Steblin-Kamenskiy, the Head of the Department of Iranian Languages at Saint Petersburg University. The graduates have since joined various academic institutions in Tajikistan and Russia to further their academic careers.

Saint Petersburg University and its Institute of Oriental Studies is a leading institute in Russia in Oriental Studies. The interest in Pamiri and Ismaili studies commenced at the IOS with the works of I. Zarubin, A. Bartold, Professor A. Semyonov and others at the beginning of the 20th century. Their works were well acknowledged by a pioneer of modern Ismaili studies, Vladimir Ivanov, who also graduated from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Saint Petersburg.