Monthly Archives: August 2016

Obituary: Igor de Rachewiltz (1929–2016)

Igor de Rachewiltz, April 11, 1929 – July 30, 2016, of Italy, born in Rome to a family with Longobard and Tatar ancestry, started his academic career with law, yet soon switched to Oriental studies (Naples, Italy) and earned his PhD in Australia (Australian National University, Canberra) in 1961. His subject at that time nominally was Chinese history, but his perception of the subject was much broader and shifted to Mongolia. If, in any conceivable case, there were an idea of something like a last word in science, then his acclaimed translation of “The Secret History of the Mongols” (published over 14 years from 1971 to 1985, and finally published in one piece 2004) deserves this merit.

Being an occasional contributor to the PIAC, he enjoyed the command of a renaissance mind enlightened and honed by a unique combination of Western and Oriental civilizations; thus he was able to combine fields seemingly widely apart into one treatise, like the title of his paper of 1985 “Dante’s Aleppe: A Tartar Word in Tartarus?” demonstrates. He was awarded the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies in 2004.

Those who had the priviledge to meet him praise his charming and warm-hearted personality. He never really could hide his youthful curiosity and humour, making conversations with him a lasting memory.


Oliver Corff, August 19th, 2016.

Obituary: Charles Roskelly Bawden (1924–2016)

Charles Roskelly Bawden FBA (22 April 1924 – 11 August 2016), Emeritus Professor of Mongolian, University of London, died after short illness, aged 92. He was an outstanding scholar whose research on Mongolia encompassed a broad range of subjects from medieval history to contemporary affairs, both religious and worldly, like “The modern history of Mongolia” (1968, 2nd rev. ed. 1989). He edited and published numerous classical Mongolian texts, like Lomi’s “Mongġol borǰigid oboġ-un teüke” of 1732 (with Walther Heissig, published 1957) and also wrote about philological issues, e.g. “Mongolian in Tibetan Script” (1960). Perhaps his most famous, and most read, yet probably not necessarily most frequently quoted work is the “Mongolian-English Dictionary” (published 1997). Besides these works, he also compiled an anthology of Mongolian traditional literature (2003) and continued to publish until just a few years ago.

A graduate student of Denis Sinor in Cambridge and a personal friend of Walther Heissig, he was an active participant in the early years of the PIAC who participated in virtually every meeting between 1958 and 1966. He was awarded the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies in 2012, a late acknowledgement of his lifelong contributions to the broader field of Mongolian and Inner Asian studies.


Oliver Corff, August 19th, 2016.