Beginnings of the PIAC (P. Aalto, 1998)

(p. 11, Writing in the Altaic World. Papers Presented at the 41st Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC), Held at Majvik Castle, Kyrkslätt, Finland on July 5 to 10, 1998. Ed. by Juha Janhunen and Volker Rybatzki. (Helsinki, 1999). Finnish Oriental Society, Studia Orientalia, Vol. 87.)

At the 1957 Congress of Orientalists in Munich there also was a possibility for the Altaistic studies to be presented. The section for these studies had, however, so few participants that the President, Professor von Gabain, asked me to improvise a ‘lecture’ about my travel in Mongolia earlier that summer. The visitors in Mongolia from the western countries were relatively few in those times. In spite of the relatively few participants, Professor Walther Heissig made in the section a proposal that there should be a special ‘gremium’ for the Altaistic studies. Although the Congress seemed rather to speak against any such need, the majority seconded his proposal. Heissig during the following winter conjured up money as by magic, so that he was able to call the first session of the ‘Gremium’, viz. of the PIAC, in the Max Planck Institute of the Mainz Academy of Sciences. Though there in the beginning was a lot of discussion about the name of the new PIAC, viz. was it possible [to] use the adjective ‘Altaic’, though nobody wanted any more to place the original home of these peoples in the Altai, or was it permissible to speak of a ‘permanent’ Conference, this name has been used for forty years. The number of participants has continuously grown, and at the same time, the number of publications and journals also has grown so that one does not remember even the most important among them.