The First Century of Hungarian Khitanology
(64th Meeting Budapest, 2022)
Hungarian scholarship has traditionally shown a deep interest in East Asian philology, and, as a result, has achieved significant findings in this field. Ever since the first written records of the Khitan (formerly also known as “kitaj” in Hungarian literature) were discovered a hundred years ago, Hungarian philologists have paid particular attention to these discoveries. The first scientific article on the subject in Hungarian was a 1927 study by Lajos (Louis) Ligeti. Ligeti’s students, György Kara and András Róna-Tas also made significant contributions to our knowledge of the Khitan language and writing. In 2015 a research cooperation between the Department of Altaic Studies of the University of Szeged (SZTE) and the Department of Khitanology of the Inner Mongolian University (IMU) was established, which resulted in a continuous scholarly dialogue and numerous joint publications. Parallel to the SZTE-IMU cooperation, a research project called Khi-Land landscapes in Mongolia of the Research Centre for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences started in 2016 together with the Institute of History and Ethnology (until 2019 Institute of History and Archaeology) of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The participants of the project have been researching Khitan cemeteries from the 10ᵗʰ–12ᵗʰ centuries in Mongolia using the most modern landscape archaeological and computer methods, surveying their position in the landscape, as well, as the cultural phenomena connected to them.
In this paper an overview of almost a century of research on the Khitans in Hungary will be presented.