Mongolian Fragments in Joseph Nicolas Delisle (1688-1768)’s Papers
in the French National Archives
Joseph Nicolas Delisle (1688-1768) was a French map-maker and astronomer who lived in Saint Petersburg from 1726 to 1747, becoming a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and working on the preparation of a map of the Russian Empire until suspicions that he was acting as a spy and had sent preliminary maps to France led to his exclusion from the project. In 1740 he travelled to Siberia. Amongst his papers, now held in the Naval Collection of the French National Archives, are his notes on his travels and also three Mongolian and five Tibetan fragments, including a fragment of Ligdan Khan’s Mongolian Kanjur, fragments of which are also held in Saint Petersburg (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts), in the Bayer Collection of Glasgow University’s Hunterian Library, in Linköping in Sweden (collection of J. G. Renat, a Swedish officer in Siberia between 1716 and 1734), and in Wolfenbüttel (Herzog August Bibliothek) in Germany. This paper presents the Mongolian fragments in Delisle’s papers, and a preliminary analysis of the Kanjur fragment.