Some Notes on Central Asian Studies. A “Confession ” by H. Walravens.

Some Notes on Central Asian Studies.
A “Confession ” by H. Walravens.

Received by the PIAC 02/26/02

One of the prominent features of PIAC Meetings are the confessions, round robin fashion reports on the participants on their current work. The following notes contain some of the author’s sins (1998-2002) – if they are not forgiven they may contribute to unexpected cooperation and a better exchange of information.

[ed.] Wolfgang Seuberlich (1906–1985). Ostasienwissenschaftler und Bibliothekar. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin 1998. 125 pp. The editor contributed: 5-6 Vorbemerkung, 5-30 Schriftenverzeichnis W Seuberlich. The little volume consists of personal recollections and appreciations of this scholar who for many years headed the East Asian Department of the Berlin State Library, currently Germany’s largest library. Seuberlich grew up in Harbin and was fluent in Russian and Chinese; he also had a good command of Japanese. His doctoral thesis submitted to Berlin University in 1943 seemed to have been lost during the destruction of WW II; fortunately, a copy was rediscovered at Berlin University Library, and as the author never managed to revise it, it was published as it was – only the transliteration system was switched to Pinyin and some formal editing was, of course, necessary. Even after more than fifty years, Seuberlich’s thesis is valuable as (at least in Western languages) nobody has ventured upon an administrative history of Manchuria:

[ed.] Wolfgang Seuberlich: Zur Verwaltungsgeschichte der Mandschurei (1644–1930).Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. 123 pp. (Asien- und Afrika-Studien der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.7.)

1998 was the 60th anniversary of the death of Peter Schmidt, the eminent Latvian sinologist, Altaist and folkorist. Jelena Staburowa, Head of Oriental Studies at Riga University, organized a conference in his honour, the papers of which will hopefully be published some day. The present author’s contribution dealt with Schmidt’s relationship with Berthold Läufer (1874–1934) and Erwin von Zach (1872–1942), both of them eminent Manchurists. Schmidt was professor of Chinese and Manchu at the Oriental Institute in Vladivostok, and after the establishment of an independent Latvian state became professor of ethnography at Riga University.1 Two little papers deal with other aspects of Schmidt’s work and are therefore only mentioned as footnotes:

Aus China, Lettland und Berlin. Mitteilungsblatt. Deutsche China-Gesellschaft e.V. 1998:2, S. 16–21 [On a Berlin copy of the Chinese Encyclopaedia Gujin tushu jicheng, based on Schmidt’s translation of an article in the Berlin Vossische Zeitung.] — Die ersten Übersetzungen chinesischer Lyrik ins Lettische. Mitteilungsblatt. Deutsche China-Gesellschaft. 2001/1, 36-39 [Schmidt turns out to be the first translator of classical Chinese poetry into Latvian.]

Among the excellent collections of the Wolfenbüttel Library (which boasts, among others, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), the German dramatist, among its librarians) has a small but interesting Manchu collection. It was first described in Walter Fuchs’ landmark catalogue Chinesische und mandjurische Handschriften und seltene Drucke (Wiesbaden 1966) and then in the present author’s China illustrata, a 1987 exhibition catalogue. The earlier notes were revised and became part of a short catalogue of Wolfenbüttel’s collection of Chinese books:

Die Wolfenbütteler Sinica-Sammlung. Wolfenbütteler Beiträge. 11.1998, 145–172. The collection contains four volumes of a rare Ming edition of Lieguo zhizhuan the description of which offered an occasion to look at an existing Manchu version (in manuscript; the translation was never printed): «Die Geschichte der verschiedenen Reiche [Lieguo zhizhuan]». Anmerkungen zur Rezeption eines chinesischen Romans in Deutschland. Mit 5 Abb. Aus dem Antiquariat 1999, A9-16.

The rise of Chinese and Manchu Studies in Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries are closely connected with the collections of books and manuscripts in these languages. In spite of the fact that a number of catalogues were prepared, and some also published, it s still difficult to decide which books and which editions scholars had at their disposal. Two articles focus on an analysis of the available catalogues (Bacmeister, Leont’ev, Klaproth, and Kamenskij/Lipovcov), with Chinese characters added whenever possible: Chinesische und mandjurische Bücher in St. Petersburg im 18. Jahrhundert. Monumenta Serica 46.1998, 397–418. Der Bücherkatalog von Kamenskij und Lipovcov. Ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte von Sinologie und Mandjuristik in Rußland. ZDMG 151. 2001, 367–406.

Julius Klaproth who, with Abel Rémusat, may justly be considered the father of East Asian Studies in the modern scholarly sense, was indeed an outstanding and industrious researcher. While he did not teach (despite the fact that he was appointed Professor of Asian Languages at Bonn University in 1816) but preferred to work in Paris where he was one of the founding members of the Société asiatique and a frequent contributor to the Journal asiatique, he did not found a school. His main interests were history and geography of East and Central Asia, and there are more than 300 publications to his credit, a number of them on Manchu Studies. So far three volumes of a documentation list his published and unpublished works (vol. 1.), print his correspondence (vol. 2), and give details on some scholars with whom Klaproth worked (vol. 3); surprisingly enough, there was no satisfactory bibliography of the publications of Abel Remusat, and therefore such a list was included in vol. 3. Julius Klaproth (1783–1835). Leben und Werk. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999. X, 230 pp.(Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen.3.) Julius Klaproth (1783–1835): Briefe und Dokumente. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999. 235 pp. (Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen. 4.) Zur Geschichte der Ostasienwissenschaften in Europa. Abel Remusat (1788–1832) und das Umfeld Julius Klaproths (1783–1835). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999. 183 pp. (Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen.5.) Vol. 4, containing correspondence files in the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, is ready for the press.

Ferdinand Lessing, Curator at the Berlin Museum of Ethnology and subsequently Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is best known for the Mongolian-English Dictionary, still the standard work in its field. While he considered dictionary work just “Brotarbeit” he worked indefatigably on a description of the famous Peking Lama temple Yonghegong. The complete work – had it ever seen the light of day, would have comprised five volumes: a veritable encyclopaedia of Lamaistic cults and rituals. Unfortunately, only volume 1 was published (Stockholm 1942), and the whereabouts of the ms. of vol. 2 are not known. Lessing was a personal friend of the explorer Sven Hedin whose expedition he had belonged to for some years (1930-1933). Some letters were published in the festschrift for Manfred Taube: Ferdinand Lessing und Sven Hedin. Briefe aus dem Jahre 1931 zur Forschungsarbeit in der Mongolei und China. Studia Tibetica et mongolica (Festschrift Manfred Taube). Redigenda curaverunt Helmut Eimer, Michael Hahn, Maria Schetelich et Peter Wyzlic. Swisttal-Odendorf: Indica et Tibetica Verlag, 1999 (India et tibetica.34.), 307-322. The complete correspondence with Hedin, reports to the Berlin Museum, a revised list of publications etc. form the following volume: Ferdinand Lessing (1882–1961), Sinologe, Mongolist und Kenner des Lamaismus. Materialien zu Leben und Werk, mit dem Briefwechsel mit Sven Hedin. Osnabrück: Zeller Verlag, 2000. 425 pp.

Lessing was for a few years coeditor of the Ostasiatische Zeitschrift which contains a number of articles and reviews on Central Asian Studies. The following bibliography provides better access to this important journal: Ostasiatische Zeitschrift (1912–1943), Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst (1926–1943). Bibliographie und Register. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000. XIII, 206 pp. (Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen. 10.)

Another journal indispensable for Central Asian specialists is ZAS, the contents of which were analysed in a way similar to Ostasiatische Zeitschrift: Zentralasiatische Studien des Seminars für Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft Zentralasiens der Universität Bonn (ZAS). Bibliographie und Register (1967–1998). Berlin: Staatsbibliothek, 1999. 94 pp. (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Neuerwerbungen der Ostasienabteilung. Sonderheft 2.) The bibliography was updated in the meantime to cover all 30 volumes published; individual copies are available free of charge from the Berlin State Library.

An imperial collection of generals’ seals from the Peking Historical Archives was published some years ago in an edition of 100 copies. This publication seems to be virtually unknown, and therefore it was made the subject of a presentation at the Helsinki PIAC meeting: Eine kaiserliche Siegelsammlung in chinesischer und mandjurischer Sprache. Studia Orientalia 87.1999, 275–297.

Martin Gimm, Professor of Chinese and Manchu Studies at the University of Cologne, was honoured by a Festschrift on his 65th birthday; unfortunately its publication was delayed; the splendid volume contains some contributions on Manchu subjects. The present author is responsible for the list of publications which is, in the meantime, in need of an update. He gratefully acknowledges information received from his colleagues and from Prof. Gimm himself.

Ad Seres et Tungusos. Festschrift für Martin Gimm zu seinem 65.Geburtstag am 25.Mai 1995. Hrsg, von Lutz Bieg, Erling von Mende und Martina Siebert. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2000. (Opera

XXIII-XLI Schriftenverzeichnis Martin Gimm in chronologischer Anordnung. 423–439 Schriftenverzeichnis Lin Qiusheng [Mr. Lin lived in Germany as a Kuomintang representative and was an industrious writer; the article deals with his activities in Germany.]

A bibliographical survey of Christian material in Manchu was – just by accident – paralleled by a similar article by Prof. Stary published in CAJ. While dealing with the same material, the focus is different, and both contributions are to a large degree complementary: Christian literature of the Manchus. Some bibliographic notes Monumenta Serica 48.2000, 445–469.

While “Pelliot” is a household word in East and Central Asian Studies, there was so far no bibliography of Pelliot’s many publications. Professor Denis Sinor was kind enough to arrange for the inclusion of this bibliography in IU’s Oriental Series. Paul Pelliot (1878-1945). His life and works – a bibliography. Bloomington, IN: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 2001. XXXV, 248 pp. (Indiana University Oriental Series.9.)

One of the most prolific and most modest orientalists of the 19th century was Wilhelm Schott, Professor of Asian Languages at the University of Berlin and member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Privatdozent for Oriental Studies (Arabic, Turkish, Persian), he was self-taught in Chinese and Manchu, and became a leading specialist on Finnish and Hungarian. Unlike most of his colleagues he was a serious linguist, and to this day, many of his publications are well worth reading, among them five volumes of Altaische Studien – he was one of the fathers of the Altaic Theory. He also taught Mongolian and Tibetan as well as Chagatay. One of his better known students was Bernhard Jülg; and Józef Kowalewski who held the first chair of Mongolian Studies (in Kazan) was pleased to communicate that his works (especially his Mongol’skaja xrestomatija) were used for teaching at Berlin University. Wilhelm Schott (1802-1889). Leben und Wirken des Orientalisten. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. 220 pp. (Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen. 13.) The volume contains also Schott’s translations from Kowalewski’s xrestomatija as well as Eerö Salmelainen’s Suomen kansan satuja ja tarinoita. Some documents on Schott’s career were published earlier: Wilhelm Schott und die Königliche Bibliothek. Scrinium Berolinense. Tilo Brandis zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: Staatsbibliothek, 2000, 577-594. Karl May (1842-1912) has been one of Germany’s most popular authors, and generations of boys devoured his adventurous novels set mostly among the Red Indians in North America and the Near East. One story from China surprises the reader by explanations of the Chinese and Manchu names of rifles and other weapons. It turns out that May borrowed this information from a note by Schott in Magazin für die Literatur des Auslandes; so he did not have any deeper knowledge of Manchu: Karl May als Mandschurist? Mitteilungen der Karl-May-Gesellschaft 128 (Juni) 2001, 13–15.

For a while Konstantin Jachontov was active in describing the holdings of Manchu collections in various places in the Soviet Union, e.g. Vilnius, Irkutsk, and Leningrad. For understandable reasons it was difficult to get the catalogue of the Manchu books at St. Petersburg published in Russia. The present writer translated the book from the manuscript into German, but unfortunately the catalogue saw the light of day only ten years later, when the progress of computer technology made it easy to include Chinese characters in a suitable form: K. S. Jachontov: Katalog der mandjurischen Handschriften und Blockdrucke in den Sammlungen der Bibliothek der Orientalischen Fakultät der Sankt-Petersburger Universität. Aus dem russischen Manuskript übersetzt und herausgegeben. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. 197 pp. (Orientalistik Bibliographien und Dokumentationen. 14.) Albert Grünwedel (1856-1935), Director of the Indian Department of the Berlin Museum of Ethnology, became famous as the leader of two of the four Prussian expeditions to Turfan, besides being one of the pioneers in Tibetan Studies. His correspondence with several scholars, especially his teacher, the Indologist Ernst Kuhn, throws some light on life and works of this gifted and controversial scholar: Albert Grünwedel: Briefe und Dokumente. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. XXXVI, 206 pp. (Asien- und Afrika-Studien der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.9.)

ICANAS 1997 in Budapest included a panel of Altaists on the role of the fox in Central and East Asia. The proceedings of this panel, enriched by some additional contributions by scholars who were not able to participate in the event, is finally being published in two volumes, [ed.]

Der Fuchs in Kultur, Religion und Folklore Zentral- und Ostasiens. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. X, 203 S. (Asiatische Forschungen. 141) Contents:

  • H. Walravens: Der Fuchs in Zentral- und Ostasien – und anderwärts. Eine Auswahlbibliographie.
  • W. Heissig: Marginalien zur Fuchsgestalt in der mongolischen Überlieferung.
  • Á. Birtalan: A survey of the fox in Mongolian folklore and folk belief.
  • J. Coloo: Incense offering of the fox in Oirat script.
  • A. Särközi, A. G. Sazykin: An incense offering of the fox.
  • E. Taube: Der Fuchs. Von der altaituwinischen Tradition zum zentralasiatisch-sibirischen Kontext.
  • C. Römer: The fox in Turkic proverbs.
  • K. Uray-Köhalmi: Der Fuchs und seine Doppelgänger in der Folklore der tungusischen Völker.
  • G. Stary: The fox in Sibe-Manchu culture.
  • F. A. Bischoff: Sex tricks of Chinese fox-fiends.
  • D. Kehren: The fox in the early period of China. Text and representations.
  • E. von Mende: Warum brach man dem Fuchs das Genick?
  • H. Walravens: Bibliographie der Liao-chai chih-i 聊齋志異Übersetzungen.
  • S. Scholz-Cionca: Fuchsgestalten im frühen Kyōgen.

I. J. Schmidt, pioneer Mongolist and Tibetologist, was a fascinating personality. Member of the community of the Moravian Brethren at Sarepta, he started his scholarly activities by translating parts of the Bible into Kalmuk, then published a Mongolian grammar and a Mongolian dictionary, translated Sagang Secen’s History of the Eastern Mongols, and edited and translated the Geser saga. Based on Csoma’s work, he also published a Tibetan dictionary and a Tibetan grammar. A revised bibliography of Schmidt’s publications (including Schmidt’s prefaces and explanations) was dedicated to Prof. Barbara Kellner-Heinkele on the occasion of her 60th birthday. Only 6 copies were published. Isaak Jakob Schmidt (1779–1847); Schriftenverzeichnis. Berlin: Staatsbibliothek, 2002. 71 pp. 4°

Work in progress comprises a short biography of Albert Regel (1845–1905), son of the director of the St. Petersburg Botanical Garden, Eduard Regel. Albert R. won the acclaim of geographers and explorers by the reports on his travels in Central Asia. So he is credited to be the first Westerner to have visited Turfan, after the Jesuit Bento de Gois. To be published in Neue Deutsche Biographie. Russische Ärzte bei der Russischen Geistlichen Mission P. E. Skačkov’s classic article on the subject in German translation. Several of the physicians were also proficient in Manchu, like Osip Vojcexovskij who held a chair of Chinese and Manchu at Kazan University. Accepted for CAJ. M. P. Volkova: Manchu Studies at the Asiatic Museum. Translation of this brief historical sketch for ZAS 31. The De Harlez/Bang controversy. Paper given at the Maastricht PIAC, which focused on C. de Harlez and W Bang, the founding fathers of Altaic Studies in Belgium. A Manchu gynecology. Paper given at the Walberberg PIAC. The original unique blockprint (single known copy at the Institut Vostokovedenija, St. Petersburg) was already published in 1810 by Joseph Rehmann, physician to the Czar, in German translation. It shows a very modern approach to birth and child care.

Joseph Rock [1884–1962]: Berichte, Briefe und Dokumente. Correspondence of the well-known traveller, botanist, and Naxi researcher with fellow botanists, but also with the Harvard-Yenching Institute; including a revised bibliography of Rock’s publications, reproduction of newspaper articles on him, and his own reports on his botanical work in Hawaii. To be published by Steiner, Stuttgart. Joseph Rock: Von Cho-ni nach rGyu-par 1926. This volume contains a description of Rock’s trip to the Amnye Machen mountain as given in his letters to C. S. Sargent, Director of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, as well as his field notes. To be published by Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. Von Rußland über die Mongolei nach China. Collection of Russian reports on the trip from Russia to Mongolia and China, chiefly from the first half of the 19th century. All texts were published in German (translation) but are very little known as most of them are not listed in bibliographies. Among the authors are J. Kowalewski, Iakinf (Bichurin), Alexander Bunge, and the pseudonymous De Ming whose identity was established thirty years ago in an article by Boris Riftin et al. To be published by Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.

A volume containing the collected reviews by Erwin von Zach (1872-1942), including many Manchu glosses, is still awaiting publication, as the publisher who was willing to publish it, sold his company …

1For a bibliography of his writings see Peter Schmidt, Ostienwissenschaftler, Linguist and Folklorist. Ein vorläufige Bibliographie. Florilega manjurica in memoriam Walter Fuchs. Wiesbaden 1982, 106–185.

(Source: Permanent International Altaistic Conference Newsletter No. 27, October 2002, pp. 10–13)