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History of Tangut Studies at the IOM Print E-mail

Tangut Studies at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts

Tangut studies (research into the writing system, texts, language, history and culture of Tanguts or Minyags and their State, Xi Xia, 982–1227) were inherited by the Institute from the Asiatic Museum of the RAS, which was augmented by the collection of written documents on the extinct Tangut (Xi Xia) language found by colonel P.K. Kozlov in the dead city of Khara-Khoto on the southern edge of the Gobi desert near the dried up mouth of the river Edzin-gol (now the Edzina aimak, Inner Mongolia, CPR). After the Institute of Oriental Studies was founded in 1930 the collection was studied by Dr N.A. Nevsky who had come back from Japan in 1929. He carried on his work until 1937 when he was repressed, arrested and then executed. In the post-war period at the end of the 1950s, papers by Dr N. Nevsky on Tangut studies, kept at his personal archives, were edited by a fellow of the Institute Z. Gorbacheva and issued as a monograph: N. Nevsky. Tangut Philology. Research and Dictionary in 2 Volumes [Тангутская филология. Исследование и словарь в двух книгах]. Мoscow 1960.

The initial work on processing and numbering of the collection, carried out by the beginning of the 1960s by N. Nevsky, A. Dragunov, Z. Gorbacheva and Ye. Kychanov, resulted in the first cataloguem, containing detailed data on the Tangut documents:

Z.I. Gorbacheva, Ye.I. Kychanov. Tangut Manuscripts and Block-Prints. The List of Identified and Attributed Tangut Manuscripts and Block-Prints Kept at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Asian Peoples [Тангутские рукописи и ксилографы. Список отождествленных и определенных тангутских рукописей и ксилографов Ленинградского отделения Института народов Азии АН СССР]. Moscow 1963.

In this catalogue only secular documents were described. Buddhist texts were given as a list with the inventory numbers, without any description. Later, in 1999 there was issued —

The Catalogue of Tangut Buddhist Texts Kept at the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences [Каталог тангутских буддийских памятников Института востоковедения Российской Академии Наук]. Compiled by Ye.I.Kychanov. Introduction by T.Nishida. Edited by S. Arakawa. Kyoto University 1999.

At the beginning of the 1960s at the Department of Far Eastern Studies the Tangut Group was set up under Ye.I. Kychanov, with the intention of accelerating the study of the Tangut documents. It included also K.B. Kepping, V.S. Kolokolov and A.P. Terentiev-Katansky. The scholars had both common and individual researches. The common work resulted in the translation and edition of the Tangut Tangut dictionary The Sea of Writings

The Sea of Writings. Facsimile edition of the Tangut block-prints [Море писмен. Факсимиле тангутских ксилографов]. Tr. from Tangut, introductory papers and appendices by K.B. Kepping, V.S. Kolokolov, Ye.I. Kychanov and A.P. Terentiev-Katansky. Pt. 1. The Sea Of Writings [«Море письмен»], Pt. 2. The Sea of Writings, Mixed Categories [«Море письмен, смешанные категории»]. Moscow 1969. [Pismennye pamyatniki Vostoka, XXV].

The second common aim was to prepare, in cooperation with a group of scientists from the Institute of Mathematics with V. Ustinov as its head, the text of the Tangut translation of the Chinese military treatise Sun Tzu for the machine translation. The work, though, was stopped on halfway due to some personal objections from both sides.

The Institute’s scholars aimed at the extensive study of the Tangut writings, and first of all, Ye.I.Kychanov and K.B.Kepping shared results of their work with M.V. Sofronov, a scholar from Moscow, who tried to make a phonetic reconstruction of the Tangut (Xi Xia) language. Their cooperation brought about the following monographs:

M.V.Sofronov, Ye.I.Kychanov. The Studies on Tangut Phonetics [Исследования по фонетике тангутского языка
]. Мoscow 1963. As M.V. Sofronov wrote later, “I was responsible for the linguistic part of the work, while Ye.I.Kychanov for the paleographic one”.

In 1968 M.V.Sofronov published another book —

M.V.Sofronov. The Grammar of Tangut. In two parts. Materials for the phonetic reconstruction [Грамматика тангутского языка. Книга 1. Книга 2. Материалы для фонетической реконструкции]. Мoscow 1968.

V.S.Kolokolov, being an expert on Classical Chinese texts, was invited to prepare the edition of their Tangut translations. It resulted in the monograph edited together with Ye.I.Kychanov:

Chinese Classics in the Tangut translations (Lun Yu. Meng Zi. Xiao zing) [Китайская классика в тангутском переводе (Лунь юй. Мэн цзы. Сяо цзин)]. Fascimile edition with the introduction, dictionary and indices by V.S.Kolokolov and Ye.I.Kychanov. Moscow 1996 [Pismennye pamyatniki Vostoka IV].

The philologist K.B.Kepping had to study the Grammar of Tangut. For this purpose she used the Tangut translation of the Chinese military treatise Sun Tzu. Both the text and research were published as a monograph —

”Sun Tzu” in the Tangut Translation [Сунь-цзы в тангутском переводе]. The facsimile edition with the translation, introduction, grammatical sketch, dictionary and appendices by K.B.Kepping. Moscow 1979 [Pismennye pamyatniki Vostoka, ХLIХ].

Her research into the Grammar of Tangut was summarised in the monograph —

K.B.Kepping. The Tangut Language. Morphology [Тангутский язык. Морфология]. Moscow 1985.

A.P.Terentiev-Katansky selected for his study the way Tangut book represent Tangut culture, including material culture. He published a few monographs such as:

A.P.Terentiev-Katansky. The Book Culture in the State of the Tanguts [Книжное дело в государстве тангутов]. Мoscow 1985.

A.P.Terentiev-Katansky. From the East to the West. From the History of the Book Culture and Book Printing in the countries of Central Asia from the 8th to 13th centuries [С Востока на Запад. Из истории книги и книгопечатания в странах Цетральной Азии VIII – XIII вв.]. Moscow 1990 [Kultura narodov Vostoka. Materialy i issledovania].

A.P.Terentiev-Katansky. Material Culture of Hsi Hsia [Материальная культура Си Ся]. Moscow 1993 (Kultura narodov Vostoka).

Ye.I. Kychanov studied the history of Xi Xia and edited some Tangut texts, presumably not translated from Chinese. In 1969 he published a monograph —

Ye.I. Kychanov. The Brief History of the Tangut State [Очерк истории тангутского государства]. Мoscow 1969.

Efforts of all the three scholars were united in the aim of an edition of the written heritage of the Tanguts.

Thus, K.B. Kepping, in addition of the Sun Tzu treatise, published:

”The Forest of Categories” — the Lost Chinese Lei Shu in the Tangut Translation [«Лес категорий» — утраченная китайская лэйшу в тангутском переводе]. The facsimile edition, introduction, translation, notes and indices by K.B.Kepping. Moscow 1983 [Pismennye pamyatniki Vostoka, ХХХVIII].

The Newly-Assembled Notes on Love for the Juniors and Respect for the Seniors. The last juan [Вновь собранные записи о любви к младшим и почтении к старшим. Последняя цзюань]. The facsimile edition, introduction, translation, and notes. The Appendix: The Tangut Family System [Система родства тангутов]. Moscow 1990.

In 2002 the following monograph by A.P. Terentiev-Katansky was posthumously published:

The Mixed Signs /of the Three Parts of the World/ [Смешанные знаки /трех частей мироздания/]. The facsimile edition, introduction, translation by A.P. Terentiev-Katansky, edited by M.V. Sofronov. The reconstruction of the text, introduction, research and notes by M.V. Sofronov. Moscow 2002 [Pismennye pamyatniki Vostoka, CXXI].

Ye.I.Kychanov edited:

The Newly-Assembled Precious Dual Maxims [Вновь собранные драгоценные парные изречения]. Facsimile edition, translation by Ye.I.Kychanov with the introduction and notes. Moscow 1974. 224 p. (Pamyatniki pismennosti Vostoka, ХL.)

The Revised and Newly Endorsed Code for the Designation of Reign ‘Celestial Prosperity’ (1149-69) [Изменённый и заново утверждённый кодекс девиза царствования: Небесное процветание (1149-1169)]. In 4 vols, ed. by Ye.I.Kychanov. Vol. 1: Research. Vol. 3: Facsimile edition, translation, notes (chapters 1-7). Vol. 3: Facsimile edition, translation, notes (chapters 8-12). Vol. 4: Facsimile edition, translation, notes (chapters 13-20). Moscow 1987-89. (Pamyatniki pismennosti Vostoka, LXXXI).

The Sea of Meanings, Established by the Saints [Море значений, установленных святыми]. Facsimile edition, translation, introduction, notes and appendices by Ye.I.Kychanov. St Petersburg 1997.

The Note At the Altar of the Pacification of Confucius [Записки у алтаря примирения Конфуция]*. Facsimile edition, translation, introduction and notes by Ye.I.Kychanov. Moscow 2000. (Pamyatniki pismennosti Vostoka, CXVII).

* It was later ascertained by Ne Huning that the title was translated in a wrong way. The right title should be — The Note At the Altar Where Confucius Played Qin [Записки у алтаря, где Конфуций играл на цине].

Finally, the younger scholar K.Yu.Solonin (currently at St Petersburg University) edited the following text —

The Twelve Kingdoms [Двенадцать царств]. Facsimile edition, translation, introduction, notes, plates and index by K.Yu.Solonin. St Petersburg 1995.

Prof Dr Ye. I. Kychanov

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