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Meeting of the Academic Council - April 8, 2009 Print E-mail

On April 8, 2009, at the meeting of the Academic Council Dr George-Marie Pinault (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, IV section) gave a report entitled The Current Situation of the Study of Tokharian Documents, the paper was given in English.

Abstract of the paper:

  • The subject is the history and current situation of the study of Tokharian manuscripts. They first appeared as a result of German expeditions from the end of the 19th century, and the S.Th.Oldenburg expeditions. Many of the texts found were hard to read and interpret. The area around the Taklamakan Desert, the Tarim Basin, Kucha was a place where many texts in various Eastern languages were discovered.
  • The systematic study of the Tokharian languages which were once in use north of the Taklamakan Desert began during the 1910s. Thanks to the German scholar Emile Sieg and his colleagues the Tokharian language was identified and then divided into Tokharian A and Tokharian B. Research into ethnic and linguistic history of the region resulted in the understanding that Tokharian A and Tokharian B differed in their phonetics. 
  • The manuscripts were made on both paper and wooden tablets. There are mostly Buddhist texts but some of the mss belong to Manicheanism. There are also many letters and economical documents. 
  • Most of the Tokharian documents are kept in manuscripts collections of Berlin and Paris. Unfortunately, there are just few publications of entire texts. Significant philological progress was developed, however, through the comparison of the Tokharian languages with Chinese and some other languages. To deepen the understanding of the texts one needs to have a solid knowledge of Buddhist terminology. 
  • Dr George-Marie Pinault edited a number of texts and their translations. Pupils of Dr G.-M.Pinault carry out comparative study of Tokharian and Chinese Buddhist sources. The Tokharian documents and texts are used by them as a source for the reconstruction of Buddhist monastic organization. Vinaya, Buddhist disciplinary code, as represented in Tokharian is particularly studied. 
  • The final aim of the Tokharian studies would be an academic edition of all known Tokharian documents.

The Academic Council also affirmed 

  • the title of the PhD dissertation by V.N.Zaitsev, The Tangut Dictionaries from the 11th through 13th Centuries Kept at the Manuscripts Collection of the IOM RAS [Тангутские словари XI–XIII вв. из рукописного собрания ИВР РАН как источник по истории культуры государства Си Ся], and the supervisor, Prof Dr E.I.Kychanov; 
  • the monograph The History of Khaliphate. Vol. 4 [История халифата. Т. 4] by Dr O.G.Bolshakov, 730 p., for the publication.
Last Updated ( 26/06/2009 )
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