Stary Giovanni Enrico (27.03.1946 – 19.10.2022), an outstanding scholar of the European school of Manchu studies, was born in Merano (South Tyrol, Italy) on March 27, 1946 in the family of an employee of a local publisher. After finishing school in Bressanone, he studied at the Faculty of East European languages and literature of the University of Naples "L'Orientale" (Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli) and graduated with honours in 1969. He specialized in East European languages, Czech and Russian. During the 1968 Prague Spring he was in Prague as a student. Earliest China-Russia relations was his dissertation topic and this led him to study Chinese language and to get a diploma in Classical Chinese. In 1971 he began teaching East European history as an assistant and lecturer (professore incaricato), and continued to study Chinese history of the Qing period (1644–1912) and the Manchu language.
In 1977 and 1978 he received two prestigious German scholarships, German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausdienst, DAAD) and Alexander von Humbolt Foundation Scholarship, that allowed him to participate in the Central Asia Seminar at the University of Bonn and the East Asia Seminar at the University of Cologne. In Germany, under supervision of prominent German scholars Walther Heissig (1913–2005) and Walther Fuchs (1902–1979), he mastered Manchu language and literature. In 1978 he returned to Italy, moved with his family to Venice, and began teaching as an assistant at the Department of Chinese language and literature of the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. In 1981–1982 he was an assistant professor (professore associato) at the Department of Mongolian language and literature. He taught Qing history and culture as well as Manchu language and literature. In 1990–1991 he was a visiting professor of Manchu language and literature at the Chinese Studies Institute at the University of Göttingen. In 1999 he organized an independent Department of Manchu language and literature and was its head until 2009. The department’s program included history, culture, and literature of the Qing empire and the Sibe people living in Xinjiang and speaking a dialect of Manchu.
Giovanni Stary focused on exploring the history of Manchu studies, cataloguing Manchu collections in Italy, and creating an extensive bibliography of international Manchu studies. He believed that the most important task for Manchu studies at the turn of the 21st century was to publish Manchu manuscripts kept at collections around the world accompanied with translations and annotations. He published these materials in Central Asiatic Journal, the world’s leading academic journal focusing on Central Asia, and served as its chief editor from 1987 to 2011. In 1982 he organized the periodical Aetas Manjurica specializing in Manchu studies, and in 1990 he created Shamanica Manchurica Collecta for publications on Manchu and Sibe shamanism. Most manuscripts of Manchu and Sibe literature kept at the IOM RAS were published by Giovanni Stary.
Professor Giovanni Stary died in Venice on October 19, 2022 after a long illness.
Articles by Giovanni Stary based on materials of the Manchu collection of the IOM RAS:
Stary G. Three Unedited Manuscripts of the Manchu Epic Tale “Nišan saman-i bithe”. Wiesbaden: Harrassowits, 1985.
Stary G. The Manchu version of the “Imperial Daily Records” as a source for Mongolian History: the example of sacrificial scriptures and the rites celebrated on the eve of the war against G’aldan // Bulletin of the International association for Mongol studies, 1/5, 1990. Ulan Bator, p. 36-42.
Stary G. Some preliminary considerations on the Manchu version of the Daodejing // Studi in onore di Lionello Lanciotti. Ed by S.M. Carletti, M Sacchetti & P. Santangelo. Napoli, 1996, p. 1343-1364 (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici, Series Minor LI).
Stary G. The rediscovery of Yongzheng’s Letter of 1725 to Pope Benedict XIII // Manuscripta Orientalia, 4/4, 1998, p. 27-34.
Stary G., Pang T.A. On the discovery of a printed Manchu text based on Euclid’s “Elements” // Manuscripta Orientalia, 6/4, 2000, p. 49-56.
Stary G. Nota sul ritrovamento a San Pietroburgo di un ‘Atlante’ di Matteo Ripa // Scrittore di Storia, 2. Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2001, p. 123-126.
Stary G. An unknown chapter in the history of Manchu writing: the “Indian Letters” (tianzhu zi 天竺字) // Central Asiatic Journal, 48/2, 2004, p. 280-291.
Stary G. Christian literature in Manchu // Central Asiatic Journal, 44, 2000, p. 305-316.
Stary G. Epengesänge der Sibe-Mandschuren. Wiesbaden: Harrassowits, 1988 (Asiatische Forschungen 106)
Stary G. Mandschurische Reime und Lieder als Beispiele autochthoner Dichkunst // FM, S. 56-75
Stary G. Mandschurische Balladen und Lieder als historisches Spiegelbild der Ch’ing-Dynastie // Fragen der mongolischen Heldendichtung. Teil I, Vorträge des 2. Epensymposium des Sonderforschungsbereichs 12. Bonn, 1979. Wiesbaden, 1981, S. 340-359
Pozzi Alesandra. Giovanni Stary: Imperturbable and very patient // Tumen jalafun jecen akū. Manchu Studies in Honour of Giovanni Stary. Ed. by Alessandra Pozzi, Juha Antero Janhunen and Michael Weiers. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006, p. 15-20.
(Written by: T.A. Pang, PhD)
Stary G. A Preliminary Note on the Manchu Versions of Qianlong’s Poetical Collection Quanyun shi // Written Momuments of the Orient [Письменные памятники Востока], 1(8), 2008. P. 100-104.
Pang T., G. Stary. On the Discovery of a Printed Manchu Text Based on Euclid's “Elements” // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 6, No 4, December 2000. P. 49-56.
Stary G. The Rediscovery of Yongzheng’s Letter of 1725 to Pope Benedict XIII // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 4, No 4, December 1998. P. 27-34.
Stary G. A Manchu Document from 1663 Concerning the Imperial Palace in Shenyang // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 2, No 4, December 1996. P. 23-29.