Nikita Bichurin

Picture of Nikita Bichurin

Date of Birth: 08/29/1777

Age: 75

Place of birth: village Bichurin Cheboksary County Kazan province.

Citizenship: Russia


Bichurin Nikita Yakovlevich (father Iakinf) (1777 - 1853) - a bright and original figure in science. One of the first major Russian Sinologists, he has emerged as a scholar - historian, geographer and linguist, despite all the limitations associated with the monastic dignity and responsibilities of spiritual rank, and deservedly reputed free-thinker and the "atheist in a cassock." He barely had his invaluable services to mutual knowledge and understanding of the Russian and Chinese peoples. Bichurin although he had predecessors, but essentially opened to domestic and world science the most valuable wealth of the Chinese official historiographical literature (diiastiynye chronicle, the so-called "field reports" to join the chronicles describe the travel and so on. D.). He was the first who, based on these sources, verifying their personal observations, opened its research looks of scientists and the general reader the broad horizons of historical geography of Northern China, Tibet, Korea, Mongolia, and the Central Asian states (at that time belonged to the limits Russia). The study of these countries, political interest which steadily grew in the Russian and Western science was still just beginning. Bichurin - people with complex and unusual biography. At the beginning of his life, his biography is full of gaps, ambiguities and affectation `s lines. Here we confine ourselves to brief information. Bichurin was born in the village of Shiney (now Bichurin) Sviyazhsky district of Kazan Province in the family, "the deacon James" 29 August 1777 Without having studied in the class of the musical singing Novokreschenskoy school, he then moved to the Kazan seminary, which is brilliantly and finished in 1799. In 1800, was he himself taught at the Kazan seminary (transformed into the Theological Academy). In 1802 he was tonsured a monk, took holy orders and was named a monk Iakinfom. Bichurin was appointed Archimandrite in the Ascension Convent in Irkutsk, where he became rector of the seminary and at the same time. Soon, already in 1803 (as the biographers write, "due to violation of the charter of the monastery"), Hyacinth`s father was exiled to a monastery in the city of Tobolsk, where he also was a teacher of rhetoric in seminary. His broad erudition and keen interest in the history, life and culture of the peoples of East Asia (Mongols, Chinese, etc.), Especially in the period of stay in Irkutsk, were widely known. Perhaps that is why in 1805, when preparing for departure to China ended the ninth of the spiritual mission in Beijing Bichurin Synod was appointed head of the mission and Archimandrite Sretensky Monastery in Beijing. Final approval of the mission took place only towards the end of 1807 leaving it to Beijing in September 1807 and ends in essence the first part of his life. Arriving in January 1808 in the capital of his new and fabulous country for its contemporaries, Father Hyacinth with all his characteristic energy began to study Chinese manners and customs of the Chinese people, he has mastered the Chinese language - spoken and literary, which opened him access to the heart people and to the treasures of China`s geographical, historical and ethnographic literature. Over 14 years in China Bichurin acquired (and then brought to Russia by a caravan of 15 camels) for exceptional scientific value of a collection of Chinese and other books and manuscripts for many years served as his source for a variety of scientific research. Absorbed in scientific pursuits, so he launched his "pastoral" of the case that the state of the mission led by him proved disastrous. As a result, the recall Bichurina in Russia in 1821, he was exiled to the Valaam monastery. Having broken from exile only in 1826 by special request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, need it, as a connoisseur of language in the life of the peoples of East Asia, Father Hyacinth was attached to the Asiatic Department. However, in the future, when subsequent attempts (1831), he failed to get rid of monasticism. Being "by a residence permit" in the cell of St. Petersburg Alexander Nevsky Lavra (ie. E. Forced to continue to tolerate the oppression of monastic life and kept under constant surveillance by the authorities laurels), he began to prepare for publication his translations and studies. The first scientific article it published in 1827, the first works ( "Notes on Mongolia" and "Description of Tibet") - in 1828. Until the end of his days Bichurin published a number of major works (total of 12) and dozens of articles that published in 20 different periodicals. It is interesting to note that by enriching the Russian geographical science in valuable information about the countries and peoples, before the little-known or almost unknown, he Bichurin up until 1842 believed their activities preparatory to achieve its main goal - the publication of a full description of China. In the preface to the "Statistical description of the Chinese Empire" (first published in 1842) (1), he wrote: "... the aim of all hitherto published various translations and my writings, that was to pre-announce some information about the countries through which lie the path leading into the interior of China. The procedure required before explore Tibet, Turkistan and Mongolia, t. E. Those countries that have long been located in close ties with China and through which China has the most ties with India, Central Asia, and Russia. His two-volume work "The statistical description of the Chinese Empire" Bichurin considered only a first step towards the implementation of this goal of his life. It is not the opening of China and neighboring countries for his Russian reader (what were in fact generally made his works) set a merit scholar, but only the widest possible coverage of different aspects of life of the peoples of China. Describing the specific areas of the Chinese empire, Bichurin thanks to its "preparatory" work could not only give a detailed description of the local flora and fauna, but also indicate that it is in each area is really local, and that brought the outside thanks to human activity. "In describing the local natural products of, - he writes - I noted in the notes of wood and plants are exported to China from abroad. From these notes can vldet that actually belongs to the climate and soil of China and that they borrowed from other countries of the world. " Bichurin knew the works of his predecessors (especially Russian) and highly appreciated many of them (for example, published in 1784 multivolume work, and I. Rossokhin Leont`eva "A detailed description of the origin and condition of the Manchu people and army, the banners in the Eighth composed") as based on primary sources. In his writings, he constantly pointed out exactly what materials they used. However, throughout his scientific career a lot of effort and work expended Bichurin to fight against confusion in the information about the peoples and the countries of East Asia, which arose in the West European and Russian science of that time as a result of the non-critical use of primary sources, lack of knowledge of the languages of Asia, translators and researchers or as a result of deliberate distortion of information by some authors today Bichurinu biased and superficial works. He showed that the errors found in the writings of the Mongolian and Chinese authors. In the preface to the "Statistical description of the Chinese Empire," he writes: "... wrong place opened a few in the south-western limits of China and eastern Mongolia. With regard to western Mongolia and parts of East Turkistan, it ought to nearly a tenth of much change. The errors on the maps the most belonged to the lakes and rivers "(ibid, p. XIV). The reason for this confusion and the existence of significant omissions in the historical geography of East Asia Bichurin seen as an inability or unwillingness to compare data from different sources. Of his own works, usually equipped with "Additions" (how modestly referred to these vocabularies, is a brief historical and geographical references). Soviet reader seems strange that the need for such "Addition" Bichurinu had to prove: "Many, perhaps seem superfluous - he says - adding with a description of ancient cities, once existed in Manchuria and Mongolia, and also the ancient Chinese name of mountains and rivers in the same countries "(ibid, p. XXIII). His works were highly appreciated by his contemporaries. Reader attracted latitude Bichurina interests, vast and uncharted territory covered by his research, the depth of his understanding of the sources and accuracy of the translation, and especially rare when a friendly attitude to the studied peoples of the East, the desire, without prejudice to submit their life, customs, culture, and their contribution in a culture common to all mankind. The great contemporary of his Pushkin, friendly and met with Bichurin who knew him as a scholar wrote: "The most reliable and impartial news about the escape Kalmyks we owe Iakinfu father, whose deep knowledge and conscientious work poured so bright light on our relations with the East " (1). Equally high was to assess the knowledge and Bichurina among prominent Western scientists. So, the famous French sinologist Stanislav Julien, to prove his innocence in a dispute with respect to the accuracy of the translation Pottier Chinese sources cited as the most authoritative, negative opinion about translations Bichurina Pottier. In European languages (French, German) translated the works Bichurina: "Notes on the Mongolia ..." (geographical, political and economic description of Mongolia, 1828), "Description of Tibet in its present state with a road map of Cheng-Du to Hlassy" "Description of Beijing, accompanied this capital plan, filmed in 1817" and others. Under the modest subtitle "on the description of Beijing`s" hidden huge, incredible energy cost labor Bichurina topographic (with soundings in steps) taking the city, a third of which was taboo and open to visit only in the most exceptional cases. As a scientist, geographer Bichurin great importance attached maps. His description of the individual countries and the entire northern zone of Central and East Asia, as well as articles about passed their routes and descriptions of cities, are equipped with the most documented maps, plans, and so on. D. As mentioned above, a large part of these maps were based on the materials collected them personally. In those cases where it was not possible to pass on the route depicted himself, he sought to refine the data sources cross by comparing information from the original sources, Chinese and others. For example, they made up a map from the above-mentioned way Chan Doo to Hlassy (Lhasa). Thorough knowledge of East Asian (primarily Chinese) geographical and historical literature enabled him to first put (and in some cases properly resolve) the question of an appropriate name and location mentioned by various sources of rivers, mountains, lakes and towns. Research interests Bichurina not limited to purely geographical problems. He was interested in (and have been the subject of his research) questions of political history, ethnography, economics, linguistics, history and culture of the peoples of Eastern and Central Asian countries. With good reason arguing that geography and history of the country can not be studied without the language of the people of knowledge studied countries Bichurin went on to the lexical composition and grammatical structure of the Chinese language, was at the same vocabulary to 12,000 characters (specifying the material, he is four he rewrote), produced and published the first in Russia, thorough "grammar of the Chinese language - Hanvyn-tsimyn". At the same time he developed his (different from that used in the works of predecessors and successors) transcription of pronunciation (phonetics) of Chinese characters in Russian letters. This is not a complete list of issues and works Bichurina, which to them for 46 years of his scientific work done or said opening the first word. The scientific activity Bichurina drew the attention of his high principles, the complete absence of worship of authority. Ardent patriot of Russian science is deeply resented exaltation of imaginary achievements inflated foreign scientific authority. He wrote: "If we had, from the time of Peter the Great to this day, not addicted to constant and indiscriminate imitation of foreign writers, it would long since have had their autonomy in different sectors of education. It is not right in thinking those who believe that Western Europeans long ago and far ahead of us in education, therefore, we can only follow them. This idea weakens our brains, and we are almost duty to set ourselves a stranger, and not your mind to think about anything. This same idea is stop our progress in the field of education in different sciences. If you blindly repeating that he would write a Frenchman or a German, then a repetition of such backsides will always be back and our minds forever will be a reflection of the thoughts of others, often bizarre and often absurd "Quoted from the first volume of essays NY Bichurina (Hyacinthus) ed. USSR Academy of Sciences, 1950.Primechatelno that highly regarded advanced Russian public loved her best representatives (among them were, except Pushkin Decembrist NA Bestuzhev Belinsky and others) won a fierce Bichurin hostility not only from Bulgarin, but the Baron Brambeus (Senkovsky), to which both Russia and all Russian (especially the Russian language) was the personification of roughness, retardation. The most productive times of scientific activity were Bichurina 1839-1844 years. His last major work "Collection of information about peoples that lived in Central Asia in ancient times" was published in 1851. In 1828 Bichurin was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences. Four times he was awarded the Demidov Prize (the last time for "Collection of information about peoples ..."). Bichurin died after a long illness May 11, 1853 and is buried in the cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. On the monument, standing over his ashes, write a string of eight Chinese characters that read: "Continuing diligently worked on to perpetuate his fame historical works." Many of his works preserved in their full scientific significance to the present day, and are a source of the development of a number of issues that have received a truly scientific coverage only in our days. Literary Heritage Bichurina appreciated today, the Soviet era. The main merit of his that he is taking his work with East Asian countries the veil of false mystery, made China more understandable, and therefore also close to Russian, which is of a very special historical significance in our time, when the unbreakable friendship forever connect the two great people. The successors N. Bichurin case for the study of Chinese historiography data about past peoples of our homeland, VP Vasiliev, E. Bretschneider and others. However, the most extensive work of the founder and the late Soviet scientist NV Kuhner, completed shortly before his death (1955). In recent years, a number of articles about N.Ya.Bichurin. Academy of Sciences (Institute of Ethnography, Oriental and material culture) taken reprinting the most important of his works. In the years 1950-1953. republished in three volumes of "Collection of information about the peoples of Central Asia, who lived in ancient times." Issued biographical novel about N.Ya.Bichurin for Youth ( "friend Zhongguo" Talanov A. and N. Rum). This work in three volumes reprinted in the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in the years 1950-1953. (USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ethnography of N. Maclay).

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