FORCHHAMMER, Emmanuel. St.Antönien 12.3.1851 — Myingyan 26.4.1890. Swiss Indologist (Pāli Scholar) in Burma. He was born in Switzerland as son of Christian Gottlieb F. (1814–59, came from Schleswig-Holstein), minister in Prätigau, and Elisabeth Schlegel (1824–91), his brother was the church muscian Theophil F. (1847– 1923). Educated at home and in New Orleans, graduated as a Med.Dr., and worked a assistant surgeon in a hospital. Then he became interested in languages, travelled among Indian tribes in U.S.A. and Mexico and came to Europe in 1875. Now he studied Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, Chinese and Arabic at Leipzig, and Armenian in the Mekhitarist Monastery in Venice. In 1879 he was offered two positions. Rejecting the offer of the Brazilian Emperor to survey Indian languages there he accepted the chair of Pāli at Rangoon College (Government High School). As professor in Rangoon he studied Burmese and Pāli literature, catalogued Pāli MSS., wrote on Burmese law and edited the Tipiṭaka. He was interested in local languages like Shan and Karen and started a comparative dictionary of South-East Asian languages. From 1882 he was also Archaeological Inspector for British Burma, engaged in excavations and decipherment of ancient inscriptions. He made an archaeological survey of Arakan and in 1888 surveyed the temple ruins of Pagan. Eventually his health succumbed to the climate and he died on his way back to Europe. Married 1881 Constantin Bäuerlein, the daughter of a missionary working in Bangalore.
Publications: see above.
– “Indo-Chinese Languages”, IA 11, 1882, 177-189.
– Notes on Buddhist Law. 1882-83; Notes on the early histiry and geography of British Burma. 1883-84; Sources and Development of Burmese Law. 1885.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; *Athenaeum 1890; Hist.-buigr. Lex. Schw. 3, with photo; briefly noted in TP 1, 1890; brother in N.D.B. 5; A. Bigger in Web HistLexSchweiz.
Last Updated on