FORCHHAMMER, Emmanuel

FORCHHAMMER, Emmanuel. St.Antönien, Chur 12.3.1851 — Myingyan 26.4.1890. Swiss Indologist (Pāli Scholar) in Burma, Pioneer of Burmese Archaeology. He was born in Switzerland as the son of Christian Gottlieb F. (1814–59, came from Schleswig-Holstein), Lutheran minister in Prätigau, and Elisabeth Schlegel (1824–91), his brother was the church musician Theophil F. (1847–1923). Educated at home and in Chur. In 1867 to the U.S.A., studies in New Orleans, graduated as a Med.Dr., and worked as 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 around 1874. From 1876 he studied Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, Chinese and Arabic at Leipzig (Brockhaus, v. d. Gabelentz, Fleischer), and Armenian in the Mekhitarist Monastery in Venice. Ph.D. In 1878 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 manuscripts, wrote on Burmese law and edited the Tipiṭaka. He was interested in local languages like Shan and Karen and started a comparative dictionary of the South-East Asian languages of Burma. From 1882 he was also Archaeological Inspector for British Burma, engaged in excavations and decipherment of ancient inscriptions in Pāli, Mon and Burmese. 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 planning returning to Europe. Married 1881 Constantin Bäuerlein, the daughter of a missionary working in Bangalore, one daughter.

Publications: Catalogue of Pāli manuscripts. 1-2. 1879-82.

– “Indo-Chinese Languages”, IA 11, 1882, 177-189; some brief articles and reports.

Notes on Buddhist Law. Rangoon 1882-83; Notes on the early history and geography of British Burma. 1-2. 10+16 p. Rangoon 1883-84.

Sources and Development of Burmese Law from the Era of the First Introduction of the Indian Law to the Time of the British Occupation of Pegu. 3+109 p. Rangoon 1885; edited and transl. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham. 117 p. Rangoon 1886 (or 1892).

Report on the antiquities of Arakan. 67 p. 42 pl. n.pl. 1892.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; *H. Cordier, TP 1, 1890, 165; J. Der freie Rhätier 20.7.1890; R.R., Athenaeum 17.5.1890, 641f.; Hist.-biogr. Lex. Schw. 3, with small photo; brother in N.D.B. 5; A. Bigger in Web HistLexSchweiz (1998), my sincere thanks to him for sending copies of the two obituary notices (FRh and Ath.); long obituary in Rangoon Gazette 2.5.1890 (a copy of this was kindly sent to me by Andrew Huxley).

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