FRANCKE, August Hermann. Gnadenfrei/Schlesien 5.11.1870 — Berlin 16.2.1930. German Missionary (in Ladakh) and Tibetologist. Professor in Berlin. Son of A.H.Fr., a merchant and dyehouse owner, and Charlotte Susanne Beyer. After school studied for the missionary work at teachers’ seminar of the Evang. Brüdergemeinde in Niesky (Oberlausitz). After further studies in Manchester went to India and worked in 1896-1910 in Ladakh: in Leh, Khalatse and Kyelang. In 1909-10 surveyed for the Indian government the archaeological remains of Tibetan frontier. In 1910 returned to Germany. In 1914 he was sent by Munich Museum to Ladakh, but was interned. Freed in 1916 and returned to Europe served as interpreter and was again taken prisoner in Serbia. In 1919 settled down in Gnadenberg (Schlesien) and started study on the gZer-myig MSS. In 1922 PD for Tibetan at Berlin, in 1925 ao. Professor. Never wholly recovered of the troubles of captivity and died in its consequences. Hon. member of British & Foreign Bible Society 1906 (because of his Bible translations). Hon. Ph.D. 1911 Breslau.
AHF had an enormous ability in languages. As a schoolboy he learned (then still living) Wendish as well as Sanskrit and Old Scandinavian. In Ladakh he became soon interested in the history, epigraphy, archaeology and folklore of the country. He did much pioneer work on Tibetan history. He founded the study of the Bon religion and found the living Gesar tradition in 1900. In 1904 he founded the first Tibetan journal, which was read even in Lhasa.
Publications: a number of translations of the Bible in literary Tibetan, in Western Tibetan, and in Dardic languages. Continued this work until his death.
– Frühlingsmythus der Kesarsage. 31 p. MSFOu 15:1. Helsinki 1900; Wintermythus der Kesarsage. 177 p. MSFOu 15:2. H. 1902; A Lower Ladakhi version of the Kesar saga. 32+493 p. Bibl. Ind. Calcutta 1905-41 (edition); “The Paladins of the Kesar-Saga. A collection of Sagas from Lower Ladakh”, JASB N.S. 3, 1907, 67-77, 261-388, and shorter articles in JASB.
– A Sketch of Ladakhi Grammar. 63 p. JASB 70 Extra-Nr. 2. Calcutta 1901; “Kleine Beiträge zur Phonetik und Grammatik des Tibetischen”, ZDMG 57, 1903, 285-298
– A History of Western Tibet. 1907, 2nd ed. 1909, repr. as A Hist. of Ladakh. 1977.
– “Geschichte des Dogra-Kriegs nach dem MS. C des Ladrags rgyalrabs, hrsg. und übers.”, ZDMG 64, 1910, 537-552; articles in Epigr. Ind.
– Antiquities of Indian Tibet. A.S.I. New Imperial Series 38. 1914.
– Durch Zentralasien in die indische Kriegsgefangenschaft. 1921.
– articles on the Tibetan Vetālapañcaviṁśati: ZDMG 75, 1921 and 77, 1923; ZII 6, 1928; articles in SBeAW.
– Tibetische Hochzeitslieder, übersetzt nach Handschriften von Tag-Ma-Cig. 74 p. 16 pl. Hagen 1923; “gZer-Myig, A Book of the Tibetan Bonpos”, Asia Major 1, 1924, 243-347; 3, 1926, 321-339; 4, 1927, 161-239, 481-539; 5, 1930, 1-40; 6, 1930, 299-314; N.S. 1, 1950, 163-188.
– Geistesleben in Tibet. 80 p. Allgem. Missionsstudien. Gütersloh 1925.
– “Felseninschriften in Ladakh”, SBeAW 1925, 366-370.
Sources: H.-W. Jannasch, N.D.B. 5, 1961, 234f.; *H. Wallravens & M. Taube, A.H.F. und die Westhimalaya-Mission der Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde: eine Bibliographie. 531 p. 281 pl. VOHD Suppl. 34. St. 1992; briefly in D.B.E. 3, 1996, 404; Wikipedia (more details in German version).
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