HOFFMANN, John-Baptist

HOFFMANN, John-Baptist (Johann Baptist). Wallendorf, Eifel 21.6.1857 — 19.11.1928. S.J. German Missionary in Chota Nagpur, India. Born in Germany, educated in Echternach and Luxembourg. Joined S.J. as novice in Arlon, Belgium in 1877 and immediately left for India. Worked as teacher in Calcutta and Ranchi, with not much suggest. Ordained priest 1891 in Calcutta. In 1892 started work in tribal area, first in Khunti, soon in Sarwada. With legal training his task was to defend the tribals against offending landlords and finally he achieved the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908. He became familiar with Mundari language, customs and traditions. He started working on the Mundari Encyclopaedia as early as 1888, first assisted by Rev. Theophilus Bodson, S.J. (d. 1892). After a while in Germany on sick leave (1907-08) he worked again in Chota Nagpur in 1908-15, when expelled from India as German, and after war from 1920 on, now assisted by —> Van Emelen.

Publications: Mundari Grammar. 222 p. Calcutta 1903; A Mundari Grammar with Exercises. 1-2. Calcutta 1905-09; “Mundari Poetry, Music and Dances”, MASB 2:5, 1907, 85-120.

Social work in Chota Nagpur. Calcutta 1909, and other works.

with A. Van Emelen: Encyclopaedia Mundarica. 1-16. 4889 p. Patna 1914-41 (16 parts = 5 vols. = A–S, the rest was never published).

– “Principles of Succession and Inheritance Among the Mundas”, JBORS 1, 1915, 5-19, repr. in Man in India 4, 1961, 324-338.

37 Jahre Missionär in Indien. Tröstliche Erfahrungen beim Naturvolk der Mundas, der Mißerfolg der Missioierung höherer Kasten und seine Ursachen. 64 p. Innsbruck 1923.

Christian works in Mundari.

Sources: Briefly mentioned by Ballini 1941, 208; Wikipedia with photo and further references; *The Munda world: Hoffmann commemoration volume. Ranchi 1979.

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