KOWALEWSKI, Józef Szcepan

KOWALEWSKI, Józef Szcepan (Joseph Etienne K., Russian Osip Mihajlovič Kovalevskij). Grodno (now Hrodna in Belarus) 9.1.1801(28.12.1800) — Warsaw 20.10.(7.11.)1878. Polish Mongolian and Buddhist Scholar in Russia. Professor in Kazan and Warsaw. Born in a polonized family apparently of Belarusian origin, exact birth-place seems to be uncertain (see Wikipedia). Son of the uniate priest Mihail Juzefovič K. School in Swislač. From 1818 studied classical philology and literature at Vilnius University, but became involved in student’s uprising and was expelled to Kazan in 1824. In this “Siberia” of liberal and learned scholars he continued his Arabic studies and started several other Oriental languages, among them Mongolian, which soon became his speciality. Resided several years in Buryatia, until 1833, also visited Mongolia and Peking, where he was 1830-31 secretary to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to Peking and puchased books for the University.In time he became Professor of Mongolian philology at Kazan (1833 Adjunkt, 1834 eo. and 1837 ord., until 1860). Dismissed from the university for political reasons he returned to Poland in 1863 became Professor of history at Warsaw College (which became university in 1869), lectured on Asian history (incl. India). Married with a Russian lady, children. His great dictionary of classic literary Mongolian is said to be the best ever published as far as the Buddhist literature is concerned.

Publications: 72 works, including:

Cosmologie boudhique. 167 p. Kazan 1837.

Kratkaja grammatika mongol’skago knižnago jazyka. Kazan 1835; Mongol’skaja hrestomatija. 1-2. Kazan 1836-37.

Dictionnaire Mongol-Russe-Français. 1-3. 2690 p. Kazan 1844-49.

Sources: G. Dugat, Histoire des orientalistes. P. 1868, 8-11; Kračkovski 1957, 169; *W. Kotwicz, J. K. Orientalista (1801–1878). Wrocław 1948 (in Polish, with bibliography); *H. Walravens, Von Russland über die Mongolei nach China. Berichte aus dem frühen 19. Jahrhundert. Wb. 2002; *Biobibl. slovar’ Kazan 1, 1904, 232-234; *NAA 1982:2, 205-207; *Rossijskie mongolovedy (XVIII – načalo XX vv.). Ulan-Udè 1997, 24-31; Wikipedia with portrait (curiously it contains only his background and early life, until 1818, much more in German, *Polish and *Russian version).

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