LEITNER, Gottlieb Wilhelm. Pest 14(17?).10.1840 — Bonn 22.3.1899. Austro-Hungarian Indologist and Anthropologist in the U.K. and India. Professor in Lahore. Son of Leopold Saphir, a physician of Austrian Jewish family living in Hungary. Father died early and his mother, Marie Henriette Herzberg, remarried Johann Moritz Leitner and moved in 1847 to Constantinople. He was educated there and in London. In the age of 15 he acted as interpreter to the British in the Crimean war. From 1859 Lecturer in Arabic, Turcic and Modern Greek at King’s College in London, from 1861 Professor of Arabic and Mohammadan Law, ibid. Ph.D. 1862 Freiburg. In 1864 “borrowed” to India (keeping his London chair) to assist in the foundation of Lahore University, in 1864-84 served as Principal of Government Oriental College and Registrar of the University there. In 1866-67 travelled in Kashmir, Ladakh and Dardistan on behalf of Pañjab government. In the late 1870s returned from India, in 1884 purchased the premises of Royal Dramatic College in Woking, Surrey, which he turned into an Oriental Nobility Institute also called Oriental University Institute, but it did not get much support. Formally retired from I.C.S. in 1886. Married with Lina Olympia, one son. Died of pneumonia in a German spa.
Leitner was the founder of Dardic philology and the first to study and describe several new languages found during his field tour. He was also interested in Buddhist antiquities and Gandhāra art. In Ladakh he was still able to hear reminiscenses of Csoma’s visit there. He had talent with languages and is said to have known very many. Apparently he had a difficult character and was involved in many controversies.
Publications: Results of a Tour in Dardistan, Kashmir, Little Tibet, Ladak. 1-5. 1866-71 (perhaps same as the next).
– The Races and Languages of Dardistan. 1-3. 1867-71, 2nd ed. 1877.
– A Detailed Analysis of Abdul Ghafúr’s Dictionary of the Terms used by Criminal Tribes in the Punjab. 27 p. Lahore 1880; A Sketch of the Changars and of their Dialect. 21 p. Lahore 1880; Appendix to “Changars” and Linguistic Fragments. Words and Phrases illustrating the dialects of the Samé and Mé as also of Dancers, Mirásis and Dôms. Lahore 1882.
– “Manners and Customs of the Dards”, IA 1, 1872, 7-14, 84-92, 187f.; “Songs and Customs of Dardistan”, Imperial and Asiatic Review 3-6, 1892-93.
– The Hunza and Nagyr Handbook. 14+247 p. Calcutta 1889, 2nd ed. 1893; The People and Language of Hunza. 18?? (same?).
– Dardistan in 1866, 1886, and 1893: Being an Account of the History, Religions, Customs, Legends, Fables, and Songs of Gilgit, Chilás, Kandiá (Gabriál), Yasin, Chitrál, Hunza, Nagyr and Other Parts of the Hindukush. 246 p. Woking 1894.
– Further articles and books on Indology, Arabic and Turkish, a 2-vol. history of Islam in Urdū, 1871-76.
Sources: e-mail notes by M. Bemmann, R. L. Schmidt, and G. Zeller; Bethlenfalvy 1980, 14f.; Buckland, Dictionary; *G. Schlegel, TP 10, 1899, 226f.; *JRAS 1899, 725-729; Das Gelehrte Ungarn; Ö.B.L. 5; OLZ 2, 1899, 128; Oxford D.N.B.; not in Magy. Eletr. lex.; a defective bibliography in Bollettini del quarto Congresso intern. degli Orientalisti. Firenze 1878, 24-26; Wikipedia with two photos.
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