LESSING, Ferdinand Dietrich. Essen 26.2.1882 — Berkeley 31.12.1961. German Sinologist and Central Asian Scholar in the U.S.A. Professor in Berkeley. From 1915 on many years in China. Ph.D. 1926 Berlin on a published work. In 1925-27 he taught Chinese at Seminar der Orientalischen Sprachen in Berlin, in 1928-35 worked in Ostasiatische Sammlungen of Ethnographische Museum in Berlin, in 1930–33 participated in Sven Hedin’s Chinese-Swedish expedition. Leaving Germany, in 1935-49 Agassiz Professor of Oriental Languages at University of California in Berkeley, where he started the teaching of Tibetan and Mongolian. In 1949 emeritus. Among his students was A. Wayman.
FD was mainly a Sinologist, but also much interested in Tibetan, Mongolian and Buddhism.
Publications: much on Sinology.
– Mongolen. Hirten, Priester und Dämonen. 211 p. B. 1935 (travel account).
– With G. Montell: Yung-Ho-Kung. An Iconography of the Lamaist Cathedral in Peking. The Sino-Swedish Expedition Publ. 18:8. Stockholm 1942.
– Mongolian–English Dictionary. 1960.
– with A. Wayman, edited & translated: Mkhas Grub Rje’s Rgyud sde spyihi rnam par gzg pa rgyas par brjod: Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems. 382 p. 1968, 2nd ed. 1978.
– Ritual and Symbol: Collected essays on Lamaism and Chinese Symbolism. 1976.
Sources: Brief note in JAOS 82, 1962, 473; Dir. Am. Sch. 3rd ed. 1957; *R. C. Rudolph, Oriens Extremus 9, 1962, 1-5; *H. Walravens, F.L. (1882–1961): Sinologe, Mongolist und ein Kenner des Lamaismus. Material zu Leben und Werk mit dem Briefwechsel mit Sven Hedin. 2nd ed. Melle 2006; German Wikipedia briefly.
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