VASIL’EV, Vasilij Pavlovič (Wassilieff)

VASIL’EV, Vasilij Pavlovič (Wassilieff). Nižni-Novgorod 20.2.(4.3.)1818 — St.Petersburg 27.4.1900. Russian Sinologist and Buddhist Scholar. Professor in St.Petersburg. Son of a minor civil servant. After school in Nižnij-Novgorod he studied from 1834 Tatar and Mongolian at Kazan University (under Èrdman, Kowalewski, et al.), Kand. 1837. Now studied Chinese under Archimandrite Daniil. Learned spoken Mongolian from a Buriat lama. Magister 1840 Kazan (with diss. on the Altan Gerel and Buddhist history). From 1839 lay employee at Russian Church embassy in Peking, studied there Chinese, Tibetan, etc, although the pettty-minded and niggardly director tried to hamper. In 1850 he returned to Russia and in 1851 became eo. Professor of Chinese and Manchu at Kazan. From 1854 ord. Professor, in 1855 moved to the new Faculty of Oriental Studies at St.Petersburg University. Dr. 1864, from now also full ord. Professor. Emeritus 1876, but continued teaching, in 1878-93 Dean of Oriental Faculty. In 1893 retired from deanship and teaching on account of poor health. Privy Councillor 1885, full Member of Imperial Academy 1886. Died in complications of an influenza. Married Sof’ja Ivanovna Simonova (d. 1868), five daughters and four sons.

Beside his Sinological and Mongolian studies Vasil’ev was one of the great pioneers of Buddhist studies. His Buddhism vol. 1., based on original sources, was a much read manual in his times and long afterwards. Vol. 2., a glossary of Buddhist terms, never appeared, vol. 3. was the translation of Tāranātha. He was highly interested in Buddhist studes, but his many other obligations restricted the time he could use on them. He had many students, but as staunch Russian nationalist often quarreled with those St.Petersburg scholars who had German background (e.g. Schiefner).

Publications: Mag.diss. Duh Altan-Gérèl’a. Ob osnovanijah filosofii buddizma. Kazan 1839.

– “Die auf den Buddhismus bezüglichen Werke der Univ.-Bibl. zu Kazan”, Bull. Hist. Phil. 11, 1854, 337-365 = Mél. as. 1856, in Russian Uč. zap. 1855.

Buddizm, ego dogmaty, istorija i literatura. 1. 10+326 p. St.P. 1857, German by Schiefner, St.P. 1860, French P. 1865.

Dr.diss. Vedenija o Mančžurah v vremena dinastij Juan i Min. 1864.

Transl. from Tibetan: Istorija buddizma v Indii, sočinenie Daranat’y. 22+228 p. St.P. 1869 (= Buddizm 3.); Geografija Tibeta. Perevod iz tib. sočinenija Min’čžul Hutukty. 95 p. St.P.1895.

Religii Vostoka: konfucianstvo, buddizm i daoizm. 1873.

Istorija i drevnosti Vostočnoj časti srednej Azii, ob X do XIII v. Trudy Vost. Otd. Imp. Arh. Obšč. 4. St.P. 18??; also in Izv. Imp. Peterb.Geogr. Obšč.

– “Zametki po buddizmu”, Zap. Akad. Nauk 55, 1887, 122-131; 59, 1889, 49-70; 62, 1890, 25-37; Izv. 5:10, 1899, 337-354, 393-402; “Le Bouddhisme dans son plein développement d’après les Vinayas”, RHR 34, 1896, 318-325.

A Manchu chrestomathy, 1863, and dictionary, 1866; Chinese chrestomathy, 1-3, 1868; a manual of Chinese writing, 1-2, 1866-84; articles on Sinology, Manchu, etc.

Sources: *V.V. Bartol’d, “Istoričeskie i geografičeskie trudy V.P. Vasil’eva”, Aziatskij sbornik 1918, Izv. 549-560; *H. Cordier, TP 1, 1900, 258-260 with bibliography; *J.C. Ferguson, China Journal 12, 1930, 15-20 with photo; *Z. I. Gorbačeva, N.A. Petrov, G.F. Smykalov & B.I. Pankratov, “Russkoj kitaeved V.P.V.”, Očerki po istorii russkogo kitaevedenija 2, 1956, 232-240; *A.I. Ivanov, “V.P.V. kak sinolog”, Aziatskij sbornik 1918, Izv. 561-566; A. Ivanovski (?), Biogr. slovar’ SPet. 1, 1896, 125-129; *S.F. Ol’denburg, IzvAN 1918:7, 531-548 and *ŽMNPr 330, 1902, 65-70; Stache-Weiske 2017, 566; Walravens 2008, 168f. & Oriens Extremus 48, 2009, 199-249 (with full bibliography and further references); Biobibl. slovar’ Kazan 1, 1904, 222-225; Wikipedia with photo (more in Russian version); photo also in Bongard-Levin & Vigasin 1984 and inin Walravens & Stache-Weiske 2015, 45.

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