PERTOLD, Otakar. Jaroměř 21.3.1884 — Prague 3.5.1965. Czechoslovakian Indologist and Anthropologist. Professor in Prague. Born in Northern Bohemia as son of a chemist and owner of a sugar factory. Educated in Slany 1894-1902, then studies of classical philology, philosophy, Oriental languages (under Zubatý et al.) and astronomy at Prague University. In 1905-06 one year’s military duty. After a dissertation in pedagogy in 1907 Ph.D. 1908 Prague in philosophy and Iranistics. Further studies at his own expense in 1908 in Germany (Geiger, Deussen), Netherlands (Kern, Speyer) and London (Barnett), where he catalogued the Sinhala MSS. of British Museum. In 1909 he went at his own expense to India in order to study religion, particularly remains of popular religion. In Bombay he studied Parsism and Sanskrit under Pandits, in Calcutta Buddhism under E. D. Ross, in Amritsar Sikhism; in Cochin he started work on Tulus, in Western Ghats and Tinnevelly on other tribals, then in Ceylon, later learned Tibetan in Darjeeling. Back in Europe in the end of 1910 he travelled and worked as journalist. Completed his habilitation at Prague in 1912, but was not yet given the right to give lectures. After military service in 1914-18 he was made in 1919 Docent of Religion of Primitive Tribes of South-East Asia and Australia. In the end of 1919 he went again to India and was made in 1920 Czechoslovakian Consul in Bombay. Returned to Prague in 1923 he worked again as journalist until he was nominated eo. Professor of Comparative Religion at Prague in 1927. From 1934 ord. Professor. In 1939 the Nazis closed the Czech University, but after the war OP continued his teaching. From 1948 member of Czechoslovakian Academy.
OP is considered as the founder of religious studies at Prague University. His main research interests were Jainism and popular religion (especially of Sri Lanka). He knew many languages and published translations from Pāli, Bengali, Tamil and Burmese. He taught Hindi/Urdu from 1923 at Mazaryk Institute, from 1927 at Oriental Institute, after the war also Sinhalese and Tamil. Among his Ph.D. students were Mudra, Hájek, Merhautová and Pořízka.
His wife, Anna Pertolda (b. 23.4.1884) accompanied him in India in 1919-23 and published a number of articles and a travel book (1926) on India.
Publications: diss. Herbartismus v pedagogické literatuře anglické a americké. MS. 1907.
– hab.diss. “Ceylonská božstva Gará a Girí”, Věstník české Akademie 21, 1912, 1-63
– “Parittom: Pirit”, Věstník české Akademie 24, 1914.
– Jihoindické vzpomínky. 1919.
– The Place and Importance of Jainism in the Comparative Religion. 1922.
– “A Protective Ritual of the Southern Buddhist”, JAnthrSocBombay 12, 1923-24, 744-789; “The Ceremonial Dances of the Sinhalese”, ArO 2, 1930, 108-137, 201-254, 385-426, 35 pl.
– Příspěvky ke studiu lidových náboženstí ceylonských. 1. Siṁhalské amulety, talismany a řikadla. 80 p. Prague 1925 (with summary: Inquiries into the popular religions of Ceylon 1. Singhalese amulets, talismans and spells).
– Učebnice hindustání. 20+377 p. Prague 1939.
– “Džinistická kosmologie. Svěe a pořádek uněm podle džinistickýh představ”, Universitas Carolina – Philosophica 3, 1957, 33-90.
– numerous articles and reviews in Czech and English in ArO etc.
Sources: *I. Fiser, “Studies of Ceylon in Czechoslovakia”, JRAS-CB N.S. 9:2, 1965, 239-245; *M. Krasa (ed.), Otokar Pertold and South Asian Studies. Centenary Commemoration Volume. Prague, 1986; V. Pořízka, ArO 22, 1954, 161-175 (with bibliography); briefly Wikipedia (more in *Czech version).