TIEFFENTHALER, Joseph

TIEFFENTHALER, Joseph. Bozen in South Tyrol (now Bolzano in Italy) 27.4.1710 — Lucknow 5.7.1785. S.J. Father. Austrian Missionary, Astronom and Geographer in India. Jesuit novice 1729, trained in Germany. In 1740 to Spain and in 1743 left Portugal for Goa, worked and travelled in northern India: from Surat to Agra (taught at Agra College), Delhi, Mathura, Bombay, etc. Lived several years in Narvar. Finally made a particular survey of the Ganges and Ghogra, resulting in three maps which he sent to Anquetil-Duperron, who often referred to him in his own studies.

Unsatisfied with the poor maps of Inner India he started his geographical survey in western and northern India. Beside own observations he used oral informants and Persian written sources. He kept his papers in Lucknow, where they were destroyed by fire in 1757. He wrote an account in Latin based on his 30 years’ experience (1743-73), observations and studies. The manuscript was brought to Copenhagen, and the atronomer Bernoulli translated it into German. He was learned and reliable and his account, often based on first-hand observations, is an important document of 18th century India from Kabul to Deccan.

Publications: Historisch-geographische Beschreibung von Hindustan. 1-2. Berlin 1785-86; an 4° ed. enlarged with several appendices (i.al. from Rennell and Anquetil-Duperron). 1-3. B. 1785-88.

Several lost studies, some letters preserved.

Anquetil-Duperron: Carte général du cours du Gange et du Gagra dressée par les cartes particuliéres du P. Tieffenthaler. Paris 1784.

Sources: L. Fernando, “J.T. The Missionary Geographer”, ICHR 34, 2000, 38-50: *J. Noti, J.T., S.J., A Forgotten Geographer of India. Bombay 1906; *S. N. Sen, “Joseph Tieffenthaler and his Geography of Hindustan”, JASB 4:4, 1962, 75-99; Windisch 14f.; briefly D.B.E. 10, 1999, 38; Wikipedia (not quite reliable).

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