Ernst Waldschmidt

In 1924, he obtained his Ph.D. in the course of editing this edition (1926). Six years later, he edited fragments of Buddhist sÅ«tras from the Madhyamāgama of the Sarvāstivādins (1932). The arrangement of this book was to become standard for all editions of Sanskrit texts from the Turfan finds. A careful transcription of the manuscripts is followed by a reconstruction of the wording of the text, this being backed up by the parallel Pāli, Chinese and Tibetan versions of the text, when available. His masterly editions of the Mahāparnirvāį¹‡a-, the Mahāvadāna- and the Catuį¹£pariį¹£atsÅ«tra follow exactly this model. Nearly every year, almost until the time of his death, Waldschmidt published editions of Turfan texts for scholarly journals and festschrifts, which have been collected in two volumes (1967, 1989). A great number of smaller fragments he made available in the five volumes of the catalogue ā€œSanskrithandschriften aus den Turfanfundenā€ four of which he himself published between 1965 and 1980 (the fifth appeared posthumously in 1985). And it was Waldschmidt who conceived the plan of a thesaurus-like dictionary of the Sanskrit Turfan texts, which will be completed within the next years. Several of WaldschmidtŹ¼s pupils, such as Herbert HƤrtel, Kusum Mittal, Dieter Schlingloff, Valentina Stache-Rosen and Chandrabhal Tripathi, worked along the lines of their teacher and edited texts when sufficient manuscripts were to hand.

As a result of his work at the ā€œMuseum fĆ¼r Vƶlkerkundeā€, Waldschmidt became interested in Indian and Central Asian art. Hence, his very first publication was a book about the early mediaeval art of Central Asia (1925). It was followed by a ā€“ controversially received ā€“ approach to the dating of the wall paintings of monasteries in the Turfan oasis (1928, 1933) and by a new edition of GrĆ¼nwedelŹ¼s ā€œBuddhistische Kunst in Indienā€ (1932a). Travelling a lot in India and adjacent countries, he was also interested in folk art and handicrafts. Indeed, together with his wife Rose Leonore, he published several books on these topics.

Waldschmidt was a real Maecenas for Indology. Already during his lifetime he bequeathed his house and library to the indological Institute of the University of Goettingen, whereas in Berlin he founded the ā€œStiftung Ernst Waldschmidtā€, which supports indological research and edits the ā€œMonographien zur indischen ArchƤologie, Kunst und Philologieā€.

Thomas Oberlies

 

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