Franz Anton Schiefner


1817 – 1879


Who was Franz Anton Schiefner?

Franz Anton Schiefner was a Baltic German linguist and tibetologist.

Schiefner was born to a German-speaking family in Reval, Estonia, then part of Russian Empire. His father was a merchant who had emigrated from Bohemia. He was educated first at the Reval grammar school, matriculated at St Petersburg as a law student in 1836, and subsequently at Berlin, from 1840 to 1842, where he devoted himself exclusively to studies of Eastern languages. On his return to St Petersburg in 1843 he taught classics in the First Grammar School, and soon afterwards received a post in the Imperial Academy, where in 1852 the cultivation of the Tibetan language and literature was assigned to him as a special function. From 1860 to 1873 he simultaneously held the professorship of classical languages in the Saint Petersburg Roman Catholic Theological Academy. From 1854 until his death he was an extraordinary member of the Imperial Academy. He visited England three times for purposes of research in 1863, 1865 and 1878.

Schiefner made his mark in literary research in three directions. First, he contributed to the Memoirs and Bulletin of the St Petersburg Academy, and brought out independently a number of valuable articles and larger publications on the language and literature of Tibet. He possessed also a remarkable acquaintance with the Mongolian, and when death overtook him had just finished a revision of the New Testament in that language with which the British and Foreign Bible Society had entrusted him.

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Jul 18, 1817
Nov 16, 1879
Saint Petersburg

on July 23, 2013


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