Nikita Bichurin

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bichurin, Nikita Iakovlevich


(as a monk, called Iakinf). Born Aug. 29 (Sept. 9), 1777, in the village of Akulevo, Tsivil’sk District, Kazan Province; died May 11 (23), 1853, in St. Petersburg. Russian sinologue. Born into the family of a deacon; Chuvash by nationality.

Bichurin graduated from the Kazan Ecclesiastical Academy in 1799 and became a monk in 1802. Beginning in 1807 he was chief of the ecclesiastical mission in Peking for 14 years, where he acquired a perfect knowledge of Chinese. He was deprived of the rank of archimandrite for neglect of his missionary duties and incarcerated in the Valaam Monastery in 1823. He was released in 1826 and worked as an interpreter in the Asiatic Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He published a great number of scholarly works between 1828 and 1851. Bichurin became a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1828 and a member of the Asiatic Society in Paris in 1831. In 1835–37 he went to Kiakhta, where he set up the first Chinese language school in Russia. His main works are on the history and ethnography of the Turkic-speaking peoples of Middle and Central Asia on the basis of Chinese sources and on the history, culture, and philosophy of China. He was far ahead of his Western European contemporaries in erudition, in the range of questions he studied, and in the wealth of Chinese sources he used for his research and translations. He had great sympathy for the toiling masses of the Ch’ing Dynasty, who were enslaved by the Manchurian-Chinese feudal lords. Bichurin had contact with Pushkin, Odoevskii, and Krylov and maintained an acquaintance with N. A. Bestuzhev and other Decembrists that began in 1830.


Sobranie svedenii o narodakh, obitavshikh ν Srednei Azii ν drevnie vremena, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1851. New edition, vols. 1–3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–53.
Zapiski o Mongolii, vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1828.
Statisticheskoe opisanie Kitaiskoi imperii, vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1842.
Zemledelie ν Kitae ... St. Petersburg, 1844.
Kitai ν grazhdanskom i nravstvennom sostoianii, parts 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1848.


Opisanie Tibeta ν nyneshnem evo sostoianii, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1828.
Opisanie Chzhangarii i Vostochnogo Turkestana ν drevnem i nyneshnem sostoianii, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1829.
Istoriia Tibeta i Khukhunora, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1833.
Kitai, ego zhiteli, nravy, obychai, prosveshchenie. St. Petersburg, 1840.


Tikhonov, D. I. “Russkii kitaeved pervoi poloviny XIXv. Iakinf Bichurin.” Uch. zap. LGU. Seriia vostokovedcheskikh nauk, 1954, no. 179, issue 4.


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