Vasil’ev, Vasilii Pavlovich
Born Feb. 20 (Mar. 4), 1818, in Nizhny Novgorod; died Apr. 27 (May 10), 1900, in St. Petersburg. Russian sinologue; academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1886; corresponding member, 1866).
In 1837, Vasil’ev graduated from the division of Oriental languages of the historical philology department of the University of Kazan. In 1840 he was attached to a Russian religious mission in Peking, where he studied the Sanskrit, Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Manchu languages. He became a professor at the University of Kazan in 1851 and at the University of St. Petersburg in 1855. Vasil’ev was a scholar with wide-ranging interests who carried on research in different areas of Chinese studies (history, religion, geography, language, and literature of China). His major works are Buddhism, Its Dogmas, History, and Literature (parts 1 and 3, 1857-69), which covered an epoch in the study of Buddhism and has been translated into German and French; History and Antiquities in the Oriental Part of Middle Asia From the Tenth to the 13th Centuries (1857); The Religion of the East: Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism (1873); Analysis of Chinese Characters (parts 1-2, 1866-84), in which Vasil’ev provided a sketch of Chinese phonetics, morphology, and the writing system; Sketch of the History of Chinese Literature (1880); and Graphic System of Chinese Characters: An Attempt at the First Chinese-Russian Dictionary (1867).