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T'ang Studies 18-19 (2000-01) T'ang Studies in Russia during the Past Fifteen Years IRINA POPOV A INSTITUTE OF ORIENT At STUDIES, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Russian Sinology has a long history, about three hundred years, and it is one of the most.productive realms of Asian Studies . The last nearly fifteen years have been characterized by an increase in activities regarding East Asian and Chinese studies in Russia. This owes much to 1) the extension of international connections and exchange, and 2) the appearance of a number of independent publishing houses. During the past decade and a half, large numbers of research monographs, archive materials, translations of classical texts and belles-lettres, reader's selections and manuals have been published and republished. Works on Sinology have been surprisingly popular, and books on Chinese studies are being bought by people who have absolutely no professional relation to the research itself. The great interest in Eastern civilization, always a feature of Russian culture, has in the last years become enormous. Perhaps one may explain it by the intention to avoid an ideological vacuum at the current stage of development of Russian society, when people seek an appealing view of life in Eastern philosophies, and also owing to an increase in the number of Chinese emigrants, which has had a significant impact on practical sinology in Russia. The majority of Russian specialists in Chinese studies have positions at the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (the biggest of these are the Institute of Oriental Studies and the Institute of the Far East). Others work at universities under the Ministry of Education or in museums, publishing houses, libraries, or other institutions. The total number of Russian research specialists on China (those who have published works) may approach one 111 Papaya: Tang Studies in Russia thousand. Of these, about two hundred emphasize the premodern period and about twenty specialize in T'ang studies on a variety of historical, literary, linguistic, sociological, and art-historical subjects. The majority of the specialists on T'ang China live and work in St. Petersburg. A focus on the premodern period is the main characteristic of the St. Petersburg school of Sinology, as opposed to the Moscow school, which emphasizes modern studies. The history of this premodern orientation for sinology in St. Petersburg can be traced to November 27, 1818, when the Asian Museum was founded there as a research institution under the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences. The museum held the eastern antiquities and books of the famous collection of Tsar Peter the Great. Throughout the nineteenth century the collection was enhanced through donations from the personal libraries of envoys, travelers, statesmen, merchants, and scholars. The collection now includes manuscripts and early printed books (totaling over 100,000 items in sixty-three languages) and is one of the three or four most prominent libraries of Eastern Studies outside of Asia. In 1930 the Institute of Oriental Studies was organized with an affiliation to the museum. In 1951 it was moved to Moscow , but a branch remained in Leningrad, now (once again) St. Petersburg. The scholars of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies have always drawn heavily on the primary sources included in the Institution's collection for their research. Since the first days of the Asian Museum, the cataloguing of the collection, publication, translation, and investigation of its manuscripts and sources have been of primary importance for Eastern Studies and Sinology in St. Petersburg. There is, however, no requirement or obligation for members to work on the catalogues and holdings, and scholars have a free choice of individual research topics. There are nine departments in our Institute, three of which emphasize Chinese studies: the Department of the Far East, 112 Tang Studies 18-19 (2000-01) the Department of Chinese and Central Asian Historiography, and the Group for Far Eastern Textual Criticism. The most famous among the manuscript holdings in St. Petersburg are the Tun-huang materials, which were acquired by S.F Oldenburg (1863-1934)at Tun-huang during his expedition of 1914-15. Work on the systematization of the collection was begun by K.K. Flug...


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