Julius Klaproth

Heinrich Julius Klaproth (11 October 1783 – 28 August 1835) was a German linguist, historian, ethnographer, author, orientalist and explorer.[1] As a scholar, he is credited along with Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat, with being instrumental in turning East Asian Studies into scientific disciplines with critical methods.[2]

Julius Klaproth
Julius Klaproth


H.J. Klaproth was usually known as Julius or Julius von Klaproth. His name also erroneously appears as "Julius Heinrich Klaproth".


Klaproth was born in Berlin on 11 October 1783, the son of the chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth, who is credited with the discovery of four elements including uranium.[3]

Young Klaproth devoted his energies in quite early life to the study of Asiatic languages, and published in 1802 his Asiatisches Magazin (Weimar 1802–1803). He was in consequence called to St. Petersburg and given an appointment in the academy there. In 1805 he was a member of Count Golovkin's embassy to China. On his return he was despatched by the academy to the Caucasus on an ethnographical and linguistic exploration (1807–1808), and was afterwards employed for several years in connection with the academy's Oriental publications. In 1812 he moved to Berlin.[4]

In 1815 he settled in Paris, and in 1816 Humboldt procured him from the king of Prussia the title and salary of professor of Asiatic languages and literature, with permission to remain in Paris as long as was requisite for the publication of his works.[4] He died in Paris on 28 August 1835.

Klaproth was an orientalist or an "Asiatologist," in that he had a good command not only of Chinese, but also Manchu, Mongolian, Sanskrit, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and even Caucasian languages. His wide range of interests encompassed the study of the development of individual countries in their Asian context, which contrast with the 21st century focus on specialization.[3]

Klaproth's 1812 Dissertation on language and script of the Uighurs (Abhandlung über die Sprache und Schrift der Uiguren) was disputed by Isaak Jakob Schmidt, who is considered the founder of Mongolian Studies. Klaproth asserted that the Uighur language was a Turkic language, while Schmidt was persuaded that Uighur should be classified as a "Tangut" language.[5]


Klaproth's bibliography extends to more than 300 published items.

His great work Asia Polyglotta (Paris, 1823 and 1831, with Sprachatlas) not only served as a résumé of all that was known on the subject, but formed a new departure for the classification of the Eastern languages, more especially those of the Russian Empire. To a great extent, however, his work is now superseded.

The Itinerary of a Chinese Traveller (1821), a series of documents in the military archives of St. Petersburg purporting to be the travels of George Ludwig von , and a similar series obtained from him in the London foreign office, are all regarded as spurious.

Klaproth's other works include:

  • Reise in den Kaukasus und Georgien in den Jahren 1807 und 1808 (Halle, 1812–1814; French translation, Paris, 1823)
  • Geographisch-historische Beschreibung des ostlichen Kaukasus (Weimar 1814)
  • Tableaux historiques de l'Asie (Paris, 1826)
  • Memoires relatifs a l'Asie (Paris, 1824–1828)
  • Tableau historique, geographique, ethnographique et politique de Caucase (Paris, 1827)
  • Vocabulaire et grammaire de la langue georgienne (Paris, 1827)

Klaproth was also the first to publish a translation of Taika era Japanese poetry in the West. Donald Keene explained in a preface to the Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai edition of the Man'yōshū:

"One 'envoy' (hanka) to a long poem was translated as early as 1834 by the celebrated German orientalist Heinrich Julius Klaproth (1783–1835). Klaproth, having journeyed to Siberia in pursuit of strange languages, encountered some Japanese castaways, fisherman, hardly ideal mentors for the study of 8th century poetry. Not surprisingly, his translation was anything but accurate."

Other works on Japan include:

See also


  1. ^ Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779–1822, pp. 69-72.
  2. ^ Walravens, Hartmut. "Julius Klaproth. His Life and Works with Special Emphasis on Japan," Japonica Humboldtiana 10 (2006), p. 177.
  3. ^ a b Walravens, p. 178.
  4. ^ a b Screech, p. 70.
  5. ^ Walravens, p. 181 n14.
  6. ^ Vos, Ken. "Accidental acquisitions: The nineteenth-century Korean collections in the National Museum of Ethnology, Part 1," Archived 22 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine p. 6.
  7. ^ Pouillon, François. (2008). Dictionnaire des orientalistes de langue française, p. 542.


  • Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai (Japanese Classics Translation Committee). (1965). The Man'yōshū: One Thousand Poems. New York: Columbia University Press. OCLC 220930639
  • Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779–1822. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1720-0
  • Walravens, Hartmut. "Julius Klaproth. His Life and Works with Special Emphasis on Japan," Japonica Humboldtiana 10 (2006).
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Klaproth, Heinrich Julius". Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 844.

Further reading

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He was also diplomat and ambassador, representing Joseon interests in the 4th Edo period diplomatic mission to the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan.

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Jo Tae-eok

Jo Tae-eok (1675–1728), also known as Cho T'aeŏk, was a scholar-official and Jwauijeong of the Joseon Dynasty Korea in the 18th century.

He was also diplomat and ambassador, representing Joseon interests in the 8th Edo period diplomatic mission to the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan.

Joseon Tongsinsa

The Joseon Tongsinsa were goodwill missions sent intermittently, at the request of the resident Japanese authority, by Joseon Dynasty Korea to Japan. The Korean noun identifies a specific type of diplomatic delegation and its chief envoys. From the Joseon diplomatic perspective, the formal description of a mission as a tongsinsa signified that relations were largely "normalized," as opposed to missions that were not called tongsinsa.Diplomatic envoys were sent to the Muromachi shogunate and to Toyotomi Hideyoshi between 1392 and 1590. Similar missions were dispatched to the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan between 1607 and 1811. After the 1811 mission, another mission was prepared, but it was delayed four times and ultimately cancelled due to domestic turmoil in Japan that resulted in the establishment of the Meiji Restoration in Japan, after which Japanese relations with Korea took a markedly different tone.


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Klaproth is a German surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Martin Heinrich Klaproth (1743–1817), German chemist

Klaproth (crater), lunar crater named after Martin Heinrich Klaproth

Julius Klaproth (1783–1835), German linguist, historian, ethnographer, author, Orientalist and explorer

Stephan Klapproth (1958), a Swiss journalist and television presenter


The Man'yōshū (万葉集, literally "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", but see § Name below) is the oldest extant collection of Japanese waka (poetry in Classical Japanese), compiled sometime after AD 759 during the Nara period. The anthology is one of the most revered of Japan's poetic compilations. The compiler, or the last in a series of compilers, is today widely believed to be Ōtomo no Yakamochi, although numerous other theories have been proposed. The last datable poem in the collection is from AD 759 (No. 4516). It contains many poems from much earlier, many of them anonymous or misattributed (usually to well-known poets), but the bulk of the collection represents the period between AD 600 and 759. The precise significance of the title is not known with certainty.

The collection is divided into twenty parts or books; this number was followed in most later collections. The collection contains 265 chōka (long poems), 4,207 tanka (short poems), one tan-renga (short connecting poem), one bussokusekika (a poem in the form 5-7-5-7-7-7; named for the poems inscribed on the Buddha's footprints at Yakushi-ji in Nara), four kanshi (Chinese poems), and 22 Chinese prose passages. Unlike later collections, such as the Kokin Wakashū, there is no preface.

The Man'yōshū is widely regarded as being a particularly unique Japanese work. This does not mean that the poems and passages of the collection differed starkly from the scholarly standard (in Yakamochi's time) of Chinese literature and poetics. Certainly many entries of the Man'yōshū have a continental tone, earlier poems having Confucian or Taoist themes and later poems reflecting on Buddhist teachings. Yet, the Man'yōshū is singular, even in comparison with later works, in choosing primarily Ancient Japanese themes, extolling Shintō virtues of forthrightness (真, makoto) and virility (masuraoburi). In addition, the language of many entries of the Man'yōshū exerts a powerful sentimental appeal to readers:

[T]his early collection has something of the freshness of dawn. [...] There are irregularities not tolerated later, such as hypometric lines; there are evocative place names and makurakotoba; and there are evocative exclamations such as kamo, whose appeal is genuine even if incommunicable. In other words, the collection contains the appeal of an art at its pristine source with a romantic sense of venerable age and therefore of an ideal order since lost.

Martin Heinrich Klaproth

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Nihon Ōdai Ichiran

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Sangoku Tsūran Zusetsu

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Société Asiatique

The Société Asiatique is a French learned society dedicated to the study of Asia. It was founded in 1822 with the mission of developing and diffusing knowledge of Asia. Its boundaries of geographic interest are broad, ranging from the Maghreb to the Far East. The society publishes the Journal asiatique. At present the society has about 700 members in France and abroad; its library contains over 90,000 volumes.

Yun Sunji

Yun Sunji (1591–1666) was a scholar-official of the Joseon Dynasty Korea in the 17th century.

He was also diplomat and ambassador, representing Joseon interests in the 5th Edo period diplomatic mission to Japan.

Yury Golovkin

Count Yurii Alexandrovich Golovkin (Russian: Юрий Александрович Головкин) (1762–1846) was a Russian diplomat who served as Russian Minister (ambassador) in Stuttgart (1813–18) and in Vienna (1818–1822), but is best remembered for his leadership of the ambitious mission to China despatched in 1805.


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