Velgus Viktor Andreevich

5 September 1922 (1922-09-05), Moscow — 2 July 1980 (1980-07-03), Leningrad


Biography, education, career:

Viktor Velgus was born in Moscow. His father, a Chinese called Zhou, died soon after he was born, his mother died in 1924. He was adopted by another Chinese, a participant of the October Revolution and a commander of one of the Red Army voluntary groups, and his Russian wife (T.A. Velgus). At the age of five he was taken to Vladivostok and in 1929 – to China, where he lived in Shandong province, Shanghai, and then in Qingdao and Tianjin. He worked and attended Chinese, Russian and Japanese educational institutions. His early youth and school years contemporized with the Japanese occupation of China. After World War II he took up Soviet citizenship. During this period, he acts as a translator for the first time, in particular, working for the Society of USSR Citizens. In 1947 he came to the USSR among the first Russian repatriates at the invitation of Academician V.M. Alekseyev (with whom he struck up acquaintance through correspondence). For some time, he worked at a chemical plant in Molotov (now Perm). In March 1948 he was admitted as a first-year external student to the Chinese Department of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Leningrad State University, where he simultaneously taught the Chinese colloquial language. In 1949 he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years of corrective labour camps. He served his exile in Kazakhstan. In 1955 he was released and returned to Leningrad. In 1959, at the initiative of D.A. Olderogge, a Correspondent Member of the Academy of Sciences, he was invited to work at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Ethnography, USSR Academy of Sciences, where he studied medieval Chinese sources on the history of cultural ties between China and Africa. This work was an important part of a pioneer scientific project initiated by D.A. Olderogge. Unresolved fundamental problems of African historiography required to create a corpus of sources on the history of peoples living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The non-literate character of the culture of these peoples had for many years reduced the source base of their history to archeological and ethnographical materials and oral historical tradition. In this context the idea of a thorough account of written sources of other peoples, who have preserved some information about Africa in their literary monuments, became extremely relevant. The research became a part of UNESCO’s project aimed at writing A General History of Africa. At the same time V.A. Velgus taught at Leningrad State University, wrote articles on Chinese ethnography, source studies, and medieval Chinese literature. He translated the works of a number of Chinese writers of the 20th century as well as the maxims by Lu Xun (1881-1936) and poems by Li Qingzhao, a poet in the Song Dynasty (1084-1147), and Chinese ancient songs. He was an expert on Chinese material and spiritual culture. In 1962, on the eve of his fortieth birthday, he graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Leningrad State University and in 1966 defended his Candidate’s Dissertation titled Early Medieval Chinese Word about Africa and Marine Connections in the Basins of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans (Chinese Sources Before the 11th Century), which was published six months before his death. He started writing the second part of the monograph dedicated to the achievements of Chinese navigation from the 11th through the 15th century, but didn’t manage to fulfil his idea. His articles on this issue were included in Medieval China, a book published posthumously. In 1980 the monograph was nominated for Semyonov Gold Medal of the USSR Geographical Society, but his unexpected death prevented the discussion of this nomination.

Areas of expertise: History and ethnography of Chinese peoples; Spiritual culture; history of navigation in the Indian and the Pacific oceans according to medieval Chinese sources; medieval literature of China and its bibliography

Major scientific achievements:

Several series of works on the history of navigation in the Indian and the Pacific oceans according to medieval Chinese sources, on Chinese literature and ethnography, brilliant translations of Chinese prose and poetry.

Membership in academic organizations and unions:

Russian Geographical Society.

Major publications:

• Ли Жу-чжэнь. Цветы в зеркале. М., 1959 (совместно с Г. О. Монзелером, О.Л. Фишман и И. Э. Циперович) [Li Ju-chen. Flowers in the Mirror. M., 1959 (co-authored with G.O. Monzeler, O.L. Fishman and I.E. Tsiperovich)];

• Из истории возникновения и развития китайского рассказа // Народы Азии и Африки. 1961. № 3. С. 147—156 (совместно с И. Э. Циперович) [From the History of Emergence and Development of Chinese Story // Narody Azii I Afriki (Peoples of Asia and Africa). 1961. №3. Pp. 147-156 (co-authored with I.E. Tsiperovich)];

• Удивительные истории нашего времени и древности. Т. 1—2. М., 1962 (совместно с И. Э. Циперович) [Wonderful Stories of Our Time and Antiquity. V. 1-2. M., 1962 (co-authored with I.E. Tsiperovich)];

• О средневековых китайских известиях об Африке и некоторых вопросах их изучения // Africana VI: Культура и языки народов Африки. М.; Л., 1966. С. 84—103 [On Medieval Chinese Word on Africa and Some Issues of Its Study // Africana VI: Culture and Languages of the Peoples of Africa. M.; L., 1966. Pp. 84-103];

• Страны Мо-линь и Бо-са-ло (Лао-бо-са) в средневековых китайских известиях об Африке // Там же. С. 104—121 [The Countries of Mo-ling and Bo-sa-lo (Lao-bo-sa) in Medieval Chinese Word on Africa // Ibid. Pp. 104-121];

• Относительно кораблей «бо» в китайской литературе ранее XI в. // Страны и народы Востока. 1968. Вып. 6. С. 148—151 [On Bo Ships in Chinese Literature Before the 11th Century // Strany I narody vostoka (Countries and Peoples of the East). 1968. Iss.6. Pp. 148-151];

• Маршрут плаваний из Восточной Африки в Персидский залив в VIII в. // Africana VII: Этнография, история, лингвистика. Л., 1969. С. 102—126 [Navigation Route From East Africa to the Persian Gulf in the 8th Century // Africana VII: Ethnography, History, Linguistics. L., 1969. Pp. 102-126];

• Исследование некоторых спорных вопросов истории мореходства в Индийском океане // Там же. С. 127—176 [A Research on Some Controversial Issues of the History of Navigation in the Indian Ocean // Ibid. Pp. 127-176];

• Понятие левирата в китайских источниках // Страны и народы Востока. 1971. Вып. 11. С. 25—30 [The Concept of Levirate in Chinese Sources // Strany i Narody Vostoka (Countries and Peoples of the East). 1971. Iss. 11. Pp. 25-30];

• Александрия в ранних китайских известиях // Историко-филологические исследования. М., 1974. С. 381—388 [Alexandria in Early Chinese Word // Istoriko-filologicheskie issledovaniya (Historical and Philological Studies). M., 1974. Pp. 381-388];

• Some Problems of the History of Navigation in the Indian and Pacific Oceans // The Countries and Peoples of the East: Selected Articles. Moscow, 1974. Pp. 45—90;

• Разоблачение божества: Средневек. кит. повести. М., 1977 (совместно с И. Э. Циперович) [Unmasking the Deity: Medieval Chinese Stories. M., 1977 (co-authored with I.E. Tsiperovich)];

• Известия о странах и народах Африки и морские связи в бассейнах Тихого и Индийского океанов: (Китайские источники ранее XI в.). М., 1978 [The Word on Countries and Peoples of Africa and Navigational Ties in the Basins of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans: (Chinese Sources before the 11th century). M., 1978];

• Wang Tang. T’ang yu lin (“Forest of T’ang Period Legends”). P. 97—98; Chou Ch’ű-fei. Ling-wai tai ta (“Instead of Replies to Friends and Acquaintances about the South-Western Regions beyond the Mountain-Passes”). P.158—159; Hsu Ching. Hsűan-ho feng-shih Kao-li t’u-ching (“Illustrated Description of the Chinese Embassy to Korea during the Reign of Hsűan-ho”). P.159—160; Chao Ju-kua. Chu-fan chih (“Description of Foreign Peoples”). P. 161; P’ang Yűan-ying. Wen-ch’ang tsa-lu (“Various Notes Taken at the Department of Ministries”). P. 191—192; Yeh T’ing-kuei. Hai-lu sui shih (“Sea of Petty Things and Connected Notes”). P. 323—325; Chu Yű. P’ing-chou k’o-t’an (“From the Chats in P’ing-chou”). P. 333—334; Chou Hui. Ch’ing-po tsa-chih (“Notes by one who Lives near the Gate of Ch’ing-po”). P. 337—338; Yűeh K’o. T’ing-shih (“Stories Noted at Home on a Small Table”). P. 338—339; Li Shih. Hsu Po-wu chih (“A Continuation of Notes on the Knowledge of Things”). P. 343—344; Li Ch’ing-chao. Sou-yű tz’u (“Verses of Rocks Ringing as Jade Because of a Torrent Falling upon them”). P. 466—467 // A Sung Bibliography (Bibliographie des Sung). Hong Kong, 1978;

Средневековый Китай: Исследования и материалы по истории, внешним связям, литературе. М., 1987 [Medieval China: Research and Materials on History, Foreign Relations and Literature. Moscow, 1987];

Жемчужная рубашка: Старинные китайские повести / Составл., предисл. И.Э.Циперович. Пер. с кит. и коммент. В.А.Вельгуса и И.Э.Циперович. СПб.: Центр «Петербургское Востоковедение», 1999 [Pearl Shirt: Ancient Chinese Novellas / Compiled, foreword by Tsiperovich, I.E.. Translation from Chinese and comments by Velgus, V.A. and Tsiperovich, I.E. SPb.: Centre Peterburgskoe vostokovedenye, 1999]

Библиография Bibliography.

About V. Velgus:

Баньковская М.В. Семь ярких вспышек // Петербургское востоковедение. Вып.4. СПб.. 1993. С.431—434 [Bankovskaya, M.V. Seven Bright Flashes // Peterburgskoye Vostokovedenie. Iss. 4. SPb. 1993. Pp. 431-434];

Вельгус Виктор Андреевич (1922—1980). // Люди и судьбы.Биобиблиографический словарь востоковедов — жертв политического террора в советский период (1917 — 1991) / Издание подготовили Я.В. Васильков и М.Ю. Сорокина. СПб., 2003. С.96 — 97 [Viktor A. Velgus (1922—1980). // People and Fates. A Bibliographical Dictionary of Orientalists, Victims of Political Terror in the Soviet Era (1917-1991) / Comp. by Y.V. Vassilkov and M.Y. Sorokina. SPb., 2003. Pp.96 — 97];

• Кроль Ю. Л., Меньшиков Л. Н. Памяти Виктора Андреевича Вельгуса // Народы Азии и Африки. 1981. № 1. С. 244—247 [Krol Yu.L., Menshikov L.N. In Memoriam of Viktor Andreyevich Velgus // Narody Azii I Afriki (Peoples of Asia and Africa). 1981. № 1. Pp. 244-247];

Меньшиков Л.Н. Виктор Андреевич Вельгус, его жизнь и деятельность // Вельгус В.А. Средневековый Китай. Москва, 1987. С. 169—178 [Menshikov, L.N. Viktor Andreevich Velgus: His Life and Work // Velgus, V.A. Medieval China. Moscow, 1987. Pp. 169-178];

• Циперович И. Э. Воспоминания о Викторе Вельгусе // Проблемы Дальнего Востока. 1990. № 4. С. 119—130 [Tsiperovich, I.E. Reminiscences of Viktor Velgus // Problemy Dalnego Vostoka (Problems of the Far East). 1990. № 4. P. 119-130];

• Матвеев В. В. Воспоминания о Вельгусе // Там же. № 5. С. 132—140 [Matveev V.V. Reminiscences of Velgus // Ibid. № 5. P. 132-140];

Циперович И. Э. К истории «Прошения о помиловании» и некоторые сведения из биографии В. А. Вельгуса // Петербургское Востоковедение. 1993. Вып. 4. С. 445—450 [Tsiperovich, I.E. Towards “Petition for Clemency” and Some Facts from V. A. Velgus’s Biography // Peterburgskoye Vostokovedenie. 1993. Iss. 4. Pp. 445—450].

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