Emil Bretschneider (4 July [O.S. 22 June] 1833 in Bankaushof
(now Benkavas muiža, Saldus novads, Latvia) – 12 May [O.S.
29 April] 1901 in Saint Petersburg) was a sinologist of Baltic
German ethnicity and a correspondent member of the Académie
française. He operated in the Russian Empire. He graduated from the
medical school of
University of Dorpat
University of Dorpat in
Dorpat Estonia, and was
first posted as a physician by the Russian legation to Tehran
(1862–65). From 1866 to 1883 he was posted as physician by the
Russian legation to Pekin.
2 Work in botany
4 See also
In 1866 the publication of book titled Cathay and the Way Thither by
Henry Yule stirred up Bretschneider's interest in
sinology. However, he felt that the extensive material contained in
Chinese books was under-utilized by western sinologists because many
of them did not read Chinese, and when they quoted Chinese material,
they relied on secondhand sources.
Emil Bretschneider while in Pekin
befriended the Archimandrite
Palladius Kafarov of the Russian Orthodox
Church Mission to Pekin, a famous sinologist in his own right;
Bretschneider also took advantage of the excellent library of the
Russian Orthodox mission with an extensive collection of Chinese books
on history, geography and botany, he began his own first hand research
into ancient Chinese literature, particularly in botany and geography.
In 1870 he published his first article in sinology: "Fu Sang-- Who
discovered America ?", followed by the publication in London of
"On the Knowledge Possessed by the Chinese of the Arabs and Arabian
Colonies Mentioned in Chinese Books".
In 1875, he published the article "Notes on Chinese medieval
travellers to the West" in Shanghai. In 1881 he published "Early
European researches into the flora of China (American Presbyterian
Mission Press, Shanghai), a topic often ignored by contemporary
sinologists due to their lack of training in botany. In this field
Bretschneider was a pioneer.
In 1888 he published Mediaeval Researches from Eastern Asiatic
Sources, Trübner Oriental Series, London: Trübner & Co.; this
book included his English translation of three important Chinese works
about the history and geography of central Asia, namely Travel to the
West by Yelü Chucai, Genghis Khan's chief adviser; Travels to the
West by the Taoist monk Kiu Chang Chun and The Peregrinations of Ye-Lu
Hi-Liang (the grandson of Yelu Chucai), translated from the Annals of
the Yuan dynasty.
He was a correspondent member of the Académie française.[citation
Work in botany
Bretschneider was less known as a botanist, having his own herbarium
in the mountains close to Pekin. Starting in 1880, Bretschneider sent
dried plant specimens to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Among the books he published in the field of botany are: "On the Study
and Value of Chinese Botanical Works" (1870); "Early European
Researches into the Flora of China" (1881); "Botanicum Sinicum"
(1882); and his vast "History of European Botanical Studies in China"
The plant species
Bretschneidera sinensis was named in Bretschneider's
Notes on Chinese Mediaeval Travellers to the West
Baltic German scientists
The standard author abbreviation Bretschn. is used to indicate this
person as the author when citing a botanical name.
^ Baltisches Biographisches Lexikon digital, Brettschneider, Alexander
^ a b c d Various (1901). "[In Memoriam for] Dr. Emil Bretschneider".
Bulletin of miscellaneous information / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
London: Darling & Son, Ltd., for His Majesty's Stationery Office:
201–2. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
^ E. Bretschneider, M.D. On Knowledge Possessed by the Ancient Chinese
of the Arabs and Arabian Colonies and Other Western Countries
Mentioned in Chinese Books, p. 17, London: Trübner & Co., 1871
^ E. Bretschneider, M.D: Notes on Chinese medieval travellers to the
West (Shanghai: 1875)
^ IPNI. Bretschn.
ISNI: 0000 0001 1026 4673
BNF: cb12763637m (data)