ELTE Department of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies

In memoriam Kara György (1935-2022)

Kara György's curriculum vitae

György Kara (born June 23, 1935 in Budapest, Hungary), graduated from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest (1958), Ph. D. (ELTE, 1961), C. Sc. (Candidate of Linguistic Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1967), D. Sc. (Doctor of Philological Sciences, Leningrad State University, 1975), is Professor of Mongol and Inner Asian studies at Indiana University, Bloomington (began to teach at IU in 1986; tenured in 1992). Professor emeritus of ELTE, where he taught from 1958 till 2005 and was appointed full Professor in 1978. For three decades (1970–2000) he was chairman of the Department of Inner Asian Studies at ELTE, head of the Research Group for Altaic Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1973-2005), also chairman of ELTE’s Department of East Asian Studies and director of its Institute of Oriental Studies for several years. He is member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (since 2001) and member of the Committee of Oriental Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Expert in Mongolic languages and cultures, Altaic philology and Inner Asian cultural history, he contributed some four hundred publications on Mongolic, Turkic, Tungusic and Tibetan studies including the books Chants d’un barde mongol (Budapest 1970), Книги монгольских кочевников (Moscow 1972; its Chinese translation was printed in Huhhot, 2004), a Modern Mongol to Hungarian dictionary (Budapest 1998), a Hungarian anthology of Mongol literature (Budapest 1971), The Mongol and Manchu Manuscripts and Blockprints in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest 2000), Books of the Mongolian Nomads. More than Eight Centuries of Writing Mongolian (Bloomington, IN, 2005) as well as three volumes in collaboration with Peter Zieme of the Berlin Turfan Collection: Berliner Turfantexte VII-VIII (Berlin 1976, 1977), Ein uigurisches Totenbuch (Budapest 1978), a Hungarian translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Budapest 1984) and, with the assistance of Marta Kiripolská, the Dictionary of Sonom Gara’s Erdeni-yin Sang, a Middle Mongol Version of the Tibetan Sa skya Legs bshad. Mongol - English - Tibetan (Leiden: Brill, 2009). Also published, with numerous additional notes, the ‘Vocabulaires mongols des Polyglottes de Yemen’ deciphered by L. Ligeti (Acta Orient. Hung. 65 [2012], pp. 137–221) and ‘Alliteration in Mongol Poetry’ in Alliteration in Culture, ed. by J. Roper (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 156–179. His ‘Mediaeval Mongolian Documents from Khara Khoto and Eastern Turkestan in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies’ in Manuscripta Orientalia, 9 (2003), pp. 3–40, was translated into Chinese and published in Beijing, 2007. His works were published in French, German, Russian, English, Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, and Hungarian, in Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, Great Britain, Mongolia, The Netherlands, USA, Austria, Azerbaijan, China, India, Japan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, etc.

He took part in international congresses and conferences and was/is member of the editorial board of professional journals/serials in Hungary, Russia, USA and China. He did field work and research multiple times in Mongolia (between 1957 and 1987) and China (between 1958 and 1985), edited several important documents of Mongol language, cultural and literary history, translated old and new Mongol literature, recorded and analyzed oral texts, and described some hitherto unexplored dialects. He was a guest in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1963), spent a year as senior researcher in Europe’s largest collection of Mongol old books and manuscripts in St. Petersburg, Russia (1967-1968), three months as visiting scholar in Japan (1982), did regular research work in the Turfan Collection of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Germany, between the 1970s and 2002.

He is recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Forschungspreis, the Pole Star Order and Labor Merit Order of Mongolia, the Golden Medal of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference, the Alexander Csoma de Kőrös Prize, the Europa Publishing House Prize (Budapest), diploma of honor from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, etc. He is honorary member of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, of the International Association of Mongolian Studies (Ulaanbaatar) and of the Turkish Language Society (Türk Dil Kurumu, Ankara).

He taught Mongol, Tibetan and Tungusic courses at ELTE, teaches Altaic linguistics, Classical Mongol, Buriat, Manchu, Ewenki, Chuvash and Old Turkic structure, Old Turkic in various scripts, Mongolic languages and dialects, Shamanism and folk religion of the Mongols, their traditional civilization, literature, folklore, writing systems and phonetic history at IU. Developed several new courses in IU’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies.

His doctoral students, now his colleagues, among them Professors Önörbayan (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia), Á. Birtalan (Budapest, Hungary), Wonsoo Yu (Seoul, Korea), C.P. Atwood (Philadelphia, PA), J. Elverskog (Southern Methodist University, Texas), Á.B. Apatóczky (Budapest, Hungary) and A. Shimunek (Seoul, Korea; Naples, Italy), work on three continents.

Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies © 2022