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200 years since the death of the pioneer of European indology
Besides native Croatian he spoke Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portugese and English. As a Carmelitan missionary Vezdin was sent to India in 1776, where he learned Sanskrit and several Indian dialects.
Vezdin is the author of Sidharubam seu gramatica samscrdamica,
the first printed Sanskrit grammar in Europe, published in 1790 in Rome.
He wrote numerous works on Indian culture, and in addition to Sanskrit also learned Malayalam, the Malabar coastal language, in which he wrote his works as well. At the request of a local ruler, King Rama Varmer of the Travancore, he wrote an English-Portugese-Malayalam grammar. The King, enthuseasted with Vezdin's fluency in Malayalam, asked him to be his teacher of English and Portugese in his palace in Padmanabpuram. Vezdin's works are kept in Rome, Vienna and Uppsala.
Filip Vezdin, pioneer of European indology,
Vezdin's best known work is Systema brahmanicum liturgicum, mythologicum, civile ex monumentis Indicis Musei Borgian Velitris, Rome 1791, dealing with literature, mythology and civil order of brahmanic India, customs and the way of life. His most interesting and most popular work is his travel-book Viaggio alle Indie orientali, Rome 1796. He also published two philological studies about connections between Hungarian and Laponian languages. In 1999 Vezdin's image was carved into the white marble memorial plaque in the City Museum of Trivandrum, the capital of the Indian state of Kerala. He is considered as one of pioneers of European indology.
About twenty of his books were published already during his lifetime. Some of them were translated into German, French, English and Swedish. It is therefore no surprise that he was a member of the Royal Academy in Naples, and of the Academy "Dei Volsci" in Velletri and Padova.
A postage stamp issued by a Cultural Association, Hof
am Leithaberge, Austria in 2006, commemorating
200 years since Vezdin's death.
Many thanks to Dr Luca Leoni, Velletri.
In 2006 a memorial tablet dedicated to Filip Fezdin was placed in Velletri, a town near Rome, on the building of Museo Borgia (in Via della Trinita), where Vezdin had been working. The tablet mentions his Croatian descent: "Croato del Burgenland". Also, on that occasion an Italian translation of the monograph by Dr. Branko Franolic about Filip Vezdin was promoted in the City Council of Velletri ("Paolino di San Bartolomeo, pioniere dell'indologia nell'Europa di fine Settecento", translated from the English original by Dr Luca Leoni).
Memorial tablet dedicated to Filip Vezdin in Velletri, Italy, 2006
Many thanks to Dr Luca Leoni, Velletri, for the photo and his translation:
TO VELLETRI'S VOLSCIAN ACADEMIC
PAOLINO DI SAN BARTOLOMEO
IN THE WORLD IVAN FILIP VEZDIN
MISSIONARY IN INDIA
PIONEER OF INDOLOGY
FATHER OF INDOEUROPEAN PHILOLOGY
FAITHFUL AND DEVOTED COLLABORATOR
OF THE LEARNED PATRON
CARDINAL STEFANO BORGIA
HE MASTERED HIS STUDIES
IN THE FAMOUS BORGIA MUSEUM
FORMERLY PLACED HERE
THE CITY OF VELLETRI
Dr Luca Leoni (initiator of installing Vezdin's memorial tablet, and of the Filip Vezdin's Day in Velletri), Dr Viktor Tadic (Counsellor, Croatian Embassy at the Holy See), Father Paulose Ikareth and Father Stephen Watson (Carmelites like Filip Vezdin, the first from Kerala, the second from
U.S.A. and responsible for Culture in their Order), Dr Bruno Cesaroni (Mayor of Velletri),
Sister Janet (from Madras, India) and Sister Valeriana (from Kerala).
Filip Vezdin, portrait from 1793 probably by J.H. Cabott (1754-1841),
once in cardinal Stefano Borgia's library in "Palazzo Altemps", Rome,
now conserved in "Propaganda Fide", Rome
(many thanks to Dr Luca Leoni, Velletri)
Vezdin's research gave a great impetus to investigation of culture and civilization of India in Europe. In 1999 the following text was written in the Sanskrit, Malayalam, Croatian and English languages on memorial tablet in the City Museum of Tivandrum, capital of the state of Kerale in India:
|Ivan Filip Vezdin, Burgenland Croat, Discalceate Carmelite, with the monastic name Paulin of St. Bartholomew, a missionary in Malabar from 1776 to 1789. The author of the first printed Sanskrit grammar and forerunner of Indian and Indo-European studies to the great honour of his homeland and the Croatian and Indian people. |
|Ivan Filip Vezdin, gradiscanski Hrvat, bosonogi karmelicanin, 1776. - 1789., misionarski je djelovao na Malabaru. Pisac prve tiskane sanskrtske gramatike i preteca indijskih i indoeuropskih studija na veliku cast svojoj domovini te hrvatskom i indijskom narodu. |
In January 2006 a memorial Mass was held by Dr Luca Leoni in honour ofFilip Vezdin in the Cathedral of Velletri (near Rome). A memorial mass was also held in Vezdin's birthplace in Austria.