Enzo Gualtiero Bargiacchi Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente, Roma The works of Ippolito Desideri (16841733)1 lay forgotten in the archives for a very long time;2 had they been studied, European studies of Tibet and Buddhism would have begun a century earlier. The partial publication of his Relazione in 1904 was not enough to make scholars of Buddhism interested in the subject and resulted only a modest enthusiasm in the geographical and anthropological fields.3 Later the Swedish geographer and explorer Sven Hedin (18651952) stated that Desideri "had accomplished a journey which ought to make his name forever famous,"4 and also that "by far the greatest part of Desideri's narrative is a description of the cult and religion of the Tibetans, which is not less admirable than the geographical part."5 But it was yet another geographer and explorer, Filippo De Filippi (18691938), who made available the Jesuit missionary's work by publishing an English version of the Relazione6 in 1932. Charles Oldham recognized that "there will no longer be any excuse for the ignorance and misconceptions regarding Desideri, to which Cornelis Wessels and De Filippi have drawn such pointed attention."7 In reality, however, Desideri's work would still be awarded inadequate
Buddhist-Christian Studies – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 17, 2009
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