Hoover Institution Library Receives Rare Publications of the Russian Orthodox Mission in China

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Hoover Institution Library Receives Rare Publications of the Russian Orthodox Mi
Hoover Institution Library Receives Rare Publications of the Russian Orthodox Mi

Prince Andre Lobanov-Rostovsky was a specialist on Russo-Asian relations and a professor of Russian history at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles. Several years ago his papers were donated to the Hoover Archives; that gift has now been followed by his library. Among the interesting and rare books received is a set of publications of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking (Beijing).

The Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking was established by Peter the Great to serve the Orthodox residents in China. Aside from its spiritual mission, it became a center of learning and scholarship on China; by the early twentieth century it was publishing not only spiritual literature but also material on various aspects of Chinese life and society. These publications are significant in that they illustrate the nexus where religion and international affairs meet.

The Hoover Institution Library already holds several of the mission’s publications, making the new acquisitions a natural fit. The new materials include a treatise on Chinese banking; a summary of Chinese military theory of the 1840s; a polemic against Daoism from a Buddhist perspective; a Russian translation of the diary of a Chinese administrator banished from Beijing in the nineteenth century; a biography of Archimandrite Petr Kamenskii, the tenth head of the Russian Orthodox Mission; and an examination of the teachings of Confucius. The two last-named works are not only new to Hoover but unique to it; the other titles are held by only one or two other select institutions. Another rare and valuable item is a complete, four-volume set of the proceedings of members of the Russian Orthodox Mission, 1909–10 (Trudy chlenov Rossiiskoi dukhovnoi missii v Pekinie), with articles on all aspects of Asian life, from ethnographic descriptions of rituals to analyses of the silk industry to studies the of Muslim minority in China and translations of oriental historical sources, such as a Mongol tale of Genghis Khan.

Lobanov-Rostovsky’s library also contains a report of the expedition of General Staff captain Popov, which traveled from the Sayan mountain range through Mongolia in 1902: the report describes the land and its inhabitants from a military point of view. In the United States, only Harvard (in addition to Hoover) owns a copy of this fascinating volume.