Johannes Klatt’s Jaina-Onomasticon

Published: 26.04.2017

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London

The indologist and librarian Johannes Emil Klatt (1852-1908) dedicated his short life to the study of the historical records of the Jainas. Klatt left behind the nearly completed manuscript of his monumental Jaina-Onomasticon of 1892, a 4132 page long anthology of proper names (Greek: onoma) and biographies of Jaina authors, texts and place names with explanatory historical notes, handwritten in English. The aim of this project, funded by Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant  RPG-2012-620, is to produce a print edition with a historical introduction to this unsurpassed work, a recognized classic in the fields of Indology and the History of Religion, and indispensable source of reference. A second objective is the investigation of the text as a source for the study of Jaina social and intellectual history and of the history of Oriental Studies in Europe.


In the absence of extensive archaeological evidence, monastic chronologies and hagiographies, inscriptions and the information in the colophons of handwritten or printed Jaina texts are almost the only sources available for the reconstruction of Jaina religious and social history. This fact was highlighted by Walther Schubring (1935 § 4; 2000 § 7) who, in his classical work on the Śvetāmbara Doctrines of the Jainas, emphasised that '[a]ll history of literature, a building, as it were, has for its ground-floor the bio-bibliographical materials.' Schubring lamented the early demise of Johannes Klatt, whose handwritten manuscript is still unpublished. 'Jain research would have enjoyed the great luck of having them [the Jaina bio-biographical materials] at its disposal, if Klatt's Onomasticon had been completed and printed',  Schubring wrote. 'Eight volumes from his own hand in alphabetical order contain what was within his reach to collect data concerning Jain authors and works. But he fell severely ill and never recovered. The work was estimated to fill some 1,100 pages in print, but no more than 55 pages have been printed as a specimen thanks to Weber and Leumann' (ibid.).

In 2010, the Centre of Jaina Studies (CoJS) at SOAS initiated the first steps towards the publication of Klatt's work. With the generous support of the Library of the Asien-Afrika-Institut in Hamburg, which kindly made the original manuscript available, Xerox copies and an initial trial for transcription of the text were funded through SOAS Faculty of Arts and Humanities funds and overheads of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Grant AH/I002405/1. In 2012 the project was awarded a three-year Research Project Grant by the Leverhulme Trust.

(From left) Birte Plutat,
of the Library of the Asien-Afrika-Institut,
University of Hamburg,
Kornelius Krümpelmann, Peter Flügel.

Peter Flügel, principal investigator, and Kornelius Krümpelmann, research assistant, are researchers and co-editors of Johannes Klatt's Jaina Onomasticon. J. C. Wright and Renate Söhnen-Thieme, both of the SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies, are advisors of the project.

The project is inspired by the overall vision of the principal investigator to reconstruct on the basis of biographical, legal and other sources the yet unwritten social and religious history of the Jaina tradition in the early modern and modern periods which culminated in the recognition of Jainism as a world religion all over the globe. It is hoped that the published English text will serve as a valuable research tool to future generations of scholarship.

CoJS Newsletter • March 2013 • Issue 8
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Centre Of Jaina Studies
  2. Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter
  3. CoJS Newsletter
  4. Dr. Kornelius Krümpelmann
  5. Dr. Peter Flügel
  6. Dr. Renate Söhnen-Thieme
  7. JAINA
  8. Jaina
  9. Jainism
  10. Johannes Klatt
  11. London
  12. SOAS
  13. Schubring
  14. Walther Schubring
  15. Śvetāmbara
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