Von Humboldt seeks help with comparative mythology

Autograph Letter, Signed, "A Humboldt," to French Orientalist and Early Sanskrit Scholar Antoine-Léonard de Chézy, on.

[Paris?]: c. 1811.

Price: $1,500.00


About the item

2 pp., with integral address leaf. 8vo. Von Humboldt seeks help with comparative mythology. Faint scattered foxing, horizontal fold.

Item #352727

Letter written in French to de Chézy, who was the first professor of Sanskrit at the College du France (beginning in 1815, although his formal study of the language began in 1803, after his studies of Arabic and Persian), suggesting that the Mexican glyph Ollin, for movement, ("This figure which has an enourmous tongue, this tongue that devours all" [in translation]) was created with the intention of resembling depictions of Vishnu. To bolster his intution, he lists lists of cognate words and concepts in Mexican (Nahuatl), Tibetan and Greek listing cognate terms in three languages as proof, requesting more information about the figurine, ideally a reference about it from the Sanskrit, and sending regards to Mr. Haase.

Transaltion, in part reads: ". . . I believe as you do that traces [outline?] of Vishnu have nothing to do with the Ollin figure and that the resemblance is only accidental. However, please cast your eyes on the [entire?] figure and you see that it was made to resemble Vishnu. Besides, I don't need this proof. Other signs suffice for me: [three columns of terms in Mexican, Tibetan and Greek showing cognate relationships] . . . . Would you . . . tell me again a few more words about this figure which has an enormous tongue . . . . Perhaps cite some passage in Sanskrit where this idea is expressed. . . ."

Another hand has docketed "very probably 1811 in Paris" beneath the signature.