Pallady (Kafarov) of Beijing

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Archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov), head of the thirteenth Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Peking (1850-58).

Archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov) of Beijing was the leader of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing, China on two occasions during the middle of the nineteenth century, the thirteenth and fifteenth missions. Spending thirty three years at the mission, his scholarly studies of China and the Chinese culture as well as his development of a phonetic translation system brought him distinction as one of the fathers of Sinology.


Peter Ivanovich Kafarov was born in 1817. His father was a priest in the Church of Russia. After completing his basic education in the local church schools he entered the Kazan Theological Seminary and then the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. While attending the theological schools, Peter was tonsured a monk with the name of Pallady and ordained to the priesthood.

After graduating from St. Petersburg Academy, Fr. Pallady was assigned, in 1839, to the Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing, China as one of the members of the clergy under the leader of the twelfth mission, Arch. Policarp (Tugarinov). Pallady remained in Beijing until 1847 at which time Arch. Policarp recommended Pallady to succeed him as head of the mission. In preparation for assuming the responsibilities as head of mission, Pallady returned to St Petersburg.

While in Russia, in 1848, Pallady was raised to the dignity of archimandrite, the rank required for the head of mission. In 1850, Arch. Pallady returned to Beijing, now as head of the thirteenth mission. He remained in China until 1858 before returning to Russia. Arch. Pallady did not stay in Russia long. In 1865, he was again appointed to the Beijing mission as head of the fifteenth mission. In 1878, Arch. Pallady became seriously ill and doctors urged that he return to Russia by sea. He did not reach Russia as he died en-route in Marseilles, France on December 6, 1878. He was buried in Nice, France.


Arch. Pallady’s work at the mission followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, chiefly Arch. Iakinf (Bichurin). He studied Buddhism and Chinese history and produced a number of writings on these subjects. These works have been collected into The Works of the Members of the Orthodox Mission, Vol. I-IV and in Elucidations of Marco Polo’s Travels in North China (Journal of the North China Branch of the R. A. S. Vol. X (1876)). His translations of the Scriptures into Chinese included the Book of Psalms and the Book of Services. Arch. Pallady was a tireless student of the Chinese language. His major effort was the development of a phonetic system (pinyin) for rendering Mandarin Chinese using the Russian alphabet. His chief work was the development of a Chinese-Russian Phonetic Dictionary that contained explanations of almost 12,000 Chinese characters. The dictionary was published after his death.


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