Behe, 18th c. author and translator

The recent batch of Manchu works put online by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin featured the Nadan tacihiyan be urunakū hūlabure bithe, a work translated by Behe (博赫). I learnt of its existence in Puyraimond’s catalogue of the BNF Manchu collection and had long wanted to see it since Behe is an author/translator I had encountered before. A member of the Mongol Bordered Yellow banner, Behe has indeed translated/authored several Manchu books during the second half of the 18th c.:

Nadan tacihiyan be urunakū hūlabure bithe (Ch. 七訓須讀)
The preface is dated QL 29 (1764) and signed kubuhe suwayan i monggo gūsai yafahan coohai uheri da yamun i ejeku hafan behe. tušan ci aljafi nimeku ujire šolo de isamjame araha.

Manju gisun be ja i gisurere bithe (Ch. 清語易言)
The preface is dated QL 31 (1766) and gives the same information as the preceding work.

Bayan wesihun jalafun baha i bithe (Ch. 延寿格言)
On the last page is given the date QL 44 (1779), Behe is then kubuhe suwayan i monggo gūsai. da tušan g’an su goloi jyli cin jeo i jeo i saraci behe ubaliyambufi folobuha.

Among these, the Manju gisun be ja i gisurere bithe is maybe the most interesting since this short treatise about the Manchu language gives us many indications about the pronunciation of the language (among other things). Thus, we learn that hendumbi was pronounced as henumi, umesi as emeši, yali as yanli, ainci as anci, saiyūn as sanyo, and so on.

I hope that more works by Behe are known to others or will surface eventually. In addition to the intrinsic interest of his works, his activity as a translator and author of Manchu works is a good reminder of the important part members of the Mongol banners played in the literary activity in Manchu.

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