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On the 17th of February 2012 Katalin Uray-Kőhalmi, the internationally recognized excellent representative of Inner-Asian philology, ethnography and Siberia research, passed away at the age of 86.
She was born in 1926 in Vienna into a middle-class family. After spending her first years in Vienna the family resettled in Budapest where she attended high school. She graduated from the Evangelical Girls’ High School of Deák Square, and subsequently studied Inner-Asian philology (Mongolian, Manchu) and ethnography at the Pázmány Péter University under the supervision of outstanding masters such as Lajos Ligeti, Gyula Németh and Gyula Ortutay. It was during her university studies that she met her future husband, Géza Uray.
In 1949 she became a fellow-researcher of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and worked in the Library of the Oriental Collection and in the Institute of Linguistics till 1987, when she retired as a senior research fellow. She was associated with several universities till her death: as a honorary docent of Szeged University and visiting professor at the Inner-Asian Department of the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, and at the Institute of Tibetology of Vienna University.
She visited Mongolia in 1957 for the first time for a field research trip, and returned on several subsequent occasions. Although several papers were published about her field research trips, she herself regarded the one about the language of the Kamnigans to be the most important.
In 1968 she defended her candidate dissertation: Archery Equipment of the Nomads of the Steppe, that provided the basis for the successful book published as the 12th volume of the series, the Kőrösi Csoma Kiskönyvtár: Steppék nomádja lóháton, fegyverben (Nomads of the Steppes on horseback, armed), Akadémiai Kiadó 1972. Her life’s work is very rich and concerns several aspects of Inner-Asian philology. Her bibliography contains more than 170 items. Her book of the mythology of the Manchu-Tungus people is a standard work on the subject (Mythologie. I. Abteilung Die Alten Kulturvölker 27. Lieferung. Hrsg. von Egidius Schmalzriedt und Hans Wilhelm Haussig, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1998).
She was the member of the editorial boards of several scientific journals, among them the Acta Orientalia Hung. and of the international scientific journal of shaman research, The Shaman.
Her tireless work has been recognized by several honours.
Her passing away brings to a close the work of one of the most outstanding figures in Hungarian Oriental Studies.
Biography, bibliography and further material concerning the work of Katalin Uray-Kőhalmi are given on the website: www.kohalmi.innerasia.hu