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Henrik H. Sørensen

(b Kyoto, 1876; d Beppu, Ōita Prefect., 1948).

Japanese collector, geographer and Buddhist priest. In 1901, while studying in London, the young Otani became acquainted with Stein, Sir (Marc) Aurel, who had just returned from his first Central Asian expedition, and was inspired to undertake similar excavations. In 1902 Otani and four Japanese assistants set out for Central Asia, where they stayed until 1904, having worked in various sites in Khotan, Kuccha and Turfan (see Astana). A second, smaller expedition was organized in 1908–9 by Otani under the leadership of Zuichō Tachibana and Eizaburō Nomura, who excavated several sites on both the northern and the southern routes of the Silk Route. Finally, a third expedition was launched in 1910; this lasted nearly five years, ending in 1914. Although none of the Otani expeditions was conducted on a genuinely scientific basis, they led to the discovery of a considerable number of artefacts, including clay and terracotta sculptures, fragments of wall paintings, silk objects, as well as numerous manuscripts in Chinese and several Central Asian languages. Today most of the material collected by the Otani expeditions is in three collections; the Lüxun Museum in Liaoning, the National Museum of Korea in Seoul and the National Museum in Tokyo (...