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Christian Gottlieb Teichelmann

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Christian Gottlieb Teichelmann (15 December 1807 – 31 May 1888), also spelt Christian Gottlob Teichelmann, was a Lutheran missionary who worked among Australian Aboriginal people in South Australia. He was a pioneer in describing the Kaurna language, after his work begun at the Piltawodli Native Location in Adelaide, with fellow-missionary Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann.



Teichelmann came from humble origins. He was born in the Saxon village of Dahme (part of Prussia from 1815), the son of a master clothmaker, and, after an early schooling, was apprenticed as a carpenter's assistant at the age of 14. After several years practising his trade in Saxony and Prussia, he took private lesson to qualify for entry into the Royal Building Trades School in Berlin, where he studied from 1830 to 1831. During this period Teichelmann, after mixing with students who had missionary contacts, enrolled in Jaenicke's Mission school in 1831, where Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann was a fellow-student. There he received a thorough education in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English, together with theological and historical studies.[1]

Teichelmann and Schürmann then enrolled in the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society's seminary at Dresden in 1836, obtaining their ordination as Lutheran pastors in early 1838. Later that year they travelled to Australia on the Pestonjee Bomanjee, arriving in Adelaide on 12 October.[1] One of their fellow passengers happened to be George Gawler who was there to take up his appointment as the new Governor of South Australia.[1]

Missionary and language work


Notable problems arose when the evangelical Gawler, an evangelical enthusiast himself who had proven supportive of their work, was replaced by George Grey, who insisted rather that Aboriginal people be instructed only in English, preferably in schools run by the state. The German missionaries at the time were the only ones thoroughly at home in native languages and gifted with a practical empathy for the customs and modes of Aboriginal life.[2]

Schürmann and Teichelmann ran a school for Kaurna people at Piltawodli (located in the Adelaide Park Lands), and gained most of their knowledge of the Kaurna language from three respected elders: Mullawirraburka ("King John" / "Onkaparinga Jack"), Kadlitpinna ("Captain Jack") and Ityamaiitpinna ("[King Rodney"). They recorded around about 3000 words, a sketch grammar, hundreds of phrases and sentences along with English translations, traditional songlines, and textual illustrations of differences among dialects. They also created Kaurna translations of six German hymns as well as the Ten Commandments.[3] The records compiled by them have proven highly valuable in projects to reconstruct the language.[4][3]



Teichelmann married Margaret Nicholson on 25 December 1843, and they had fifteen children together.[5] One son, Ebenezer Teichelmann, became a surgeon, mountaineer and conservationist in New Zealand.[6]




  1. ^ a b c Kneebone 2005.
  2. ^ Hill 2002, pp. 524–525.
  3. ^ a b Amery, Rob (9 December 2013). "Kaurna language (Kaurna warra)". Adelaidia. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  4. ^ Lockwood, Christine (2017). "4. Early encounters on the Adelaide Plains and Encounter Bay". In Brock, Peggy; Gara, Tom (eds.). Colonialism and its Aftermath: A history of Aboriginal South Australia. Wakefield Press. pp. 65–81. ISBN 9781743054994.
  5. ^ "Teichelmann, Christian Gottlob (1807-1888) | German Missionaries in Australia". missionaries.griffith.edu.au. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  6. ^ Bob McKerrow (2005). Teichelmann: The story of Ebenezer Teichelmann, pioneer New Zealand mountaineer, photographer, surgeon and conservationist (1st ed.). New Delhi: India Research Press. ISBN 81-87943-87-4. LCCN 2006413582. OCLC 71237778. OL 9093493M. Wikidata Q104825444.



Further reading