Schlagintweit was the youngest of the five Schlagintweit brothers of Munich. His father was a wealthy eye-surgeon, his mother died when he was quite young, and he was tutored by Franz Joseph Lauth, later a noted Egyptologist. The brothers' interest in exploration was sparked by Alexander von Humboldt's Cosmos, the first volume of which appeared in 1845, and which led to their explorations of the Alps and in turn to Asia's mountains.
After his brother Hermann's death in 1882, he inherited Schloß Jägersburg, their large estate near Forchheim, and the brothers' collections and papers. Not an explorer himself, he sold 102 Tibetan manuscripts and block-books collected by his brothers to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University where they remain.
His work was later used by Helena Blavatsky as evidence for her interpretations of "esoteric Buddhism"[dead link] (Blavatsky herself did not approve of the term "esoteric Buddhism," to which she preferred "the Secret Doctrine," Occultism, or Sacred Science).
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- Kelat, the Brahui kingdom on the southern border of Iran, Simla, Govt. Central Branch Press, 1876.
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- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Schlagintweit". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Gabriel Finkelstein, "Conquerors of the Künlün"? The Schlagintweit Mission to High Asia, 1854-57", Hist. Sci., xxxviii (2000)