St. Petersburg: tip. Korolyeva i Ko. 1853. Item #171
P.1: , IV, 199 pp., 2 ill.; P.2: , IV, 213 pp., 2 ill. Octavo. Contemporary bright red quarter leather with cloth boards, gilt-lettering and gilt decorations on the spine and decorative frames in blind on boards. Restorations of spine, binding is mildly rubbed, Soviet bookshop’s ink stamps, soiling on endpapers, spots and occasional foxing of the text, small tears of endpapers, light damp stains in the end of the book, two small tears of the last page (p.199) and restored tear on p.17.
First edition. Rare.
Egor Petrovich Kovalevsky (1809-1811) was a Russian explorer, writer, orientalist, a member of Academy of Science and Russian Geographical Society (1847). In 1849 he escorted Christian mission to Beijing and was able to convince authorities to let Russian caravans pass through using easy ‘merchant’s path’ instead of almost impassable Argali sands which gave Russians a big advantage for a trade and enriched geographical knowledge of Mongolia. Even more important was Treaty of Kulja concluded with his assistance in 1851. Under its terms Kulja (modern Yining) and Chuguchak (modern Tacheng) were opened to Russian trade. The treaty was preceded by a gradual Russian advance throughout the nineteenth century into Kazakhstan in direct competition with British efforts to open China.
This edition includes Kovalevsky’s account of the journey, his impressions of China and itinerary from Russian border to Beijing. The last one consists of a date, a name of the station with its short description, distance in horse or camel miles, plants and water on the sight, direction of the journey and its description, thermometer, barometer, hygrometer measurements. In the main part Kovalevsky described interesting things he saw in Mongolia and China alongside with description of each phase of their travel. While in Mongolia he described their folktales, origin of the people etc. In China, for example, he found among the most interesting things an imbalance in the was the country was overpopulated. The whole chapter was dedicated to opium, another - to a tea. He wrote a lot about Russian in China - schools of Russian language in Beijing, diplomatic compounds and of Russian Orthodox Church, cemeteries and churches, among most interesting - Korean and Tibetan visits of Russian compound.
WorldCat locates four copies of this edition.