[St. Petersburg], 19 March 1854. 2 pp. 35x22 cm. Foldmarks, left margin with minor tear after being removed from a stub, Soviet bookshop’s stamp on verso, but overall a very good document.
Official rules regulating residence in the Kyakhta trade quarter, a major centre of Russian-Chinese tea trade in the 18-19th centuries. The rules were issued by the Siberian Committee (the main government body administering Siberia in the 1820-1860s), with the original being signed by the Committee’s chairman count A. Chernyshyov, and six members: count P. Kiselyov, count L. Perovsky, D. Bibikov, N. Annenkov, count V. Panin and P. Brok. The right to reside in Kyakhta was granted to local government officials, merchants, various types of workers, property owners and their family members. The paper regulates the issue of special passes for the visitors of Kyakhta; convicted smugglers were banned from entering the quarter.
“Kyakhta, also spelled K’achta, formerly (until 1934) Troitskosavsk, town, Buryatia, south-central Siberia, Russia. It lies in the basin of the Selenga River, on the frontier with Mongolia. The town is on the railway and motor road from Ulan-Ude to Ulaanbaatar; both routes follow an ancient caravan track that was the only recognized link between Russia and China in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Russian fortress of Troitskosavsk, founded in 1728 adjacent to Kyakhta village, was once a busy frontier post; it attained historical importance as a point of entry to the Russian Empire and was surpassed in this regard only by St. Petersburg and Riga” (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
“While the Trinity Fort fulfilled administrative and security functions, trade was handled by the adjacent settlement of Kyakhtinskaya Sloboda (Kyakhta Quarter), also founded in 1727. Here Russian merchants gathered to trade fur, leather, hides and cattle for a variety of Chinese goods, including silk and some porcelain, but with special emphasis on spices such as ginger and rhubarb, which were highly valued for medicinal properties. By the 1760s, Kyakhta Quarter had become the primary border point for trade with China, and the population and prosperity of both Russian settlements increased accordingly. Chinese merchants gathered across the border in a third settlement, known as Maimachin—a generic Chinese term meaning “trading center.” By the late 18th century, the most significant import by far was tea, which for almost a century Kyakhta provided not only to the enormous Russian market, but also to much of Europe” (Kyakhta: The Russian source for all the tea in China/ Russia beyond the headlines online).