St. Petersburg: V.F. Kirshbaum, 1912. Item #985
XVI, , 357, 29 pp. 23,5x17 cm. Very good. Loss of the small piece of the spine, edges and spine rubbed, paper label on the upper left corner of the front wrapper, inventory numbers on the front wrapper and title page.
First edition. With 16 full-page photographs. Scarce.
The first edition of the work by profound ethnologist Ivan Mainov (1861-1936), who originally was from the central Russia (Tula), but was forced to spend a lot of time in Siberia because of his revolutionary activity. In the 1870s he was agitating the populist social democratic ideas to the peasants in Saratov while studying jurisprudence. Since 1881 he became the member of terrorist ‘The Will of the People’ movement, responsible for the assassination attempts of both Alexander II and Alexander III. As a result, Mainov was sentenced to imprisonment than exile for 15 years.
Originally sent to Irkutsk outskirts, he attempted the escape and as a result was sent to the harsher place in Yakutsk. Being in and out of jail there he finally became the caretaker of the local museum and managed to help the expedition of the Russian Geographical Society with samples and statistics.
All in all, he spent 8 years in Yakutsk, that at the time was one of the hard-to-reach regions of Russian East with 6000 inhabitants. He has become a well-known amateur anthropologist and the member of Siberian branch of the Geographical Society. Interestingly he has not dropped his revolutionary urges at that time - in 1902 he founded the ’Siberian Union of Social Revolutionaries’, the union held 3 illegal typographies and was publishing the newspaper ‘The Echoes of the Fight’.
Eventually he has returned to St. Petersburg in 1911 when after the revolution of 1905 the situation has changed and although he could not participate in Parliamentary elections because of his convictions he has been named the influencer of the group of parliamentarians from Siberia. After revolution of 1917 has quit the politics mostly because of his wing of socialistic parties have been defeated, after which lived in Leningrad and concentrated on anthropology and the studies of the Arctic. Amazingly he died in 1938 undisturbed by the Bolshevik government, and was even recognized for his participation in ‘The Will of the People’.
The book itself is one of the first complex ethnographical, statistical and economical studies of Yakutsk region. A lot of attention is drawn to the differences between the native population and the Russian settlers, author goes into detail describing the traditions of the locals, including their system of law, the transformation from the nomadic lifestyle to the settled one, the statistics of the population.
He also goes into detail describing the sects located in the region. The main one being ’skoptsy’, the self-harm sect, that was popular in the late 18th century in Russia with the members required to sprinkle themselves to reach the salvation. The sect was suspended by the 1820s but the remains have existed in Yakutsk regions because of its hard-to-reach nature.
Mainov described the everyday living and the conditions of the hard labour settlers in the region as well.
The book came out as official publication of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society.
Wordlcat shows copies of the edition in University of Washington Libraries, Columbia University, University of Chicago Library, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Indiana University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Cambridge, State Library of Berlin, Library of the Free University Berlin, Bavarian State Library, German National Library of Economics, University of Erfurt, and International Institute of Social History.