Saint Petersburg: Typ. of Korolyov and Co., 1853.
First and only edition. Octavo. 2 vols. bound together. , iii, 199; , iii, 213, [1 - errata] pp. With four tinted lithographed plates. Period Russian brown quarter sheep with marbled papered boards; gilt-lettered title on the spine. Original publishers’ wrappers for both parts bound in (both front and rear wrappers). Author’s ink presentation inscription of the front wrapper to part 1: “To Konstantin Nikolayevich Boborykin from Kovalevsky in memory of… [illegible].” Binding rubbed on extremities, wrappers and several leaves of text with minor stains, the last five leaves of part 2 with minor holes, paper slightly age-toned, but overall a very good copy of this rare work.
Very rare Russian imprint with only four paper copies found in Worldcat (Library of Congress, Columbia University, University of Wisconsin, University of California Berkeley). First and only Russian edition. It was never published in European languages. The only translation of parts of the account into English was never published, and a photocopy of this typescript by Alison Jean Dray-Novey is deposited in the library of Harvard University. The first published translation was Chinese “Kui shi Zijincheng” (Beijing, 2004).
Original account of an early Russian travel to China, written by noted Russian traveller and diplomat Yegor Kovalevsky. In July 1849 – July 1850, he accompanied to Beijing the 13th missionary delegation of the Russian Orthodox church (Russkaya Dukhovnaya Missiya v Pekine), led by archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov, 1817-1878). Kovalevsky persuaded Chinese authorities to allow the mission to follow the most convenient route to Beijing across the Gobi Desert via Ulan-Bator and Kalgan (Zhangjiakou), used only by Chinese trade caravans before. During his travel, Kovalevsky documented the mission’s route, studied Chinese history and customs, and collected minerals, seeds, tea plants, and Chinese books for the Russian Academy of Sciences. After his return to Kyakhta, Kovalevsky proceeded to Kulja (Yining). In August 1851, he signed the Treaty, which opened Chungaria for Russian traders via Kulja and Chuguchak (modern-day Tacheng).
“Puteshestvie v Kitai” contains a detailed description of the new route from Kyakhta to Beijing. Several chapters talk about the architecture and history of the Chinese capital (the Forbidden City, the Observatory, Beijing markets, the quarters of the Russian Orthodox Mission, Russian schools, quarters of Mongolian and Korean representatives et al.). There are also interesting notes on the coal and gold mines near Beijing, the state of Christianity in China, opium smoking and the First Opium War, tea growing and tea trade, book printing and bookshops, et al. Pp. 154-199 of vol. 1 contain the “Travel Journal from Russian Border to Peking, 1849.” The illustrations include two lithographs after the original drawings of the mission’s official artist Ivan Chmutov (1817-65): “A view from the Great Wall of China” (showing Russian officers and an Orthodox priest), and “A street scene in Bejijng.” The other two lithographs by a Vienna artist A. Jovanovic depict a Chinese man smoking a pipe and Beijing street musicians.
The presentation inscription is addressed to Russian statesman Konstantin Nikolayevich Boborykin (1829-1904), who served as the first Russian consul in Urga (Ulan-Bator) in 1861-1863.
Overall an attractive presentation copy of an important Russian account of China in the mid-19th century.
Yegor Kovalevsky took part in the military expedition of count Perovsky to Khiva in 1839. In the early 1840s, he widely travelled across Central Asia and Europe (Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Balkans, the Carpathians). He led the first Russian expedition to Africa (1847-48) and discovered gold deposits in the Fazogli district of modern-day southeastern Sudan (on the border with Ethiopia). Kovalevsky became one of the first geographers who opposed the theory that the Mountains of the Moon were the source of the White Nile. It was fully disproved by Speke and Burton only in the late 1850s. After his travel to China in 1849-51, Kovalevsky took an active part in the signing of the Russian-Chinese Treaty of Aigun (1858), which brought to Russia the territories north of the Amur River. Kovalevsky was the director of the Asiatic Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1856-1861), an honorary member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences (1857), a member of the Russian Geographical Society (1847) and its vice-chairman in 1856-62.