South to the Great Steppe - The travels of Thomas of Lucy Atkinson in Eastern Kazakhstan, 1847-1852

 
9780954640996: South to the Great Steppe - The travels of Thomas of Lucy Atkinson in Eastern Kazakhstan, 1847-1852

In the summer of 1846 Yorkshire-born Thomas Witlam Atkinson arrived in St Petersburg with a plan to travel to some of the remotest parts of Siberia and Central Asia. An architect-turned-artist, he had decided to follow the advice of the great German geographer Alexander von Humboldt and seek permission to visit regions that few Europeans had ever seen. Tsar Nicholas I approved the plan and Thomas left Moscow the following spring, armed with a royal passport. A year later, having visited the Urals and the Altai Mountains in Western Siberia, he returned briefly to marry Lucy Finley, an English governess. Only two days after their marriage they set off together from Moscow on a journey that would last almost six years, during which Lucy gave birth to their son. They travelled more than 40,000 miles - much of it on horseback - throughout Siberia and Central Asia, all the way to the Chinese border. South to the Great Steppe describes Thomas and Lucy's travels in what is today Kazakhstan and is one of the most remarkable travel stories of all time. Thomas also made a large number of vivid paintings and drawings, which together with his and Lucy's journals, offer the only detailed descriptions of the lives of the steppe nomads in the middle of the nineteenth century. This book contains high-quality reproductions of many of these paintings, including views of the Tamchiboulac Spring, the Ac-Sou River, the many kurgans surrounding Kapal, the remarkable Kora Valley, the Bascan River, the Terric-Sou and many other notable places in the region. Atkinson's portraits of the Kazakh leaders at that time are particularly important. He painted Sultan Soyuk, Sultan Boulania, Sultan Ianantuck and many other significant leaders. He shows them in their finest clothes, surrounded by their hunting eagles, their camels and horses and their families. No other contemporary paintings of this period in Kazakh history exist.

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