- Przheval’skii, Nikolai Mikhailovich
- (1839–1888)A Russian zoologist and explorer, Nikolai Mikhailovich Przheval’skii was born in Smolensk and was educated both there and at the Academy of the General Staff in St. Petersburg. Przheval’skii served in Poland and taught geography at Irkutsk before his explorations. He was committed to exploration of Inner Asia and aided Russian attempts to gain important scientific knowledge about the region. He carried out four major geographic expeditions to the Ussuri River basin, Tibet, Mongolia, the Tianshan Mountains, Lake Issyk-kul, and other areas of Inner Asia during the 1870s and 1880s. He discovered the horse named Equus przewalskii during his travels to the former Dzungan region and was the first westerner to locate wild Bactrian camels in Inner Asia. Przheval’skii likely saw himself as fulfilling the role of a David Livingstone or Henry Morton Stanley for the Russian Empire by exploring the “heart” of Inner Asia. He received the financial and logistical support of the Russian Geographical Society for his journeys and regarded himself as an agent of scientific progress. Przheval’skii was celebrated by the Russian public as a great explorer; after his death from typhus in 1888, monuments were erected commemorating his exploits. One was located at Issyk-kul, the place of his death, and another was placed in St. Petersburg. In 1893, Alexander III decreed that the Kirghiz city of Karakol be renamed Przhevalsk. Przheval’skii kept detailed accounts of his journeys and later published his findings in Mongolia, the Tangut Country (1875) and From Kulja, Across the Tian-Shan to Lob-Nor (1879). His first book was translated into English, French, and German. Przheval’skii’s three-year journey to Tibet from late 1870 to 1873 was the event that made him a public figure. Przheval’skii dreamed of finding the Dalai Lama at Lhasa, but his hopes were not realized. His travel companion and successor as Inner-Asian explorer, Petr Kozlov, and another of his closest friends, Panteley Teleshov, were introduced to the Dalai Lama in 1905. Throughout his career, Przheval’skii emphasized the importance of Inner Asia to Russia’s Great Game competition with Great Britain. He hoped to establish some degree of Russian imperial control over Tibet and Mongolia. Upon his return from his expeditions to Inner Asia, he brought back 16,000 specimens of approximately 1,700 species of plant life.See also <
>.FURTHER READING:Przheval’skii, Nikolai Mikhailovich. From Kulga, Across the Tian-Shan to Lob-Nor. Translated by E. Delmar Morgan. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Seale, & Rivington, 1879;Przheval’skii, Nikolai Mikhailovich. Mongolia, the Tangut Country, and the Solitudes of Northern Tibet. London: S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1876;Rayfield, Donald. The Dream of Lhasa: The Life of Nikolai Przhevalsky (1839–88) Explorer of Central Asia. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976.SCOTT C. BAILEY
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.