Who stole the most beautiful map of Russia?
Why Russian historians of cartography are forced to work in foreign libraries?
On 2 April 2019 at 17:18
The River Tobol. Page from “Horeograficheskoy book of Siberia”, one of the three atlases, compiled in the late XVII century outstanding scientist from Tobolsk semen by Remezov. “Chorographia” is an obsolete Greek term denoting the art, a detailed description of the area. The only instance of the Atlas is kept at Harvard University.
In this fascinating historical detective scene was the most remote areas of Eurasia and America, lasted for centuries, and as the thieves were not hardened criminals – scientists, sometimes famous. Plot: the kidnap and repatriate priceless maps, which belonged to Russia.
Over the roofs of buildings are visible the towers of the Kremlin, I, buried in a phone screen, I stumble past the humming machines. The application does not define my location – look at house numbers, trying to navigate like I don’t have a device with GPS and standard map. Ready! Dive into the alley and soon included in Ivanovo hall of the Russian state library there is an exhibition “Maps of lands in the Russian North. Myths and reality”. I pass by the images of Siberia, Alaska, and some fantastic land at the North pole…
And here is what I look for: yellowing leaves, hand painted trees, yurts have been the bright yellow zigzags of the mountains. The North, according to old Russian tradition, there on the bottom, along the edge, splashing lined on the ice ocean. This is one of the oldest Russian atlases, extant, – “Drawing book of Siberia” Tobolsk cartographer semen Remezov, 1701. Work in the old Russian style: river blue ribbons with a thickness of a little finger stretch from the ocean up and disagree with graceful flourishes tributaries. In the Southeast (which, of course, top left) painted the battlements of the great wall, to the right and below Sea – Baikal…
Baikal “Horeograficheskoy book” Remezov. Left on the map you can see “the Castle of Irkutsk”, and in the lower right corner — “Zaimka Elias” (the modern village of Ilyinka on the river Selenga). The conditional scale and the lack of grid makes the shoreline unrecognizable to us, but a neat image of rivers and settlements helped the traveler to navigate.
“There could be another work Remezova, but it is not. Left the country, gone” – with painted expanses of Siberia in reality me gets the voice of the curator of the exhibition, of Liudmyla Zinchuk. Head of the cartographic Department of the library tells the story of a “charming little book” that was convenient to take along for the journey: a handwritten “Horeograficheskoe book of Siberia”, made in a single copy as a gift to Peter I, to the king is not reached and for years were deposited in the archives. In the early twentieth century historian Leo Bagrov issued “Horeograficheskoy book” and other documents that he wrote the Foreword to the Atlas of Asian Russia. Bagrov did my job, but the materials are not returned: there was a revolution, the scientist hastily went abroad, where he lived until his death. Book Remezov was considered missing, until 1958, was published under the title “Atlas of Siberia by Semyon U. Remezov”. The manuscript had been kept at Harvard University.
Of all the Remezov atlases “Horeograficheskoe book” – the most large-scale and detailed, so it has the greatest historical value. Another feature: compact (approximately A4) size of the book often forced the cartographer to glue additional pages to the main – out “clamshell”. Houghton Library, Harvard University. MS Russ 72 (6)
How much geographical material has been removed from the country? Nobody knows. But for sure we know something else: judging by the few stories of kidnappings solved, for the most ambitious of them are not seasoned robbers, but by respected scholars. What caused them to take away priceless cards abroad?
Chests of academician Delisle
Winter day in 1747. Director of geographic Department of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg Joseph-Nicolas Delisle stands at the window of his Observatory in the tower of the Kunstkammer. Visible from the window, bound by the ice of the Neva. From the view is breathtaking, but the 59-year-old astronomer wants other landscapes: it can’t wait to see the Louvre through the huge Windows of the Paris Academy of Sciences. 20 years have passed since then, as Delisle arrived in St. Petersburg at the invitation of Peter I. During these years he learned about the mysterious Russian lands enough and could return home in triumph.
In the St. Petersburg apartment that Joseph-Nicolas soon will forever leave cooked chests: they Packed the latest maps of Russia, which in Europe is never seen again. And yet the secret documents of the expedition, which describes the unknown lands in the Pacific ocean. Soon all these treasures go abroad, and in Paris the scientist promised by Louis XV honorary pension.
200 years ago, the cargo arrived at its destination, and in our days 415 cards from the chests Delisle stored in the French National library and Archive of the Naval Ministry. Russian researchers learned of their location only in the 1960s.
In the days of Delisle, however, no one thought to sound the alarm: in the Russian capital to foreign scholar was treated warmly.
“He was a man with European manners, very pleasant”, – smiles Vladimir Bulatov, head of Department of written sources of the State Historical Museum. According to Bulatov, the Empress Anna Ioannovna not particularly delved into the scientific case de l’isle: “Their relationship is constructed as follows: the ruler passes by, he brings her over to the telescope, shows her the moon or a star of some kind. The Empress looks like she’s scared. Everyone is happy”.
Lena pillars on the map-scheme Remezov (to the right of the center of the map). In the next photo — Lena pillars in reality.
Lena pillars, what they see traveler.
Chorographia, by definition, Claudius Ptolemy, is a depiction of certain places, “and no one would deal with chorographia, not being able to paint”. And it’s not mathematical precision is an important visibility and convenience. Maps Remezov was distinguished by attention to detail.
At the dawn of the reign of the Empress in 1730-ies, Delisle suggested Anna Ivanovna to create at the Academy of Sciences geographical Department and he headed it. Now the alien had the power over almost all cartographic materials. The Frenchman did not know the Russian language and under this pretext were asked to translate all the documents, drawings and maps. Harmless requirement? But if I knew the first Russian surveyors that, breaking eye over Danilevskii copies, they were preparing materials for agencies of a foreign country!
“Back in Paris, Joseph-Nicolas Delisle in 1752 published a very interesting map, – continues the story Liudmila Zinchuk, moving on to the next exhibit. On it he showed the achievements of the French sailors on the Pacific ocean, using data that got our Kamchatka expedition!”.
Of the reigning Empress Elizabeth, upon learning of the publication of the card, immediately sent to the Paris academician Miller, who is incognito publishes in French “a New map of the discoveries made by Russian sailors on an unknown total coast of North America and adjacent territories”. Her first appearance routes of the expeditions of Bering, Bering and Chirikov. In the end, the status of the discoverer of the land still remained in Russia. But scientists who need information on the first steps of Russian cartography, are going to study a priceless collection de l’isle in Paris.
Send the Baron von Asch
Rainy day on 1 December 1782 Japanese captain Daikokuya Kodayu did not care for geographical discoveries: he was going to deliver the rice in a nearby town and contemplated whether to go to sea in bad weather. Deciding to take a risk, the captain had loaded his ship “Sins-Maru” and moved on. Meanwhile the storm had only gotten angrier. A powerful gust of wind broke the mast, the helpless vessel carried farther from the shore. Six months “Sins-Maru” was done in the Pacific, while barely alive sailors throw on the Russian island. Prochitavshih the vast country a dozen years, Daikokuya got to St. Petersburg and met with Catherine II. The Empress organized the Japanese return home, and in gratitude Kodu drew a few maps of Japan. It was an unheard-of generosity at the time: in the XVII century the island was almost completely closed to foreigners, and the trading cards, the company would pay any money.
…Yellowed drawings Kodu are stored under ideal temperature and humidity at the University of göttingen, under the arches of the former Dominican monastery. On the back of one of the sheets is visible neat inscription: “Received in Irkutsk in 1793”. So at the end of the eighteenth century the map was signed by the Russian court physician, Baron Gregory von Ash, and then folded into a parcel, together with other curiosities, which he managed to get hold of, and sent to Germany – Director of the University library Christian Heine.
“This map is composed in the Siberian expedition under the command of fleet captain Bering from Tobol’sk to Bering corner” 1729 How this masterpiece of Russian cartography was Gregory von Asha — medic, albeit a senior, we hardly know.
For 35 years of service in Russia, the Baron sent 120 of these parcels. Background Ash studied at göttingen, and alma mater will be forever in his heart. In addition to rare plants, skulls, coins and stamps, the Baron sent more than a hundred cards. So Germany was, for example, the materials of the expedition (which since Delisle had access only representatives of the Admiralty), and even the Russian and Chinese fortresses and even the plan of Beijing!
“How he got these cards, and especially cards in Russian America, I can not understand – surprised Professor Alexei Postnikov, a leading Russian historian of cartography, several years ago discovered in a German collection of Russian documents. They were all strictly classified. And life-medic just couldn’t be a legal way to get them!”.
The answer to the question is no and German scientists. However, in göttingen background Asha is revered as one of the main patrons of art and history Baron sounds there as an ode to friendship and the cosmopolitan enlightenment. “Many Ash asked to send him some books from Germany, that is to say that it was the exchange of knowledge, says Dr. Gudrun Bucher, who is studying at the University of göttingen collection of the Baron. – Every year the letters were of a more personal nature. Background Ash helped the son of Heinrich Heine, who went to Russia to work as a doctor. But Heine at the request of the Baron was looking out for Russian students in göttingen”.
The last years of his long – he was released 78 years – the life of Gregory von Ash held in the city for youth; on the packages of Baron in Russia, apparently, never learned.
The fortunate Julius klaproth
A young polyglot-taught, son of the famous chemist and discoverer of uranium, Julius klaproth had quickly become his. In 1805-m at 22, he moved here from Prussia at the invitation of the Imperial Academy of Sciences – Klaproth was offered the position of assistant Professor of Asian languages. It does not take years, and Julius is already shaking on the Mongolian steppe in a noisy caravan of diplomatic missions to China. Around raise dust Dragoons and Cossacks, next goes to his patron, privy councillor count Jan Potocki, archaeologist and writer, chief of the Embassy for science. The count on a young protégé had his own views – Potocki wanted to find in the East the answer to the mystery of the origin of the Slavs.
To Beijing, the caravan never arrived: careful the Chinese are not allowed to own a delegation of 300 people, and the failed diplomatic mission moved back. A year later, klaproth has become academic. The sphere of interests of the gifted homeschoolers was extensive. He took everything from the deciphering of the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone to translating Japanese poetry. Energetic young man came to the court.
Map of Central Asia published by Julius Clarocom in 1828. By the time he was 13 years living in Paris: on the recommendation of Alexander von Humboldt klaproth received from the king of Prussia the title and salary of Professor of the Berlin University with the right to live in Paris.
In 1810, Julius received a Commission from Alexander I to publish a dictionary of the Chinese language. Characters with drawings of the Klaproth it was decided to make the wooden forms. Best of all this could handle the Berlin master.
“Klaproth allocated 750 silver roubles: in those days a fortune, says Professor Postnikov. The king gave him permission to collect all the necessary articles in a variety of agencies.” Klaproth permission to use entirely. “He took everything, absolutely everything! – said Alexey Vladimirovich. – I 40 years engaged in the study of the Russian-Chinese border – no map of the region at that time we have!”.
Klaproth crossed the border and more in our country did not come back. Money, of course, he left himself. Some cards Julius used for scientific publications, and the rest is sold. He died in Paris – his old age was well-fed and prosperous.
Time to reveal the card
Likely neither Gregory von Ash, nor even Julius klaproth special guilt is not felt in the eighteenth century the appropriation of state property terrible sin was not considered. Many could get the cards for their personal use. “Here, for example, count Ivan Chernyshev, the President of the Admiralty Board, gathered a huge collection of cards, – says Vladimir Bulatov. – Collected it count just wrote captains returning from the expedition: “And now send the card!””. According to Bulatov, the document Chernyshev had been sent, and he takes it himself. “Catherine never came to say “What are you, Ivan G., dragged himself valuable materials?” While he was in charge of the Navy wasn’t interested in that when it settles in his pockets,” says the scientist.
War of 1812 in a sense, drew a line in the wars for geographic materials: the French army, crossing the border of Russia, used cards that you could easily buy in Europe. In the nineteenth century, the geography of science captains and sailors became part of the mandatory school curriculum. In the twentieth century people learned how to make detailed images of the earth surface from space. Today we just press the “update” button and download to your device the smallest geographical details in almost every corner of the world.
And antique maps, lost practical value have now become valuable documents of a bygone era. But to bring them home is unlikely to succeed. The new owners don’t want to delve into the past. In the directories and the files usually just specify the name of him who brought the map, and no more details.
…A few years ago, patrons were able to return to Russia a copy (at least!) legendary manuscript Remezov. Negotiations with Harvard University was 12 years old. The Russian side paid for the restoration and Harvard agreed to make a facsimile “Horeograficheskoy books”, which sold quite a small number.
Today, anyone can “flip through” the book Remezov on the University website. However, the stamp “issued to Lev Bagrovo” disappeared – although Liudmila Zinchuk saw her on the last fly-leaf, when held in the hands of the original. But on one of the pages near the stamp of the Harvard libraries reproach is a stamp of the Russian archive. To end this awkward history to forget not happened.