The Face of Manchuria, Korea, and Russian Turkestan


This book is based on a four-month journey undertaken in the first part of 1910 by Emily Georgiana Kemp (1860‒1939) and a friend via the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Harbin, China, across Manchuria, and through Korea, and from there to Russian Turkestan via the Trans-Siberian, ending with a trip through the Caucasus. It includes lively descriptions of Mukden, Pyongyang, Seoul, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and other places, with colored illustrations by the author. Written a few years after the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904‒5 and in the same year as the Japanese annexation of Korea, the book warns of future Japanese aggression in Manchuria. Kemp was a member of a wealthy English Baptist family. She was one of the first students at Somerville College (one of the first women’s colleges at the University of Oxford) and later studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She traveled widely and wrote seven books, mostly about China. A perceptive observer of the places she visited, she was especially interested in the activities of Christian missionaries, the status and well-being of women, and religion. In this book, she discusses in considerable detail the role of Islam in Central Asia. She writes that Bukhara “has always been the centre of religious influence since Islam first conquered it about A.D. 709 (Arabian invasion), and to-day it boasts a rigid adherence to the letter of the Koran, surpassing that of any other place,” but she deplores the condition of women in the khanate. The book is illustrated with Kemp’s own watercolors and pen-and-ink sketches, and it concludes with a colored fold-out map tracing the route of the journey.

Last updated: September 30, 2016