A Journey in Khorassan and Central Asia


A Journey in Khorassan and Central Asia is a short, privately printed account by the author, Robert J. Kennedy, of a journey that he and his wife, Bertha Kennedy, took through northeastern Persia (present-day Iran) and parts of Russian Central Asia in March‒April 1890. At the time Kennedy was the chargé d’affaires at the British legation in Tehran. The journey is described in three parts: from Tehran to Meshed (also known as Mashhad, the largest city in Khorasan Province); from Meshed to Dushak (in present-day Turkmenistan) and from there, on the Trans-Caspian Railway, through Merv, Samarkand, Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan), and Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) to the Caspian Sea port of Uzun-Ada; and from Uzun-Ada across the Caspian Sea by steamer to the Persian port of Meshed-i-Sar (present-day Babol Sar) and back to Tehran via Mazanderan Province. The background to the book is the opening of a Russian consulate in the previously closed city of Meshed in 1889, after which the British successfully demanded from the government in Tehran the right to similar representation. The book is permeated by concerns about Russian expansionism, and the duty of the British consul-general in Meshed, Major-General C.S. MacLean, is described as “to watch and report upon the Russian advance from the Caspian on one side, and Turkestan on the other, which, begun a quarter of a century ago, and increasing in velocity year by year, threatens to crush, or, rather, to absorb the kingdoms of Persia and Afghanistan, as it already has absorbed the khanates of Central Asia.” The book contains interesting portraits of the places visited, including the Shiite holy city of Meshed.

Last updated: August 25, 2016