January 27, 2016

Recipients of the Cross of Saint George, Awarded with the Highest Military Honor. For the Capture of Tashkent on June 18, 1865: Ensign V.F. Aleksandrov

This photograph is from the historical part of the Turkestan Album, a comprehensive visual survey of Central Asia undertaken after imperial Russia assumed control of the region in the 1860s. Commissioned by General Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman (1818–82), the first governor-general of Russian Turkestan, the album is in four parts spanning six volumes: “Archaeological Part” (two volumes); “Ethnographic Part” (two volumes); “Trades Part” (one volume); and “Historical Part” (one volume). The compiler of the first three parts was Russian Orientalist Aleksandr L. Kun, who was assisted by Nikolai V. Bogaevskii. Production of the album was completed in 1871–72. The fourth part was compiled by Mikhail Afrikanovich Terentʹev (born 1837), a Russian military officer, Orientalist, linguist, and author who participated in the Russian expedition to Samarkand of 1867−68. The “Historical Part” documents Russian military activities between 1853 and 1871 with photographs and watercolor maps of major battles and sieges. The photographs include individual and group portraits of officials and military personnel. Most of the men portrayed were recipients of the Cross of Saint George, an honor conferred upon soldiers and sailors for bravery in battle. A few photographs at the beginning of the album depict officers awarded the Order of Saint George, an honor granted to senior Russian officers for superior merit in conducting military operations. Also shown are views of citadels, fortifications, cities and villages, churches, ruins, and monuments commemorating soldiers killed in battle. The album contains 211 images on 79 plates.

Description of Ukraine, or Regions of the Kingdom of Poland between Muscovy and Transylvania

Presented here is an early translation into Russian of Description d'Ukranie, an influential work first published in French in 1651. The author, Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan, was a French engineer who worked in Poland between 1630 and 1647. He built fortifications in Ukraine, most of which was then under Polish control, took part in battles with the Cossacks and Tatars, and in 1639 traveled by boat down the Dnieper River. Beauplan produced two important early maps of Ukraine that were based on his own observations and his own careful astronomical and topographic measurements. The book contains a foreword by the author and his dedication of the work to Jan II Kazimierz, King of Poland. The main text is in seven chapters, “Description of Ukraine,” “Description of the Crimea,” “About the Crimean Tartars,” “About the Ukrainian Cossacks,” “About the Election of Polish Kings,” “On the Freedom of Polish Noblemen,” and “On the Mores of Polish Noblemen.” The book contains detailed descriptions of Kiev and other towns that remain important sources of information about 17th century Ukraine. It describes the Tartars as a cruel and warlike people, who used their base in the Crimea to mount attacks on Muscovy and Poland. The chapter on the Cossacks discusses how the Cossack hetman (chief) was selected and the powers he was given, and claims that if the hetman displayed weakness he was killed by his subordinates. It describes how the Cossacks built ships that they used to stage raids on the coasts of Asia Minor, where they captured Turkish ships and engaged in looting. The chapter also covers such topics as Cossack marriage customs, diseases and medicines among the Cossacks, Cossack drinking habits, and the severe winter in the Ukraine. The edition of Description d'Ukranie shown here is a translation into Russian published in 1832 in Saint Petersburg. The book is indexed and contains a dedication and foreword by the translator.

The Song of Igor’s Campaign: Text in Translation with Explanations of the Rules of Accents and Rhyme in the Old Russian Language

Presented here is a translation into Ukrainian of Slovo o polku Igoreve (The song of Igor’s campaign), the heroic poem from the end of the 12th century that is one of the great monuments of Old Russian literature. The translation was issued in 1884 by the printing house of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lvov (present-day L’viv), at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia (the southeastern part of which was heavily Ukrainian). It uses the orthography that was developed for Ukrainian in Galicia, beginning in the 1860s (publishing in Ukrainian was banned in the Russian Empire until after the revolution of 1905). The book includes a reconstructed text of the Slovo in Old Russian in Church Slavic letters (pages 11‒32); a translation into modern Ukrainian using the Galician orthography (pages 33‒48); notes on accentuation and prosody (pages 51‒106); an Old Russian to Ukrainian dictionary (pages 119‒45); and the text of the Slovo as originally published by Count Aleksei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin in Russian with civil (not Church Slavic) letters (pages 147‒57). The Slovo recounts the story of Prince Igor Sviatoslavich (circa 1151‒1202), one of four Kievan Rus’ territorial princes from throne towns on the rivers Desna and Seym who, on April 23, 1185, set out for the prairies beyond the river Donets to fight the Kumans. On May 12, the army of the four princes was crushed by the enemy. Igor was captured and held prisoner for a year or more before he escaped and made his way home. The Slovo tells the story of the ill-starred campaign, which it nonetheless praises as a heroic venture: “Hail, princes and knights / fighting for the Christians/ against the pagan troops! / To the princes glory, and to the knights / glory—Amen.” The Slovo was lost and forgotten for centuries until around 1790, when Musin, a collector of antiquities and a high-ranking lay member of the Russian church synod, obtained a manuscript copy of the work that is believed to have been made in the 16th century. Musin purchased the manuscript from an intermediary who is thought to have acquired it from a monastery that was disbanded in 1788. Musin published the text in 1800. In the 20th century, the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov translated the epic into English.