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Pamir expeditions of B.L. Grombchevsky



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Victor TEREKHOV

PAMIR EXPEDITIONS of B.L. GROMBCHEVSKY

In article military and research expeditions of the Russian officer B.P. Grombchevsky to Pamir at the end of XIXv are analyzed. and its contribution to a domestic pamirovedeniye.

The military research expeditions of Russian officer B.L. Grombchevsky to the Pamirs in the late 19th century and his contribution to the national scientific research of the Pamirs are analyzed in the article.

English-Russian rivalry, scientific and military research, Pamir, B.P. Grombchevsky; Anglo-Russian rivalry, scientific and military research, Pamirs, B.L .Grombchevsky.

Victor Petrovich TEREKHOV is a scientific editor of the magazine

"Ethnographic review" of Institute of ethnology and anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences of vuvin@mail.ru

In the XIX century on the Eurasian continent a so-called "big game" was developed (English — the Great Game) as which it is accepted to understand strategic rivalry and the conflict between the British and Russian empires for domination in Central Asia, first of all fight for sales markets and sources of raw materials. For justification of the expansionist plans in the east the English diplomacy put forward a thesis about the attack on India planned by Russia and possible invasion of the Russian troops from Central Asia there.

After gain and accession to the Russian Empire of Central Asia attention both the English, and Russian politicians, diplomats and military addressed on the countries which were between India and the Russian possession more and more. One of objects of "a big game" was Pamir — the highland in Central Asia which east part was inhabited by Kyrgyz nomads, and western — few East Iranian nationalities which nowadays live in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of the Republic of Tajikistan. Pamir was of interest, first of all, owing to the strategically important geographical location — as boundary territory between Asia and Europe.

Despite this, to the middle of the 19th century of data on this region were extremely poor and were based mainly on sketchy and confused Chinese and Arab sources. The first European — the Venetian merchant Marco Polo — got here only in the XIII century. Even at the beginning of the 1870th the military and foreign policy departments of Russia by drawing up certificates of Pamir were forced to note that it is one of the most little-known corners of the globe. They found it difficult to make a certain conclusion concerning location of the Pamir principalities, not to mention languages, customs and customs of people, living there.

Expeditions to Pamir were dangerous and difficult for Europeans owing to severe climatic conditions of highlands: sharp temperature differences during the day, development of the altitude sickness accompanied with oxygen starvation and physical exhaustion and also because of insolation, frequent earthquakes, rockfalls, etc. Besides, small feudal Pamir possession were in vassal dependence on the neighboring, more powerful states which did not grant permission for trips there.

The superiority in researches of Pamir belongs to British, created in India special service, which along with sbo-

rum of intelligence information was engaged on Pamir in geographical and other researches of military and applied character under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society.

Activization of military-political and diplomatic activity of British in Central Asia, in particular around Afghanistan and Pamir, next to it, stimulated military and scientific Central Asian researches in Russia. As a matter of fact, they began during preparation for accession of Central Asia, in particular after formation of the Turkestan Governorate-General (since 1886 — the Turkestan region) and the Turkestan military district, and accepted more or less systematic character at the end of the 1870th. Then with the military and scientific purposes in east and western parts of Pamir and also military experts L.F. Kostenko, N.I. Grodekov, D.V. Putyata, etc. and also scientists and travelers N.A. Severtsov, I.V. Mushketov, A.E. Regel, G.E. Grum-Grzhimaylo, V.F. Oshanin, etc. went to territories, adjacent with it. During the expeditions, business trips and travel they managed to collect important data of military and applied and scientific property. The main attention was paid to geography — orography, hydrography and cartography that was caused, first of all, by political tasks in connection with the English-Russian rivalry in Central Asia.

Thus, during "the big game" there was a domestic pamirovedeniye as one of the directions of orientalism. At the first stage of the history it had practical character as served the interests of the military and diplomatic departments. Founders of this science were military-orientalists, scientists of a wide profile, travelers naturalists and also the staff of diplomatic services. The considerable contribution to studying Pamir and Pripamirya were brought by the Russian Geographical Society (RGS), Society of fans of natural sciences, anthropology and etografiya at the Moscow university and other scientific organizations. Early studies of pamiroved were sketchy and unsystematized, nevertheless they are of interest both to science history, and to the history of development of the Pamir region which at the beginning of the 20th century was a part

The Russian Empire, and later became a part of the USSR.

One of the most prominent military researchers of Pamir — the member of RGO Bronislav Lyudvigovich Grombchevsky (Gronbchevsky, 1855 — 1926), the Pole by origin. He studied in the St. Petersburg Mining institute where he received bases of knowledge of mineralogy, geology and topography. Without having finished a full course of institute, Grombchevsky enlisted. Since 1876 his life is connected with the Turkestan region where it was transferred to linear battalion. Later, holding a position of the assistant to the chief of the Margelansky County, B.L. Grombchevsky seriously was engaged in studying culture and languages of the local people. He has sartsky (Uzbek), Tajik and Persian (Farsi) languages down to a science. Already being awarded the silver medal RGO and having visited some earlier little-known areas of Central Asia, Grombchevsky on own initiative decided to take a course of practical astronomy at the St. Petersburg university and to be trained in Pulkovo Observatory. Only after that it started a research of Pamir.

In August-November, 1888 its first expedition to Pamir and adjacent to it from the southeast areas took place. In total it passed about 3 thousand versts across small or absolutely uninspected areas. In way it carried out route shooting, barometric leveling (measurement of heights) and determined geographic latitudes, in passing making photography.

The fact that not only the Defense Ministry and RGO, but also the European geographers were interested in its results demonstrates to importance of this expedition. Grombchevsky freely rose by the East of Pamir and passed to Aqsa, i.e. to Murkhab's upper courses, but near merge Aqsa with Istyk was detained by Chinese from Tash Kurgan. Here arrangements and gifts he managed to achieve from local Beck permission to proceed further, to a watershed between Aqsa and Vakhan-Darya.

Despite difficult weather conditions and other difficulties, its expedition allowed to expand considerably data on orography and hydrography of mountain areas. By results of the previous research trips (to Kashgar,

to Tien Shan and to the Fergana region) and also expeditions of 1888 Grombchevsky was awarded the gold medal RGO. In the summer of the next year Grombchevsky undertook a new expedition to Pamir and in Pripamirye: it surveyed Karategin's part and Darwaz, Vakhan and Hindu Kush, northwest Tibet and Kashgaria (expedition of 1889). It managed to make route shooting throughout more than 7 thousand versts, to define 14 astronomical points and 158 heights, to make numerous observations and to collect rich and very various collections.

At this time from approval of British the Afghan troops occupied the Pamir Principalities of Shugnan and Rushan. The Russian military traveler was the witness of their rough handling over locals. Is later in the report read in the Nikolaev academy of the General Staff, he reported that rushanets called themselves precisely subject "the white tsar", and occupation of the edge "aces" (thieves) was explained with the fact that "the Russian troops far and could not appear in time in time to banish Afghans". "Executions were made daily, - Grombchevsky continued. - Villages... were burned out, and fields were etched by horses... The population was exhausted under the Afghan oppression, and hunger and the related disasters" 1 in the long term was expected. In the letter the traveler told the Russian political agent in Bukhara that the revolt of locals which broke out in East Badakhshana "accepted the wide sizes and forced Afghans to summon troops", located in next rayonakh2.

Grombchevsky emphasized that not only the population of the Pamir principalities, but also governors of the last sympathized with Russians. Considering inclination of pamirets to Russians and also violation by England of the agreement with Russia that territories on the right coast of the river Pyandzh - a sphere of influence of Russians, and on left - British, he considered that Russia has full authority to occupy Pamir which is of "undoubted importance" for nee3.

1 B.L. Grombchevsky. Our interests on Pamir: military-political essay. — New Margelan, 1891, page 4, 11, 18.
2 Archive of foreign policy of the Russian Empire, t. 147 (Central Asian table), op. 485, 695, l. 153.
3 B.L. Grombchevsky. Decree soch., page 18, 26.

Having studied and having analyzed possibilities of the movement of the Russian troops through Mount Pamir, Grombchevsky, as well as some other highest officers, believed that the campaign to India is possible not only from the Zakaspiysky region. "I think that a parcel through Pamiry to Kashmir 3 — 4 thousand cases... will force British to give up a thought to use the Kashmir troops for fight against Russia... Emergence even of small group of the Russian troops from outside Pamirov will distract enormous forces at British and substantially will facilitate a problem of the main operational building". Grombchevsky warned that "British move forward on all line and move systematically, on strictly considered plan". Having occupied all roads through Pamir, he summarized, the opponent can appear in the close neighbourhood with territories, controlled Rossiyey4.

For the carried-out considerable geographical and topographical works in foothill and mountainous areas and also clarification of the one who possessed the Pamir lands in the past Grombchevsky received the lieutenant colonel's rank. By results of a travel of 1889 — 1890 it published the report in "IRGO News" and the detailed political reference "Modern position of the Pamir khanates and an ambit with Kashmir". The correspondence with General staff of the Turkestan military district and the chief of the Nikolaev academy of the General Staff found by the author in Russian state military and historical arkhive5 testifies to his trip to the Western Tibet through Pamir for collecting data of geographical and political character.

It is difficult to overestimate B.L. Grombchevsky's contribution to a domestic pamirovedeniye. Thanks to its military scientific expeditions the Russian science in the 1890th received authentic data on geography of a number of the regions of Pamir and the adjacent countries. The various collections collected by the researcher, including entomological, formed for future generations of pamiroved a basis for the comparative and scientific analysis.

4 In the same place, page 23, 27 — 28.
5 RGVIA, t. 1396 (Headquarters of the Turkestan military district), op. 2, 186, l. 1 — 10.
Holte Malene
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