The multicultural wealth of the Russian Empire 1870-1880-ies

In 1864, a young resident of Ohio George Kennan joined the group of researchers in search of a possible route of laying a Telegraph cable from the Bering Strait through Siberia to Europe as an alternative to cable across the Atlantic ocean. Kennan spent two years studying the cold and wild lands of the Russian Empire and encountering a lot of local people. Plans for the construction of Telegraph lines were forgotten, once was laid the cable on the bottom of the Atlantic.

Chechen men at the wedding.

Frustrated, the Americans returned home with nothing but his journals, which he published under the name of Tent Life in Siberia (“Tent life in Siberia”), became a bestseller. In 1870, Kennan returned to Russia and went by ship from St. Petersburg along the Volga into the Caspian sea. From there he traveled through the Caucasus mountains, where he met Georgians, Armenians and representatives of many other ethnic groups.

Afrobasket Highlander.

More than ten years, Kennan worked in USA as a journalist and in 1885 came back to Russia. At this time, the researcher went from St. Petersburg to the East and was traveling through the Altai on the border with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China, across Siberia to the gold mines along the river Kara. He described appalling conditions of detention in prisons and camps in Siberia (from which the authorities later expelled him from the country), and also collected hundreds of postcards, which depict a huge variety of subjects of the Russian Emperor — from city officials to the recently freed serfs, religious leaders and soldiers on the periphery of the vast Russian Empire.

Two Kazakh women, left — the bride.


Tatars in a small village near Minusinsk.



The great Lama of the Selenga datsan.

Kazakh musician playing the lute.

Kazakh riders.



A man from the Caucasus.

Tatar women and children.

The two musicians.

Beck Ingushetia.

Men from the Caucasus.

The man with his daughters.

A wealthy couple from Buryatia.

Woman in traditional dress.

The Kazakh pair.

Male Arab from Jerusalem.

Caucasian Gypsies.

The muezzin from the mosque in Tbilisi.

The Armenian woman.

The Mullah at the wedding.

Znamenskiy, the chief of police in Minusinsk, with a stuffed wolf head.

Persian the man with the weapon.



The post sledding in Siberia.


Christopher Makowski Fomich, the chief of police of Irkutsk.

The Dagestan mountains.

Alexander von Bunge, a Russian traveler and Explorer of the Arctic.


Alexander II, Emperor of Russia from 1855 to 1881.

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PHOTO: Library of Congress

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