N. M. Prjevalsky

Portrait of N. M.  Prjevalsky

Nikolay Mikhailovich Przhevalsky or Prjevalsky (Никола́й Миха́йлович Пржева́льский, 12 April 1839, Kimborovo, Russian Empire – 1 Nov. 1888, Karakol (nowadays in Kirghiztan)) was a Russian Imperial geographer and a renowned explorer of Central and East Asia who tried to locate the main springs of major Southeast Asian rivers.

Although he never reached his ultimate goal, the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet, he traveled through regions then unknown to Western explorers and travelers, such as northern Tibet (modern Tibet Autonomous Region), Amdo (now Qinghai) and Dzungaria (now northern Xinjiang). From 1867 to 1888, he led four major exploratory expeditions in Asia.

His condescending, bordering racist comments on 'Oriental people' have been criticized. Secretive about his personal life, he claimed that he preferred "the desert above the gilded salons that can be acquired by marriage". It has been rumored that Joseph Stalin was his illegitimate son.