ПУТЕШЕСТВІЕ ГОСУДАРЯ ИМПЕРАТОРА НИКОЛАЯ II НА ВОСТОКЪ (ВЪ 1890—1891) | Travel of Emperor Nikolai II to the East

by E. E. Ukhtomsky

Language : Russian

0895 - Digital version via RUSNEB (rusneb.ru) - 251 pages - On-Demand Books F.A. Brockhaus, Leipzig-Sankt Petersburg

While the first volume of this series was dealing with Egypt, Arabia, Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabhad and Northern India, the second one takes us to Southern India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma (Myanmar), Siam (Thailand), Java and the Malay Peninsula.

The author, a Russian poet and the future Tsar's close confidant, loved everything 'Oriental'. Even if his take on Southeast Asia was strongly influenced by the official discourse at the highest levels of the Kingdom of Siam, he was able to observe, research and describe by himself. Of note:

  • Through all his notations, he surmises that the Khmer influence on Siam (and even Annam) was stronger that officially admitted. For instance: 'Что такое Сіамъ? Какія представленія, кроме сказочныхъ, возникаютъ въ насъ при мысли о полуневѣдомомъ, даже до последняго времени малоизследованномъ цар-стве стараго типа, но притомъ съ достаточной долей самостоятельности по отношенію къ наступающей чужеземщине? Тамъ — симпатичная частица Азіи, не пренебрегающей западнымъ просвещеніемъ и тѣмъ не менее борющейся за свои жизненныя права --, издревле сталкиваются культурныя вліянія Индіи и Китая, въ основе же помимо того еще лежитъ загадочная «хмерская» цивилизація, такъ-сказать духовное зодчество неизвестно какими путями сюда проникшаго элемента кавказской рассы, после котораго тутъ и въ смежной некогда могущественной Камбоджіи сохра-нились гигантскіе памятники религіозно-эпическаго характера, съ не-объятнымъ историческимъ и художественнымъ значеніемъ: лучи Рамаяны и буддійскихъ легендъ, переплетшіеся съ отраженною въ камне летописью боеваго возвышенно настроеннаго народа! ('What is Sіam? What representations, besides fabulous ones, arise in us at the thought of a little-studied, old-fashion kingdom of the old type, but with a sufficient degree of independence in relation to the advancing foreign lands? Siam is an attractive part of Asia which does not neglect western enlightenment and is no less fighting for her own life rights (...) Here, the cultural influences of India and China have clashed since ancient times, in addition to the mysterious "Khmer" civilization, the unknown way 'spiritual architecture' penetrated as an element of the Caucasian race penetrated, after which, here and in the adjacent once-mighty Cambodia, gigantic monuments of religious and epic character, with an incomprehensibly rich and artistic meaning: the lights of the Ramayana and Buddhist legends, intertwined with the chronicles of war prowesses, are reflected in the stone!')
  • The highlight of the Siam visit was the boat trip on the Menam River to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, with vivid descriptions: 'Что это за типичные люди мелькаютъ передъ нами, пока мы плывемъ отъ барки къ баркѣ, отъ плота къ плоту — гдѣ поетъ, хлопаетъ въ ладоши и приплясываетъ болѣе свѣтлый чѣмъ сіамцы, но всетаки очень смуглый народъ! Темносиняя хлопчатобумажная одежда, — вродѣ той, что носять крестьяне Южнаго Китая (блуза, кушакъ и короткіе штаны), — облекаетъ стройным и крѣпкія фигуры мужчинъ. Изрѣдка, впрочемъ, видне-ются ткани коричневаго, шоколаднаго и оранжеваго цвета. Красивым девушки (съ длин-ными убранными цветами косами, уложенными венцемъ, въ красныхъ узорчатыхъ накид-кахъ изъ шелка и полосатыхъ юбкахъ) образуютъ среди молодежи выразительно яркую групп.'('How typical are the people flickering in front of us while we sail from barge to barge, from raft to raft -- how they sing, clap their hands and dance more gayly than the Siamese, but all the same, they are very dark people! Dark blue cotton clothing, like the one worn by the peasants of South China (blouse, sash and short pants), slender and tight figures, with occasionally fabrics of brown, chocolate and orange colors. Beautiful girls with long braids decorated with flowers and tied in a crown, in red patterned silk yarn and striped skirts,form an expressively bright group among young people.')
  • Reflecting on the ethnic fabric of the region, the author once again expresses his puzzlement in front of the 'Khmer enigma': 'С месь монголо-тибетской и малайской крови, полнейшее pendant нашимъ инородцамъ-ламаитамъ и японцамъ, въ большинстве малорослые и подвижные индо-китайцы являются странными преемниками непонятныхъ Хмеровъ съ ихъ государственнымъ строемъ, представляются результатомъ многообразныхъ этнографическихъ наслоеній въ такой части земнаго шара, где сознательнаго прошлаго и настоящаго почти нетъ, а буду-щее разовьется лишь на развалинахъ теперешняго матеріальнаго міра.' ('A mix of Mongol-Tibetan and Malay blood, true pendant to our foreign Lamaite and Japanese [minorities], most of these small and mobile IndoChinese [tribes] are the strange successors of the enigmatic Khmer with their state system, they seem to result from diverse ethnographic layers in this part of the globe where there is almost no conscious past and present, and the future will develop only on the ruins of the material present...')
  • The presumption that Khmer builders in Siamese territories had been 'slaves', not conquerors from a mighty Empire: 'Въ виду доброкачественности старинныхъ построекъ (зодчими являлись главнымъ образомъ рабы изъ лаосскихъ областей и Камбоджіи, где еще живее сохраня-лись традиціи великаго искусства «хмеровъ») и въ виду сравнительно высшихъ эстетиче-скихъ потребностей населенія въ ту эпоху, тамошнія сооруженія несомненно представляли гораздо больше въ общечеловеческомъ культурномъ смысле чемъ все позднейшее, воз-никшее уже въ бангкокскій періодъ.' ('In view of the great quality of the older buildings (the architects were mainly slaves from the Lao regions and Cambodia, where the traditions of the great Khmer art were still more alive), and in view of the comparatively higher aesthetic needs of the population in that era, there is certainly more here in a universal cultural sense than all the later constructions which have arisen already in the Bangkok period.')
  • About the power struggle between Annam and Siam over Cambodia: 'Аннамъ и Сіамъ издавна вступали между собою косвенными образомъ въ борьбу, при упорныхъ попыткахъ перваго окончательно себе подчинить сначала царство Ціампу (т. е. Кохинхину), а затемъ и Камбоджію. На Менаме, положимъ, тоже не дремали: напр. въ 1313 г. на северъ послана была оттуда могучая рать (изъ теперешнихъ воин-ственныхъ лаосскихъ областей) для утвержденія сіамской власти среди развалинъ «хмерскаго» строя. Аннамиты олицетворяли такъ-сказать авангардъ стремящагося южнее Китая. ('Annam and Siam have long entered into an indirect struggle with each other, with persistent attempts by the first to finally subjugate the kingdom of Champa (i.e. Cochinchina), and then Cambodia. On the Menam, they also did not doze: for example, in 1313 a mighty army was sent to the north from there (from the present warlike Lao regions) to establish the Siamese power among the ruins of the “Khmer” system. The Annamites personified, so to speak, the avant-garde striving to the south of China.'
  • About the emblems of French colonization in Saigon (HoChiMinh City): 'Таковы статуи въ честь завоевавшаго край доблестнаго адмирала Rigault de Genouilly и пламеннаго сторонника смѣлой колоніальной политики — Гамбетты, а также въ честь начальника меконгской экспедиціи, сражавшагося противъ насъ въ крымскую кампанію Doudart de Lagrée (воочію изслѣдовавшаго древности хмерскаго періода и проникшаго изъ Индо-Китая въ Юннанъ) и въ честь убитаго въ цвѣтѣ лѣтъ пиратами даровитаго путе-шественника Francis Garnier.'('These are the statues honoring the gallant admiral Rigault de Genouilly who conquered the land, the ardent supporter of the courageous colonial policy Gambetta, as well as in honor of the head of the Mekong expedition, our adversary during the Crimean campaign, Doudart de Lagrée, who took special interest in the study of the Khmer antique period and entered Yunnan from Indochina, and in honor of the talented traveler Francis Garnier, killed in action by pirates.')
  • A vision of beauty at the Siamese court: 'Вечеромъ въ залахъ, вмѣщающихъ сокровищницу его величества (между прочимъ, рѣдчайшій китайскій и японскій фарфоръ), наши взоры плѣнены появленіемъ самой светлоликой королевы Savangwadhanâ, удивительно изящной по фигуре и крайне моложавой на видъ, хотя ей — 28 летъ, а женщины въ тропикахъ старятся рано. Въ ленте, ордёнахъ и алмазахъ, въ парчевомъ одеяніи и «панунге», съ высокими белыми чулками и пряжками на башмакахъ, царица Савангвадана вышла изъ внутреннихъ покоевъ привет-ствовать Августейшихъ путешественниковъ и затемъ милостиво разрешила представить [представлять] себе свиту Цесаревича.' ('In the evening, in the halls housing His Majesty's treasury (we shall note incidentally the most wonderful Chinese and Japanese porcelain), our eyes are captured by the appearance of the truly radiant Queen Savangwadhanâ, surprisingly graceful in figure and extremely youthful in appearance, although she is 28 years old -- women in the tropics grow old early. With ribbons, medals and diamonds, clothed in brocade and "panunga", with high white stockings and buckles on the shoes, Queen Savangvadana came out of the inner chambers to greet the august travelers, and then graciously allowed the retinue of the Tsarevich to introduce themselves.')
  • A somber view on the prospects of Western greediness in Southeast Asia: 'Но питаясь соками самаго гигантскаго материка и держа, когда можно, въ экономическомъ рабствѣ сотни милліоновъ много страд альныхъ двуногихъ существъ, уповаютъ-ли піонеры цивилизаціи на будущій успѣхъ?' ('But feeding on the juices of the gigantic continent itself, and holding whenever possible in economic slavery hundreds of millions of many suffering bipeds, do the pioneers of civilization hope for future success?')
  • Ukhtomsky is one of the few foreign visitors to have paid close attention to the musical forms and instruments in Siam, hence giving us precious information about an art historically linked to the Khmer culture (pp. 100-101): 'Подобно тому какъ на Явѣ нѣжный « гамелангъ » встрѣтилъ однажды Наслѣдника Цесаревича звуками русскаго гимна, и здѣсь Е. И. Высочество привѣтствуется сегодня сладкогласными, по мелодичности выполненія, и стройно льющимся «Боже, Царя Храни!» Мѣстные даровитые музыканты съ дѣтства посвящаютъ себя своему весьма почитаемому въ странѣ искусству и, обладая кромѣ превосходнаго слуха примѣрнымъ прилежаніемъ, до тонкости умѣютъ передавать любую пьесу. Недаромъ, бангкокскій дворъ, покровитель-ствующій родными артистами, счелъ своевременными и возможными послать даже въ Англію, шесть лѣтъ тому назадъ, цѣлую группу сіамскихъ виртуозовъ. Инструменты еще ранѣе были выставлены въ Парижѣ при «второй имперіи». Но и тамъ, конечно, никто не имѣлъ случая видѣть столь замечательно полную коллекцію ихъ, какъ мы сейчасъ видимъ и могли замѣтить эти послѣдніе дни: во время игръ въ паркѣ у дворца Саранромъ и въ театрѣ.' ('Just as a suave Javanese "gamelang" had once welcomed the then Heir of the Imperial Throne with the Russian anthem, here and today, His Imperial Highness is met with the sweet-voiced, melodiously executed, and harmoniously flowing "God Save the Tsar!" Local talented musicians eagerly devote themselves to their art, which is highly respected in the country and, as they possess in addition excellent ear and primordial diligence, they are able to convey any tune with subtlety. Not without reason, the Bangkok Court, patronized by native artists, considered it timely and possible to send even to England, six years ago, a whole group of Siamese virtuosos. Their instruments had been earlier exhibited in Paris during the Second Empire. But even there, of course, no one had a chance to see such a remarkably complete collection of them as we now see and could overshadow these last days, during games in the park near the Saranrom palace and at the theater.')

'первое мѣсто занимаютъ бамбуковые «ранатъ экъ» и «ранатъ тумъ» (трубочки, бережно скрѣпленные другъ съ другомъ и подвѣшенные надъ подобьемъ люльки, по которыми искусно ударяютъ молоточками). Это, такъ сказать, — рояль сіамцевъ и бирман-цевъ, требующій отъ нихъ положительно изумительной техники. Затѣмъ идетъ 'khong уаі', состоящій изъ 16 гонговъ, обладающихъ каждый особымъ отзвукомъ, похожимъ на звонъ колокола.'('Preeminent are the bamboo "ranat ek" and "ranat tum" (tubes carefully linked one with each other and suspended in the air like a cradle, which are skillfully hit with hammers). This, so to speak, is the grand piano of the Siamese and the Burmese, as it requires some amazing technique. Then comes the "khong yai", consisting of 16 gongs, each having a special echo, similar to the ringing of a bell.')

'Они образуютъ почти замыкающійся кругъ въ видѣ плетенки, куда въ середину садится музыканта, легче доставая каждую нужную ему такимъ путемъ помощью своего била, чемъ это удавалось бы, будь онѣ вытянуты въ одну линію. Дальше следуетъ «takhay» (т. е.«ящерица»), отчасти напоминающій внешностыо огромную гитару, но имеющій тонъ віолончеля. Кузовъ страннаго инструмента, похожій на модель китайскаго судна, украшенъ пастью аллигатора и снабженъ шелковыми струнами. Кроме того обращаютъ на себя вниманіе: 1) маленькая сердцевидная скрипка «saw tay» съ необыкновенно длинною ручкою, изящно выложенною инкрустаціями (изъ перламутра, слоновой кости) и со смычкомъ болыпаго размѣра, 2) флейты различной величины, раковины, трубы, барабаны, гармоника и.т.п. Всего не перечесть, да и дать о нихъ наглядное понятіе очень трудно : артисты-исполнители то подражаютъ, дуя въ тростникъ, звукамъ органа, то эоловымъ арфамъ. Что-то нежное и грустное, жалобное и безплотное рЕетъ надъ орке-стромъ. Ритмъ сіамской музыки будитъ мечты и словно убаюкиваетъ, наполняя однако душу торжественнымъ настроеніемъ. Въ «гамеланге» духовно олицетворялось прошедшее и настоящее Явы, въ более сложномъ «махори» сказывается вся таинственная красота и прелесть страны на Менаме. ('They are arranged in an almost closed circle, in the form of a braid, where the musician sits in the middle, easily reaching each [instrument] he needs in his beat, which would not be possible if they were pulled into one line. Next comes "takhay" (that is, "lizard"), which partly resembles a huge outward guitar, but has the tone of a cello. The body of a strange instrument, similar to a model of a Chinese ship, is decorated with an alligator's mouth and fitted with silk strings. In addition, we shall notice: 1) a small heart-shaped "saw tay" violin with an unusually long handle, elegantly laid out with incrustations (made of mother-of-pearl, ivory) and with a large-sized bow, 2) flutes of various sizes, shells, trumpets, drums, harmonica, etc. It is impossible to count all of them, and very difficult to reach a clear understanding of them. By blowing into the reed, the artists-performers imitate either the sounds of the organ, or the eolian harp. Something delicate and sad, plaintive and incorporeal, flutters over the orchestra. The rhythm of Siamese music awakens dreams and seems to lull, however filling the soul with a solemn mood. In "gamelang", the past and present of Java was spiritually personified; in the more complex "mahori" all the mysterious beauty and charm of the country is reflected here in Menam.')

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Siamese Royal pirogue on the Menam River | Musicians in Java (illustrations by Н. Н. КАРАЗИНЪ, N.N. Karazin)

  • The book series was written in close consultation with Nicholas II, who personally approved each chapter. It took six years to complete, and was published in three volumes between 1893 and 1897 by Brockhaus, in Leipzig.
  • Despite being expensive (35 roubles), the first volume ran to four editions. Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna bought several thousand copies for various government ministries and departments, and a cheaper edition was subsequently printed. The work was translated into English, French (Voyage en Orient, translation by Léon Léger, with a foreword by A. Leroy-Beaulieu, available as book-on-demand), German and Chinese, with a copy being presented to the Chinese Emperor and Empress in 1899 by the Russian envoy.

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About the Author

E. E. Ukhtomsky

Prince Esper Esperovich Ukhtomsky (князь Эспер Эсперович Ухтомский, 26 Aug. 1861, Orianenbaum, Imperial Russia – 26 November 1921, Detskoe Selo) was a poet, publisher and Oriental enthusiast in late Tsarist Russia. He was a close confidant of Tsar Nikolay II and accompanied him when we as Tsarevich (future Emperor) on his Grand tour to the East.

Ukthomsky related in detail the official journey in Путешествие на Восток Его Императорского Высочества Государя Наследника Цесаревича, 1890—1891, a richly illustrated book collection which was published in Russian from 1893 to 1897 (the later volumes are entitled Путешествие Государя Императора Николая II на Восток, 1890—1891.

The initiatory odyssey of the Cesarevitch started with Egypt, then India, Ceylon, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and back to Vladivostok, the 'Star of the East', where in March 1891 Nikolay (Nicholas) inaugurated the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad to link Moscow to the Russian Far East.Later on, Ukhtomsky was appointed to the role of court chamberlain, and served on the Siberian Railway Committee.

Like many of his learned contemporaries in Europe, Prince Ukhtomsky combined his attraction to the Far East with a deep interest for the occult and esoteric. Hostile to the influence of 'Western imperialism' in Asia, he claimed the "Asianness" of Russia, and advocated for close relations with China, although his views of Asian people were often tainted with racial prejudices.

His travel books were illustrated by noted artist Nikolay Nikolayevich Karazin (Никола́й Никола́евич Кара́зин,1842-1909).