[THE FIRST EUROPEAN TRAVELER TO EXPLORE THE MERV OASIS AND CENTRAL ASIAN TURKMEN TRIBES] Iugo-zapadnaya Turkmeniya: Zemli Sarykov i Salorov. [i.e. South-Western Turkmenia: The lands of the Saryks and Salors].
P[AVEL] M[IKHAILOVICH] LESSAR, (1851-1905).
Typ. A. S. Suvorina, St. Petersburg, 1885.
Original half leather bdg. Marbled boards. Gilt title on spine. Minor wear on leather, occasionally foxing on pages. Otherwise a very good copy. Roy. 8vo. (23 x 16 cm). In Russian. , 80 p., 1 folded map of Southwest Turkmenistan.
First appearance in a book form one year after it was published as an extract in 1884 [Extr. de: S.G.M.A. 1884. XIII. 1-138]. First Edition. Pavel Mikhailovich became the first European who received the right to explore previously unexplored territories namely the land of Saryk and Salor where the independent Turkmen tribes live in Central Asia.
Lessar participated in the voluntary accession of Merv to the Russian Empire. And at the end of January 1884, the delegation from this city swore allegiance to Alexander III. Taking advantage of the delegation from Iolatan, who came to Merv to discuss the possibility of joining the "White King", Lessar went with them. He had a great chance to learn more about Saryk, so he headed for Iolotan. Lessar hoped that he would be able to "... continue to climb up the Murghab and collect information about Saryks [The origin of all of these tribes is traced to 24 ancient Oghuz tribes, among which the Salur tribe played a prominent role as its people are considered the ancestors of a couple of modern Turkmen tribes such as Saryks], agriculture and cattle breeding from them, irrigation of land, trade, their relations to the surrounding tribes and peoples, in general, all the data necessary to get acquainted with our new citizens and neighbors, and to clarify the boundaries of the Turkmen lands.". During the journey, Lessar was accompanied by a translator, a guide, and several Tekino horsemen, who played the role of guards. It must be said that the oasis of Iolotan at that time was considered a rather large settlement since there were about four thousand tents on its territory. The basis of Iolotan was Saryk, but Jews who were engaged in trade also lived there. Lessar recalled: "most of them came from Herat, in the madrasah of which Jews still send their children to study. There is no religious oppression. But only Jews achieve a certain wealth, they are immediately robbed." When the territory of Central Asia became part of the Russian Empire, Lessar became a member of the Anglo-Russian Commission, which determined the border between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Lessar participated in the signing of the protocol establishing the Russian-Afghan border. In this early rare book, Lessar described in detail the Turcoman tribes in Central Asia with an attractive small-scale pencil-sketch map depicting an area south of the Karakum desert, showing the city of Merv to the north and the city of Herat to the south. The names and locations of towns and villages in between these two cities are written out, along with illustrations of rivers and railways. The city of Sarakh is located to the west, while the Badkhyz plateau and the Murgab River can be seen to the east. Lessar was a Russian diplomat, explorer, and Transcaspian railway engineer who became a member of the Central Asian campaigns. He came from an old French family who settled in Odessa. After graduating from the Institute of Railway Engineers, Lessar received an important and responsible task to build a port in the Black Sea city of Poti (Georgia). Then, when the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 went on, Pavel Mikhailovich became responsible for the construction of a railway bridge across the Prut River. The Bandero-Galician railway is also his creation. He was also in the group of Commander of the Transcaspian Region, General Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev (1843-1882). (Sources: Top War.; Gunnar Jarring Collection).